Don't Waste Your Life
Perhaps if there is one word that all of
us dread, it is the word 'cancer'. Fear,
anxiety, depression, anger, panic…all these
emotions accompany the ailing person and
his immediate relatives and friends.
John Piper knows what he is speaking about.
This protestant minister was diagnosed with
prostate cancer in the beginning of the year.
His reaction was unusual. "This news
has, of course, been good for me. The most
dangerous thing in the world is the sin of
self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness.
The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting
effect on both. I thank God for that. The
times with Christ in these days have been
And he wrote an article with the arresting
title 'Don't Waste Your Cancer', in which
he outlines ten points that are enlightening
not only to cancer patients but also to life-patients
- all those who struggle to live life to
the full. Like me. Like you perhaps!
He starts by saying that 1. You will waste
your cancer if you do not believe it is designed
for you by God. Behind life there is a designing
hand. And this designing hand is the hand
of a very intelligent artist. Lois Caliri
dreaded having to go through chemotherapy.
Yet she says, "I was also getting to
know God in a way I never thought possible.
What a wonderful companion. He never left
The second point is even more powerful. 2.
You will waste your cancer if you believe
it is a curse and not a gift. The cross always
appears in our life because we need it. It
deflates our pompous ego. It puts us in our
true dimension. It forces us to raise our
eyes to Him. Yes, a gift indeed.
And he continues making it more obvious and
clear. 3. You will waste your cancer if you
seek comfort from your odds rather than from
God. "Some count their chariots (percentages
of survival) and some count their horses
(side effects of treatment), but we trust
in the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm
20:7). With God, you aren't playing percentages,
but living within certainties.
4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse
to think about death. It is foolish to avoid
the unavoidable. The Psalmist is so full
of intelligence. "Teach us to number
our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."
Cancer is merely one of the enemy's scouting
parties, out on patrol. It has no final power
if you are a child of the resurrection, so
you can look at death in the eye.
John Piper goes even deeper. 5. You will
waste your cancer if you think that 'beating'
cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing
Christ. The Church always spoke of three
enemies - world, devil and the flesh. Whenever
an ailment occurs, the flesh always comes
forward and sweet-talks us 'You will suffer,
you will be in pain… Rebel against God.'
"God's design is to wean you off the
breast of the world and feast you on the
sufficiency of Christ."
Obviously, 6. You will waste your cancer
if you spend too much time reading about
cancer and not enough time reading about
God. It is good to be informed. It is stupid
however not to take advantage of your time
to reflect and read about Him and his friends.
Put Mary in the equation of your life.
One big temptation in sickness is to shut
yourself up. Your needs become the only concern.
Everyone has to rotate around you. Some lock
themselves. They put on the shutters. This
is why 7, You will waste your cancer if you
let it drive you into solitude instead of
deepening your relationships with manifest
And remember always that 8. You will waste
your cancer if you grieve as those who have
no hope. Emotions of anguish subsist. But
our heartache is different. There is always
a window open. This window opens to heaven.
A critical thought, perhaps. But a required
one. 9. You will waste your cancer if you
treat sin as casually as before. Perhaps
God thought of cancer as a way to destroy
the appetite for sin. "Pride, greed,
lust, hatred, un-forgiveness, impatience,
laziness, procrastination-all these are the
adversaries that cancer is meant to attack."
Cancer can thus become an ally! Take advantage.
Rearrange your priorities.
And the final consideration, 10. You will
waste your cancer if you fail to use it as
a means of witness to the truth and glory
of Christ. In bed you can save people. By
uniting your sufferings to the love Jesus
Christ manifested on the cross, your pain
acquires a tremendous redemptive power that
God will shower on those who need it.
Besides, God plans the whole thing perfect.
Many people will visit you. Many people will
call you. Show to the whole world that He
is worth more than life. Show to the whole
world that your "God will supply every
need of yours according to his riches in
glory in Christ Jesus". Yes, magnify
Christ in and through your sickness!
You can waste your life. For heaven's sake,
do NOT do it. You only have one of it.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright