Suffering, Faith, and an Urgent Prayer Request

A personal word about a major prayer need:

Yesterday I wrote a somewhat general piece on suffering, cancer, and Christian hope. Given how so many people are impacted by cancer, this is something we all can relate to. In the piece I sought to bring some biblical and theological truths to bear on this dreaded reality: billmuehlenberg.com/2022/03/05/suffering-cancer-god-and-hope/

In it I promised that a much more personal article would soon follow. Well, here it is. And can I say that I feel a little bit funny about using my website for this sort of thing. But I guess I can use my own site for various purposes! Apologies if this seems to be a bit out of place here.

But desperate times call for desperate measures I guess. So thanks for putting up with me here. If I have seemed a bit moody or morose or despondent of late – even more than usual! – it is because of some personal issues. As I often say, the sad state of the world, and the sad state of the church, weigh heavily on me daily. That is a burden that never leaves me.

I often think of the Apostle Paul who lists all of his many hardships, sufferings, persecutions, and trials, only to conclude with these words: “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).

But let me get to the point, sorry! Here is my specific prayer request. If you can join me in prayer as we ask our heavenly Father for his grace, that would be so much appreciated thanks:

Important! Prayers are VERY much needed thanks. My wife just learned she has quite aggressive and spreading breast cancer. Five months of chemo and then surgery begin immediately. Four specific prayer requests:

 

-Obviously pray for God’s healing hand on her life, and grace to the whole family.

 

-A new immunotherapy treatment found to be fairly successful in the US is now available here. It would supplement the chemo. But so far there is no subsidy for it, so we would have to pay for it out of our own pockets. It is massively expensive! Chemo starts on Wednesday and we need to decide before then if we add this supplementary treatment. So please pray for wisdom here: do we agree to it and trust God to somehow come up with all the funds, or do we just stick to the standard chemo?

 

-I have cancelled all my speaking engagements for the foreseeable future. Pray that those who invited me can find alternative speakers.

 

-I am still unjabbed however. Pray that I can be with my wife as she does all her various stints in hospital. (So far over the past two years I have been able to get into clinics and hospitals without any problems.)

 

Thank you so much for your prayers.

And yes I know: millions of people the world over are going through this very thing right now as well. So there is nothing unique about our situation. But when it hits so close to home you sure do feel it a whole lot more. Many thanks for putting up with me here on this rather different sort of article.

Your friendship and support and prayers are so very much cherished. You may never know how much they mean to us, and just how effective they are. Bless you! And given that nearly 48 hours ago I posted the above prayer request on my Facebook page, and I have now had around 350 reactions to it (out of some 900 FB friends) and around 250 comments posted underneath it, that is an example of this sort of support in action. Thanks so much for all that encouragement, support and prayer.

Immunotherapy

There are several main types of breast cancer. My wife has triple-negative breast cancer. One website puts it this way:

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for about 10-15% of all breast cancers. . . . Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows quickly, is more likely to have spread at the time it’s found, and is more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. The outlook is generally not as good as it is for other types of breast cancer. www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/types-of-breast-cancer/triple-negative.html

The special treatment that I mentioned above does sound promising. One site says this about it:

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. The immune system helps your body fight infections and other diseases. It is made up of white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy. Biological therapy is a type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer. www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy

Another site says this:

While chemotherapy works to kill cancer cells, immunotherapy aims to boost the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Checkpoint immunotherapy is currently available in Australia for some types of cancer. . . . There are different kinds of immunotherapy and they work in different ways. Immunotherapy can boost the immune system to work better against cancer or remove barriers to the immune system attacking the cancer. www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/treatment/immunotherapy

And one gal kindly sent this message to me on the social media:

Hi Bill, I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. I have walked down that shocking path, it’s very painful and difficult. I have heard great things about immunotherapy, really great things. I’ll be praying for you both to get through this well. May God carry you both. If you wanted an ear, I’d be happy to listen at any time.

Right now there is no government subsidy for this treatment of breast cancer in Australia. For those who are wondering, our oncologist said the ‘discounted’ course of immunotherapy treatment comes to $60,000 for the duration of the initial treatment! Someone has offered to do a crowd funding page for us to help cover these costs. We may well make use of such a site. If we do, we will let you know ASAP.

We all suffer

Everyone suffers in one way or another. Cancer is one major example of this. I just looked this up: “Cancer is a leading cause of death in Australia – almost 50,000 deaths from cancer were estimated for 2019.” Of course that is not telling us the whole story: the biggest killer in Australia and the world is abortion. But still this is a major cause of death.

And since this is a rather personal piece, some of you might know that I too have cancer – but a much smaller and less aggressive prostate cancer which has already been treated, and the medicos continue to monitor. So I guess I would appreciate your prayers for my own health as well!

And other types of suffering abound. Those who are cricket fans are mourning the recent loss of Shane Warne right now. We of course still have the terrible Russian invasion of Ukraine continuing, including the targeting of Europe’s largest nuclear plant. Floods continue to take lives and property in Australia. Horrific persecution of Christians in China, North Korea and so many other places continues as we speak.

In light of such horrible suffering all around the globe, our situation seems to be not as important. But all suffering is important, and God cares about suffering immensely. Indeed, he knows all about suffering. Our Lord is even referred to as the “suffering servant” (Isaiah 53).

So we all suffer, and we all have to learn how to cope with suffering. Undoubtedly in the days ahead I will write a whole lot more on this journey that my wife and I are taking together. Just one brief anecdote that can be shared so far:

As we were leaving the oncologist late Friday afternoon having just learned the full extent of the rather bad news, I put my arm around my wife and said, “Well, look on the bright side.” “Yeah?” she asked. I said we only had to pay $3.50 for our parking ticket! A bit of humour is one element of how we get through these difficult times.

In sum, we would greatly appreciate your prayers. And please pray for others as well who are suffering. As we read in 1 Samuel 12:23: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.”

[1409 words]

48 Replies to “Suffering, Faith, and an Urgent Prayer Request”

  1. Thank you for sharing this Bill, I am praying for you, your wife and your family and the medical team caring for you, God bless you , Christa

  2. Very sorry Bill to learn about your wife’s cancer and have prayed as requested. Our situation in W.A. re visiting hospitals could be different from Vic. but you may be regarded as an essential visitor and not need the covid jabs.

  3. I cant imagine you n your family going through something like this n not, sharing it Bill. It seems to me that most here, are also your extended family.
    I have written down your prayer points, thank you so much for being so specific.
    Love n blessings to you n yours.

  4. Bill, I am sure I speak for all of your many supporters when I say how sad and horrifying it is that your wife has been stricken with an aggressive and spreading triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
    I am not on the social media, so I came across this dreadful news somewhat later than your Facebook followers.
    You are a heroic Christian, Bill, never shrinking from serving the Lord courageously in these difficult times.
    That is why I can’t bear to see your family under attack.
    Please be assured that Averil will be in our prayers, as will you and the rest of your family.

  5. Hi Bill, thank you for sharing what you and your wife are going through. Praying for you and your wife to know God’s peace both now and in the future and for the doctors to have wisdom regarding treatment.
    Shalom

  6. Praying for your wife’s healing and wisdom for all the medical staff looking after her.

  7. Dear Bill
    This is quite devastating news.
    As my husband has known you and your wife for quite a few years now his concerns are that is this true?
    He has been terribly worried about you for many years and your behavior especially at Church where we attend with you and Averil.
    How many years has Averil had this TNBC and ignored the symptoms which are apparent ?
    Grace

  8. God bless you and your wife, Bill. You have written splendidly with so much courage over the years on such important issues others have turned their back on. I hope a crowd-funding page can be set up, and made widely known.

    Every good wishes and prayers for you both.

  9. So sorry to hear about your wife’s health, Bill! (And yours too with your previous prostate cancer.) Re the costs for immunotherapy treatment; I’m sure crowd funding would be a good way to go for this. I am certain many, like myself, would be more than happy to assist! For you have given so willingly and tirelessly over the long years, and for no charge, as you have shared your wonderful pen and Godly wisdom on so many pressing matters. In short, you have been such an important beacon during these tumultuous times (and I don’t mean just in the past 2 years eiether). You and your wife will both be in our prayers! God bless you both!

  10. Dear brother, Bill,
    It’s with a heavy heart that I read your message today about your wife having cancer. Yes, definitely we will be praying for her, for you and the family. Our prayers and love come from our hearts and from your hometown. We owe much to you for being used by the Lord to share the Gospel with my husband those many years ago. We so thank the Lord for your faithfulness to God and taking the stand for Him all these years. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 God is with you, He will hold you up.

  11. Prayers offered and Mass to be offered tomorrow for your wife’s healing and for your intentions, Bill.

    May God bless you both.

  12. Sure Bill, your wife is now on my daily prayer list. God’s blessings Dave

  13. Bill,

    I’m sure countless people will be praying for your wife and you. Step back as far as you need to give her as much as you can. You have served as faithfully as anyone. Let the sovereign Lord carry you.

  14. We are so sorry Bill to hear of this difficult and confronting cancer diagnosis.Thank you for sharing it with us all. We feel very much for both of you and will be holding you up to the Lord in prayer, for healing and for treatment decisions. Also for peace in your hearts and minds, as you entrust each day to the one who gives meaning to our lives.

  15. I trust these verses and thoughts by Andrew Murray (written many years ago) but still true today will bring comfort and encouragement to you and your dear wife. Will be praying for you both.

    Exodus 20v21 and Isa 45v 2 and 3 are precious to us and I trust will be a blessing to you also. 
    “Moses approached the thick darkness where God was”.
    “I will go before you and will level the mountains, I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel who summons you by name.
     
    God meets us us and gives us his best treasures when we are in the darkest places. We find His treasures as we go through suffering and darkness, such as others who have not suffered can not experience.
     
                                                                                      Four Anchors for your soul 
                                                                                            By Andrew Murray
     
               He brought me here. It is by His will that I am in this difficult place. In that I will rest.
               He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His Child.
               He will make this trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
               In His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.
                                    So ….I am here by His appointment,
                                                       in His keeping,
                                                   Under His training,
                                                         for His time.
     

  16. Pronouncing Isaiah 53, Psalm 91 and Isaiah 54:17 over everything that concerns you and your family.
    Your articles have been such a blessing and needed in this hour!

  17. Love the parking fee humor! I had to spend a considerable amount on my son’s Year 12 ball outfit, and the shop lady reminded me that I saved $30 on mending fees, because I could do that myself! Gotta look for the silver lining xxx All the best

  18. Hi Bill, Such very sad news about your wife with breast cancer but I am praying for her, you and your entire family.

    Your voice in this wicked culture has been strong and courageous for Christ, family and biblical values. You are to me a respected warrior who has been very, very faithful. How can I thank you enough for standing strong for so many years and for being such an encouragement for many of us as you are still doing. May God bless you, your family and wife during this difficult time.

  19. Dear Bill

    I am so sorry to hear this news and will be praying for you both. My heart goes out to you but prayers asking for God to over rule, will be going up. I have known several friends who have used the immunology treatment and it has worked, even though the treatment itself still brought side effects and some suffering, there was a recovery. In one case the immunology company offered free treatment in Qld for those wanting to go in a trial group (but that was several years ago.) Several were in the advanced and aggressive stage who recovered. Praise God.
    May God’s presence be very precious to you both and family. May ‘His strength be perfect in weakness.’ May you have time out as needed to give your wife full support and the hospital allow that (our local Qld public hospital rules as that next of kin/support person can go in even if un-vaxxed as long as only one support person is in the room). ‘
    ‘When one part of the Body suffer all suffer’
    May God pave the way and tend to your immediate needs, as the Good Shepherd, and raise up the finances. (For years I have prayed different treatments go on the PBS list so all can access it. May God bring that about this financial year, even though it may be too late for you to access then.)
    May Romans 8.28 hold true for you both
    with thanks for sharing such a painful subject; praying for Gods comfort and strength for every step. May Christ’s love be evident amidst adversity…Gail

  20. Dear Bill, Of course…your wife and yourself will be in our prayers for healing and for the financial needs to be met. My wife and I have both fought cancer and in my case continue to do so…so we completely understand your situation. However, your need is front and center at this time and we will lift you two up in prayer. We continue to believe the HEALER, not the liar. Please keep us posted on the ‘crowd funding’.

    God bless
    Ron Adams…stateside

  21. Tough, tough times indeed Bill.
    The big C is a such a dreaded word when delivered to a patient.
    I have such a simple faith that believes the latter part of Isaiah 53,5
    By the stripes of Jesus Christ, WE ARE HEALED.
    I am now on my knees praying and quoting this verse now for you Bill, that your cancer does not rear it’s ugly head and complete healing for your dear wife, both soul and body.
    Terry, New Gisborne

  22. God bless you and your wife, Bill as your go through this season.
    May you be healed & delivered from these cancers in Jesus’ name.
    As always you both remain faithful and a witness to the love and grace of God. He will use that witness as He has many times in the past.

  23. I believe “triple negative” could actually be one of a number of different cancers.

    It sounds like you are on the right track for treatment. From my experience surgery should be done asap. Chemo was able to reduce the size of my wife’s breast tumor but it did not prevent the spread to the lymph system which is hugely important for survival.

    Yes everything should be done to support the immune system because it is the best hope of overcoming this. Keep her healthy and include immune supporting foods and drinks so that all possible immune resources can be directed towards the cancer. You need to understand, however, that for the cancer to have become detectable it means it has already managed to bypass the immune system so her immunity will need to change in some way, possibly miraculously, to be able to deal with the cancer.

    Heartbreaking, I know, but now might be a good time to consider a DNR. If it arises that there is little hope of a cure an early opportunity for death is likely to be the easier option and you should prepare for this possibility.

    Let us know what information you have on this new treatment. My wife was on a trial for an immune supporting treatment but it did not help. At the moment I just can’t remember which pharmaceutical company it was from. Whether a treatment will work may depend on which of the “triple negative” cancers it is.

    Praying for you and your family.

    May God provide a miracle to His glory and praise. Allow us, Lord, to take authority over this disease to Your glory Lord God of all creation, Heaven and Earth. Amen.

  24. Hi Bill, sorry to hear about your wife’s situation. We are with you in prayers and will sincerely pray for you and wife as you’ve requested. We believe our God hears and answers prayers. I pray that Jehovah Rapha will touch your wife and heal every cell of her body in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

  25. Dear brother,
    Ok, so after the choking in my throat and spasms of tears and the heaviness in my chest, I just want to ensure you that God has heard from me. I have petitioned him with thanksgiving to bring healing to you and your darling wife. I wish i could be there to give you a hug and just be there. I know by faith that no matter how much heartache I am having over your situation that the Lord has infinitely more concern and care and sympathy and i trust Him to show it to you.
    Love Bob

  26. Praying for you both. Please lease us know about the crowd funding because I would love to make a donation. GiveSendGo is the Christian alternative to gofundme and you wouldn’t risk having some nut job with their panties in a bunch get your listing cancelled.

    I have never been on Facebook, God doesn’t want me there, so I just now learned of this.

  27. On a more pragmatic note has there been set up on a “Go Fund Me” type site that we can assist you with your financial struggle?

  28. I’m so glad you did share Bill. On the Prayers for your wife and family NOW.

    You must be able to be with your wife in these times, it is just evil that not being vaxed would be an issue. Covax is close, as something that might be of interest?

  29. A million thanks guys for the comments and the prayers. We have decided to go ahead with the immunotherapy. A friend has set up a Christian crowd funding thingee, but I am now having real problems trying to access and activate it. So prayers for that as well would be good. When it does get up and running I will let you all know.

  30. Hi Bill, So sorry to hear about your wife’s breast cancer, she is in our prayers, as well as yourself. I will pass this on to our church’s prayer chain (if that is alright?). You have been a faithful servant to our living God and our Lord Jesus Christ, praise Him that he is in charge. Paul

  31. I am so sorry to hear your sad news Bill. I will pray according to your prayer points and also ask for a miracle.

  32. Hi Bill, rest assured of my prayer for your beloved wife, Averil, as well as you and whole family. My now longstanding daily prayers for world’s sick naturally include those I don’t know of. So the prayers were flowing up to Our Divine Healer the moment the cancer was confirmed. May God comfort and reward you for your trust and courage.

  33. Dear Bill and Averil,
    Julie and I stand with you both in prayer for God’s healing touch and His loving embrace of comfort. Mark Landgraf sent me a note informing me of your situation. Sheboygan will be praying for you and your family! Thank you for all you have done through your ministry through the years (I’m enjoying the Darrell Bock commentary on Luke you recommended!)! May God hold you tightly in His loving, merciful hands.
    Love,
    Jim and Julie Hess

  34. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife Averil. Most of us have been touched by this dreadful disease with friends or relations. God is our strength and fortress. Gloria and Nevil.

  35. Praying for you Bill and of course we are praying for your wife. Sorry for these things besetting you but it calls us out of ourselves and into concern for others. Blessings my friend.

  36. Dear Bill and Averil,

    Be assured that Linda and I will be supporting you both in prayer and financially as well.
    As parents, we too have been touched by cancer and the support we received far and wide was so energising to our faith in Him. We serve a faithful God who hears.

    Bruce and Linda

  37. Praying for your wife Bill.
    There are patient assistance programs available from pharmaceutical companies for non PBS listed treatments. You can call the main number in Australia of the company who makes the immunotherapy and ask for details on eligibility.

  38. Dear Bill.
    I’ve just seen your article and my love and prayers to both you and your wife. May your needs to meet by those who love you and we that appreciate all your work and service for God’s kingdom.
    kindest regards
    Joy from Busselton

  39. I am a (retired) nurse from Canada, who stumbled upon your blog during Covid. I’ve appreciated your godly thinking, exhorting & open sharing. I will pray for you & your wife. I’m not inexperienced in oncology, so if I may offer one small suggestion? (You are absolutely free to ignore me). Your wife should be taking adequate vitamin D (along with K2), and not much else other than a multivitamin at most. Vitamin D is a prehormone, and breast cancer is hormone influenced. Inadequate vitamin D messes with parathyroid, etc. I hope this does not offend.

  40. My name is Elisabeth Bannerman asking for a prayer for Gods Divine healing for Cancer of the Breast ,with the spread of the cells in the Body and i am starting a Radioactive Therapy for Cancer i am hoping with your prayer Gods healing power will heal me completely. i am a resident of Accra Ghana

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