Within weeks of each other in 2006, John Piper and David Powlison were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Pastor John wrote a helpful article, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer,” that outlines 10 ways people can waste their cancer. David Powlison added his thoughts to each of the ten shortly thereafter. Here is an excerpt:
9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
David Powlison: Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith. If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin. Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life? Will you pretend it’s business as usual? Will you come to terms with death, on your terms? But if you are God’s, then suffering in Christ’s hands will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly. You come to terms with life and death on his terms. He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities. He will make you need him and love him. He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often. He will walk with you. Of course you’ll fail at times, perhaps seized by irritability or brooding, escapism or fears. But he will always pick you up when you stumble. Your inner enemy – a moral cancer 10,000 times more deadly than your physical cancer – will be dying as you continue seeking and finding your Savior: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is very great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25).