God is Not Cancer

Jason Micheli —  February 12, 2015 — 23 Comments

Untitled101111For about 6 months now I’ve been working on this Distilled catechism, initially with young people and the questions they ask me in mind. You can peruse the old Questions and Answers by clicking here.

The last couple of days, however, my tranquiliated mind keeps going back to one of the older, original Q/A’s unpacking what the ancient Church called the via negative or apophatic theology.

Monday this week I had unexpected intestinal surgery which has begat other unexpected news; namely that I have a rare form of blood cancer. Turns out I didn’t have ulcers or gall stones after all. Damn.

I like to think I’m unique in all things and, it turns out, I am in diseases too. In just a few short but lingering days, we have had lots of cries and surreal WTF? calls for clarity. We’ve had to tell our boys that ‘Daddy has cancer’ and, even now, we do more of the same (we wait), waiting to find out this evening exactly what type is this blood cancer and at what stage I’ll get thrown in the ring with it.

Doing cancer as a Christian can be hard enough for many folks; doing cancer as a public, professional Christian is something I’m still only beginning to sort out.

Its like someone’s thrown me a gown and I’m still trying to find the arms.

Not only is my faith expected to be a resource for me while cancer tries to kill me, it’s expected my faith vs cancer will be a resource to others too.

And after just 3 exhausting days I can (only) honestly say I don’t know if I can do it- the cancer in a fish bowl thing.

Even still, I’ve started to take stock of where I am at with the bastard formerly known as God and what, of my faith, I must reevaluate or reemphasize.

To that end, I return to Question 13 from the beginning of Distilled. Suffering terrific post-op pain, acute melancholy and ___________ cancer, it’s more important to me than ever before that what I speak of God- or have spoken to me- is true. Or at the very least, not idolatrous nonsense.

I. The Father

13. How should we speak of God? 

With deep humility, realizing that even our best speech is nonsense when applied to God and, as sinners, we’re prone to project our feelings and wills upon God.

We should speak of God always realizing our best words fit God like a baby’s clothes fit on a grown-up. Our language for God is approximate without being at all adequate.

For this reason, the best way to speak of God is to begin by saying what God is not (an approach called the via negativa):

God is not hate, for example. God is not a man with a beard.

Or, God is not cancer.

When we arrive at a negative statement which we know is false (eg, ‘God is not Love’) then we know we’ve hit upon something true of God.

‘Whoever does not love does not know God.’ – 1 John 4.8

Jason Micheli


23 responses to God is Not Cancer

  1. For now, let our faith be YOUR resource. You focus on the fight.

  2. My friend, Jason. Having experienced a similar diagnosis a few years back, know that I am willing to listen and help you through this.

  3. Jason, I am so sorry to learn of your Cancer. I also have a very rare cancer only 1% of all adult cancers…Lieomyosarcoma, a type of sarcoma. It travels through the blood stream. Uncurable but manageable for some…for awhile. I have been through chemo you may remember when I was wearing a ball cap. I’ve been there, I am there, it’s not fun. You are young & I am much older & I believe it is easier on me because of age. You will learn you are not alone in this journey & there is support & help out there. Embrace it. God is with you.
    Prayers for a speedy recovery, correct diagnoses, and successful treatment. Fight and kick cancers butt!! Healing prayers & love

    • Peggy, there is a family with a mom age 52 doing chemo now after her surgery for Lieomyosarcoma. She lives in Waynewood two blocks from Ft. Hunt and Plymouth Road. Her name is Colleen Harvey if you are able to encourage her. I am familiar with the Lymphoma, my father died of it just after singing in the choir at Aldersgate. Thanks, David Harrison

  4. The words, “I am praying for you,” seem so trite in light of what you are facing. But I am indeed deep in prayer for you, your family and the many to whom you minister. May light and healing grace surround you as you walk into this dark valley of unknowing.

  5. I admire you more than you will ever know. You are facing ^%&$ cancer head on and looking for a way to turn this into a teachable moment for your flock. Please know that you have taught us well. Now is the time for us to be there for you. We love you.

  6. Oh my God Jason, I am so sorry. For whatever it’s worth, I’m praying for you and your family right now, in this very moment. We’ve never met, but your blogs and preaching continue to be very meaningful to me. Love you man.

  7. Cancer in a fishbowl, will be hard. Any cancer is hard. You are a private person, but your fishbowl has been placed in a community that will do anything for anyone. Especially you. Not always easy to be the one that accepts help, when you are one who usually gives it. Let the meals come, let friends offer help with the boys, give people projects -“sure you can mow my grass, do our laundry, walk our dog,.. write my sermon… well maybe not that one :)– it makes others feel better. It will give you more space and time with your family which will make you feel better.

    I will do anything to help you and Ali, (except write a sermon)

    May God’s healing hands rest on you and may the very best of medicine bring you through this.

  8. Jason, you are being prayed for.

  9. Well….I HAVE met you, Jason. YOU are the reason I returned to church! Stay strong, fight this THING and know that everyone is praying very hard for your recovery. I truly believe that you can beat this!

  10. As always, your message leaves us speechless. Your amazing ability to reveal God’s intentions for us is both unfathomable and unparalleled. Thank you for allowing your neighbors to serve you during this challenging time for your family. Our family looks forward to, and will thank God for the opportunity to, have you guide us to better serve God and our neighbors for many, many more years.

  11. I only know you through your blog, but wow, this has me shocked. And saddened. I think whatever your journey ends up looking like, it will be a resource because of how God has already gifted you and how you have gifted us.

  12. Jason,
    Hospitals, Doctors, Medicine, Tests, Procedures, and Diagnoses are no fun. Life is sure not fair.

    Ask Questions. Stay Strong. We are there for you and your family. We love you. You know the way that is right for you.

    Peace and Healing, Deanna

  13. Dear Jason, I am so sorry that you are facing this illness. You are loved, and you are strong and I have no doubt that you will get through this. You are the salt of the earth and you have seasoned us well and given us hope for our lives. And now it is returned to you as many prayers are sent up for your recovery. Be at peace, my friend.

  14. Jason, I cannot imagine what you are going through in your head and in your heart. But I know that God is bigger than this and loves you more than you can fathom. I am praying for strength, comfort and peace for you and your sweet family. Please feel God holding you extra close. You can count on my consistent and dedicated prayer.

  15. Wow! I pray for your strength as you wrestle. I pray for you healing.

  16. To say this really sucks is an understatement. All of us in the McAdam house are praying for you. You have given us so many tools over the years in dealing with difficult things, so it’s time for us to give back. Know we are here if you need anything.

  17. Michael and Deborah February 13, 2015 at 2:28 PM

    Jason, we are stunned and so sorry to learn of your diagnosis. God is your rock and your redeemer. We reflect on your strength, faith, dedication and unwavering commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ and to all of us. During these frightening and unknowing times, trust in your God and know all of us are with you in spirit, prayers and committed to help you and your family in any way we can. God bless you and your family and we hope you feel the warmth and love surrounding you.

  18. Dear Jason I’am praying for your fast recovery and to help your wife and little boys deal with this trying time and hope God lets it be as pain free as it can be for you and them.

  19. Be strong, Jason. I am going through chemo myself (though not in a fishbowl) and know how trying it can be. As so many others have written, you have taught us all so much about faith… Know that you can win this fight.

  20. My Dear Jason, within the revolution, you are one of God’s great commanders. So it is no surprise to me that the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” would do their utmost to hobble you. But take heart and remember the words of Paul to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 6:10-18) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

    And, Jason, I close with the Lord’s blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

    Get well my friend!

  21. Jason and family, You have given so much of yourself to so many people. God has you in his book of his great people and with all our prayers you know He will look after you. Be strong, positive eat right, exercise, when you can, and listen to your Doctors. There are so many treatments now. Its the time to have cancer if you have to have it because of all the new medicines. You know we love you and will be praying for you.

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