The power of faith
Written by canon, D. Theodosios Manolis, Clinical of Biomedine Research and Bioethics cancer. Cleric of Holy Mitropolis Cloister of Ilion Acharnon and Petroupolis, responsible for the educational work of pastoral and psychosocial Medicine at the General and Cancer Hospital “Agioi Anargiroi”.
It is a fact that the disease of cancer is one of the most difficult situations that a person can ever face. The patient’s difficulty in interpreting the situation in conjunction with the fear and the anxiety caused by the sudden appearance of the disease, are some common reactions which can lead to negative thoughts. Depression overwhelms the patient, who has already started giving up and wants his peace and quiet.
The Church as a pillar
At this stage, people often see the Church as the only pillar and faith in God as the only shelter, which offers support, pain relief, empathy, empowerment, spiritual reinforcement and orientation throughout this difficult time. This actually confirms the strong bond between faith and health.
The speech of Apostle Paul at the second Epistle to Korinthians establishes the metaphysical extension and the importance of faith in our lives.
“God gave me a thorn in my mouth, a devil’s servant to torture me in order not to brag. I asked God three times to throw this thorn away from me. His answer was: “My grace is enough to you because my power is visible through its afterglow in your weakness.” With more delight I am going to boast about my hardships, in order to make the God’s power live within me. ” (Β’ Κοr. 11,31-12,9)
The therapeutic character of faith
A lot of different studies show that faith in God substantially affects our lives, since we reinforce our meditation, our inner catharsis and our mental renovation (Mantzaridis, Christian Ethics II, Thessaloniki 2003, The absurd of pain, p.615). This is quite logical because the person who suffers tries to step over the limits of the disease, with the help of a supernatural power. In this way, not only the scientific, but also the empirical, theological and therapeutic character of Medicine is obviously highlighted.
Acquaintance with God
God is tolerant, merciful, gracious and real. Throughout the difficult time of the disease, God educates us and makes the disease the cause of a more essential and deeper acquaintance with Him. As Elder Paisios used to say: «Α minor tumor is something insignificant and unimportant compared to God’s grace”.
As a result, the disease becomes the road which leads to the real “freedom”. Faith in God is the fundament and the prerequisite of the victory of Hope. The patient can be free without being alone, proving that this “freedom” is actually the creative and metamorphic way, which can help him overcome negative feelings, thoughts and passions during this difficult period. This brings about a peaceful mood and behavior, not only for himself but also for the others.
It is true that during the difficult time of the disease, the relationship with God undergoes doubts, crises, outburst and insight. Throughout this period, we shouldn’t forget that Christ sets an example for us and we should follow the advice of Saint John Chrysostom, who said that we shouldn’t lose our faith in difficult times but we should keep it as a bulwark. (SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Chrysostomic Pulpit, Faith, Hope, Love,p. 64 To Ephesians, New Testament, ΕPΕ 21,326-330.PG.62,171).
Faith in God
The pain of the disease tortures and harasses the patients’ bodies and souls. Faith in God sends away the desperation, which is caused by the difficulty of the disease. Simultaneously, faith moves away the results of desperation such as: the constant agitation of heart, the obscurantism, the discouragement, the ethical degeneration, the melancholy and sadness which quite often lead to suicide.
The Christian Hope is Christ himself who helps people, who suffer, to maintain the control of the powers of self-destructiveness and breakdown. According to Saint John Chrysostom, the power of Hope and faith in God is like an unconquerable fort, an invincible bulwark, an indomitable alliance, a still port, an unbeatable weapon and like an unrivalled power, which helps finding solutions where there are only deadlocks. (SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Faith, Hope, Love p.126, First Psalm, ΕPΕ 5,518-520. PG. 55,140.).
Living in the Church of Christ, we can choose “Good” and accept the pain and disease with faith. Following the Christ’s, Apostles’ and Saints’ tracks, we can turn our pain into patience, thanksgiving and voluntary acceptance while having a blessed road to cross in front of us. This road leads to holiness.
Christ only asks us for faith.
For example, there was a bleeding woman who had been suffering from hemorrhage for twelve years and her doctor didn’t manage to cure her. She touched Christ’s clothes because she believed that in this way she could be cured. Christ felt his inner power and asked the crowd: “Who touched my clothes?” His students answered: “You can see the crowd pushing you. Why did you ask this question about the person who touched you?” He looked around to understand who touched him. Then, the woman, shaking with fear because she realized what had happened, bent over him and told him the truth. He answered: “My daughter, your faith saved you. You can go now and have peace in your life. From now on you will be free from this disease." (Louk. 41-56). The therapeutic power of Christ’s years wasn’t lost. Gradually, it was given to the Church and it was enriched. This power acts through mysteries, mostly of Saint Euchelaos and through the faith of believers.
Christ invites us to have completely faith in Him, to completely devote our lives to Him (both our body and soul) and his help is going to save us.
God is Love
Because of the fact that God is Love, if we turn to Him with faith, he immediately makes the miracle happen in our person life. This happens not only according to our desires but also according to our general “good” and best interest. We shouldn’t be afraid of life. We should only have faith in God and in this way we are going to save ourselves.
The essence of faith
In conclusion, the best thing that a person can do in difficult times is to remember the words of the Chanter and base his hopes on God. (Psalm 5, PG 29, 469 Α). Science makes sense only if it isn’t trapped in the present and isn’t based on the given facts of immediacy which can be understood by physical sensations. Science can go beyond these according to Apostle Paul’s speech: “We faith in things that don’t exist but we hope them, in things that we actually can’t see but we realize their existence through our religious belief”. (Evr. 11, 1).