Did God Forsake You If Cancer Surgery Isn’t 100% Successful?

Never will I leave you or forsake you. I suppose pretty much every Christian knows that line. Or something like it, depending on which translation you read. It’s from God. But do we know where it comes from? And of course, the ultimate questions related to that line – do we believe God will never forsake us and do we live like we believe it?

When Your Cancer Surgery Isn’t 100% Successful

Does God Forsake You If Cancer Surgery Isn't 100% Successful?

But first things first. Let’s look at what this claim about God will never leave you or forsake you has to do with cancer surgery.

I had my surgery two weeks ago for prostate cancer. Statistically, the most likely scenario was that removing the prostate would also remove the cancer. All of it. Based on genomic testing, biopsies, and an MRI, it should have been contained. Had not spread yet.

Well, as I learned in business school, there are three things to know about statistics. Namely, that there are lies, damned lies, and, statistics. (No attribution for who said this first, since there are arguments over that.)

The point is, mine wasn’t 100% successful. Naturally, I was reminded that they were only the best odds available given the results of testing. It was never guaranteed. Of course, I knew that. However, it wasn’t exactly the first thing I wanted to hear. In fact, I didn’t want to hear that at all.

The biopsy of what was removed showed cancers cells on both ends. That means there were cancer cells visible through a microscope from both ends of the removed prostate. Which, naturally, means there are also cells from both ends still in me. To make it simple, look at the image above. Rather than a bunch of well-formed cells, indicated by the round green pegs, I’ve still got at least two (almost certainly more than two) cancer cells, as indicated by that (almost) square red peg.

And so, the question arises – did God forsake me?

I’m sure some of you answered yes. Others said no.

Some probably said I should never feel like God would ever forsake me. Others might disagree. Some say that even thinking God might forsake us is just cause for the surgery to not be successful! To them, I say, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I believe you are wrong.

So, at this time, let’s take a brief look at where this claim of God will never leave you or forsake you comes from. I’ll warn you now, we’re not going to follow it all the way through just yet. Only take a look far enough to whet your appetite for more and maybe to show why there is disagreement over whether or not it’s “Christian” to even think that God might forsake us.

I will never leave you or forsake you – said God

So, where did this statement from God come from? The most likely place of origin for many Christians is in Hebrews. I say that because the only time it occurs in the New Testament is Hebrews. Of course, that references back, presumably, to one or more Old Testament passages. Doesn’t it?

I will never leave you or forsake you – referenced in Hebrews

So let’s look at this reference in Hebrews. It’s something that the Jewish people of Jesus’ time were familiar with. Of course, these days, we Christians seemingly tend to forget that “our” Old Testament is actually Jewish Scripture. And maybe even, somehow, that Hebrews was written for the Jewish people in Jesus’ time. Let’s try to keep that in mind as we read the passage below, and as the discussion continues.

Concluding Exhortations – Hebrews

OK – so we’re in Hebrews. Why? Because, many Christians have a tendency to look to and even only read the New Testament. And Hebrews is the only book in the NT that contains the line about God not leaving or forsaking us.

This is one of those rare instances where I’m not going to include the entire passage. As you can see from the NIV section title, it’s a series of exhortations, strong advice or recommendations, at the end of the “book”. As such, most of them don’t apply to what we’re examining today. Therefore, we’ll only look at the immediately applicable verses. Feel free to use the verse links below to examine the entire passage online if you want.

Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”


What’s your immediate thought about those verses? Hopefully you noticed how specific they are. The sentence about marriage, adultery, and sexual immorality may or may not apply here. It’s really hard to know. The translators seem to want them to be related, since they put them in the same paragraph. However, that’s not necessarily the case. But even if it is, it’s clearly a very specific instance.

Moving on, we see the thought about the love of money and being content with what we have. Again, rather specific instances.

I bring up the specificity because none of them have anything to do with cancer. Or with many other common events.

I know we have a tendency to over-generalize things in the Bible, trying to apply them to cases where no such application appears justified. Therefore, I’d really like something better than this as my reference point about God will never leave or forsake me.

I will never leave you or forsake you – referenced in Deuteronomy

Since the Hebrews reference appears quite specific, let’s try some of the verses that commentators think are the source origin for what was written in Hebrews. The first is in Deuteronomy.

Joshua to Succeed Moses

Dt 31:1 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ 3 The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said. 4 And the LORD will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Dt 31:7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This doesn’t look very applicable either. Once again, it’s a very specific instance. Furthermore, it’s Moses saying this, first to all the people on Israel, then to Joshua specifically in front of the Israelites. We still haven’t actually seen where God said this Himself! Wouldn’t that be a good thing to find?

I will never leave you or forsake you – referenced in Genesis

Maybe this one will work out better? It is the very first instance of God not leaving someone.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

Ge 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Oops. Once again, this is a specific person – Jacob. And yet, there’s a trend developing here. Let’s finish the passage and then see if you recognize it.

Ge 28:16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Ge 28:18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

Ge 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

I will never leave you or forsake you – what is the real application?

So – did you catch the trend? Yes, these are specific instances. However, while varied, they have the same promise from God. Furthermore, while addressed to an individual person, those people are “doing God’s work” for “God’s people”. Check out the list below:

  • Hebrews – was addressed to the Jews who were converting to follow Jesus
  • Deuteronomy – Joshua was replacing Moses, as the one chosen by God to lead the Israelites.
  • Genesis – This is God speaking to Jacob.  Yes, Jacob was one man.  However, per the passage below, Jacob’s name was changed in a manner that made his new name represent God’s people.  Name changes, made by God, are always significant.  As such, we cannot just pass it off without considering the full impact of the new name: Israel.
Jacob Wrestles With God

Ge 32:22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Ge 32:27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.

Ge 32:28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

Ge 32:29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

Ge 32:30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Ge 32:31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Given all this, it seems reasonable and acceptable to think that God’s promise to never leave or forsake you applies to all of God’s people.

I will never leave you or forsake you – New Testament examples?

There are three times in the New Testament when we read about someone being forsaken. Two of them are the same incident, recorded in the Gospels of both Matthew and Mark. Let’s look at what Mark wrote:

The Death of Jesus

15:33-41 pp — Mt 27:45-56; Lk 23:44-49

Mk 15:33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Mk 15:35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Mk 15:36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

Mk 15:37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

Mk 15:38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Mk 15:40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Jesus cries out to God – “Why have you forsaken me?”

There are a number of things to note about this, but let’s look at four of them. First, Jesus clearly is surprised about the feeling that God did forsake Him. We’ll get more into what that might mean shortly. But the immediate point is that Jesus has an expectation that God will not forsake Him.

Second, remember that Jesus was Jewish. His expectation likely comes from Old Testament Scripture, not on some special relationship between Father and Son. Even just the few passages we looked at set up this expectation.

Third, given that Jesus never did or said anything that didn’t come from the Father, these words were for us to hear.

And fourth, given that Jesus’ life was, among other things, an example for us to try to follow, it makes sense that this promise of not leaving or forsaking us applies to Jesus’ followers, Christians, as well as to the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people of the Old Testament.

I will never leave you or forsake you – are there constraints on this promise?

I feel like I need to include this to be precise about if/when it applies. I believe the evidence in the Bible points to this not being a promise to never leave or forsake – no matter what we do. At least, not the way we might like to think. It’s not a promise of life’s going to be great. Not is it a promise that no matter what we do, God won’t leave us or forsake us. There is that unforgivable sin of blasphemy against / quenching the Holy Spirit.

You may remember, from the Old Testament, that God often said something to the effect of “They will be my people and I will be their God”. And you may also remember that the people often turned from God. Then, eventually, God would turn away from them. For a time. Here’s one example of that from Jeremiah.

Two Baskets of Figs

Jer 24:1 After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the craftsmen and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the LORD. 2 One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very poor figs, so bad they could not be eaten.

Jer 24:3 Then the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the poor ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”

OK – two baskets of figs.  Good figs and bad figs.  About to become an analogy.

Jer 24:4 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

The people represented by the good figs will be given a heart to know God. They will be God’s people and He will be their God.

Now – we need to know that at this time, the people had turned from God and God was angry with them. So the people represented by the good figs are the ones that will turn back to God. Although not stated in this example, these were generally the ones who had cried out to God to save them.

So, while they had been God’s people, they turned away. Therefore, as we saw, God turned away from them. For a time. When they call out to be saved, God will turn back to them. They will be His people once again.

Jer 24:8 “ ‘But like the poor figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,’ says the LORD, ‘so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. 9 I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, an object of ridicule and cursing, wherever I banish them. 10 I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their fathers.’ ”

But for those represented by the bad figs, no reconciliation is forthcoming.

I know, this sounds evil. But consider this. Both sets of people got what they wanted.

Those that wanted to be saved by God – they were saved and returned to being His people. God gave them what they wanted.

Those that didn’t want to be “saved”, who preferred the life they had without God – they also got what they wanted. God did not return to them.

The thing that I feel we have so much trouble with is that both did get what they wanted. But we view one as coming with a reward, while the other comes with a punishment. We lose sight of the fact that out of His supreme love, God gives us the free will to choose to live with Him – or without Him. And we ignore all the warnings in the Bible that living without God is death.

The very simple reality is that if we want God to leave us, He will. And just as surely, when God leaves us, we are forsaken. What we are not is without warning. We are warned. We are told of the consequences. But we choose to not believe them.

I will never leave you or forsake you – are there constraints on this promise in the New Testament?

Actually, yes, there is an example in the New Testament where a church is about to lose its status as a church in Jesus’ eyes. And it has everything to do with the people in that church forsaking Jesus. It’s the church in Ephesus. Here’s the letter to that church, with the key verses underlined.

To the Church in Ephesus

Rev 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Rev 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Rather than go into the explanation here, I refer you to more details from a series on all seven of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. Or if you just want to look at the letter to the church in Ephesus, it begins at Revelation – The letter to the loveless church in Ephesus – (1) Intro.

In case you decide not to read further, the very short version is that many people in that church forsook Jesus, their first love that He refers to, and so He is about to forsake them unless they repent.

Did God really forsake Jesus on the cross?

Let’s go back and look again at the verse where Jesus asks why God has forsaken Him.

Mk 15:33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Doing the research on this was very interesting. Most of what I found was authors who were quite sure they had the “right answer”. That there was in fact only one answer possible. Although, not all agreed on what that answer was! Fascinating. Overconfidence is often not a good thing.

In any case, I decided to use three of the ones that presented different scholarly thoughts as possibilities. All of them reference back to Psalm 22, which Jesus appears to be quoting in this cry to God. So let’s look at it first.

I’m not going to say much about this Palm at this time. It really deserves its own write-up, which will have to come later. I’m including it really to give you a sense for what it’s about. It’s often referred to as “The Crucifixion Psalm”

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

Ps 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

Ps 22:2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

Ps 22:3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.

Ps 22:4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

Ps 22:5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

Ps 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

Ps 22:7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

Ps 22:8 “He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

Ps 22:9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.

Ps 22:10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Ps 22:11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Ps 22:12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Ps 22:13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

Ps 22:14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

Ps 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

Ps 22:16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

Ps 22:17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

Ps 22:18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

Ps 22:19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Ps 22:20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Ps 22:21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Ps 22:22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.

Ps 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

Ps 22:24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

Ps 22:25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

Ps 22:26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

Ps 22:27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,

Ps 22:28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

Ps 22:29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Ps 22:30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

Ps 22:31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Even though this is often called the Crucifixion Psalm, it is something David wrote about his own situation. And it’s something we probably often feel like at various points in our life. True – we aren’t Jesus. And we aren’t David. And yet, relatively speaking, we do have times when compared to “normal”, things are especially bad. And we feel, at least to some extent, like this. And we cry out to God for His rescue.

But still, the question I have – Did God really forsake Jesus, or did Jesus feel Like God forsook Him even though God was still with Him.

Why have you forsaken me – option 1


This is a quote from Ps. 22:1. Since the Jewish scrolls had no chapter and verse divisions (all of which were added to Bible texts in the middle ages), it seems that by quoting the first verse, Jesus wanted to highlight the entire Psalm.
There is a difference of scholarly opinion on how this phrase should be translated

1. The Septuagint has “O God, My God, attend to me.”
2. The Peshitta (translated by George M. Lamsa) has
a. Ps. 22:1, “My God, my God, why hast thou let me live?”
b. Mark 15:34, “My God, my God, for this I was spared!”
3. The Jewish Publication Society of America has, Ps. 22:1 as “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”
4. Codex Bezae (fifth century) has “My God, my God, why have you reviled me?” For a full discussion of the Gnostic problems connected to this verse see Bart D. Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Affect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, pp.143–145.

Jesus was experiencing the last full measure of human sin—separation from fellowship with the Father (cf. Isa. 54:2). Humans were created for fellowship with God; without it we can never be whole!  1Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 197). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

Some of those options do not include God actually forsaking Jesus. In fact, only #3 clearly shows God leaving Jesus.

Why have you forsaken me – option 2

33–34. The darkness which occurred at the sixth hour (noon until three o’clock) along with the outcry My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me (Ps 22:1) bespeak of the harshest hour of human history. Although the exact meaning of the separation is debated, Bible students agree that it induced the greatest anguish.  2Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2004). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

This one only goes so far as to say it was a time of great anguish.

Why have you forsaken me – option 3

Jesus hangs on the cross for three hours—from midday until mid-afternoon. The world is plunged into darkness as the dreadful drama reaches its climax.
On the verge of death, Jesus cries in Aramaic, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’—the opening words of Psalm 22. He is totally desolate. As if it weren’t enough to be deserted by friends and tortured by enemies, Jesus now feels abandoned by God.  3Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., pp. 466–467). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.

And finally, this last one states that Jesus feels abandoned. Not that Jesus really was forsaken by God – only that Jesus felt abandoned by God.

Why have you forsaken me – an options analysis

Keep in mind our topic – Does God Forsake You If Cancer Surgery Isn’t 100% Successful? This is about us – me, in this instance – us, in general. At a time of great anguish. In my case, finding out that, against expectations, the cancer wasn’t completely removed. In your case, whatever is happening to you.

Also, let’s not lose track of the simple fact that we are people. Jesus was both God and man. But we’re interested in the man Jesus, not Jesus the Son of God. And that’s assuming it’s even possible to differentiate, since we don’t really know how that whole 100% man 100% God even worked. But if we look at Jesus’ life, His words and examples, being for us to try to follow, I feel like we should be able to do that.

Do we really think that Jesus, Son of God, in His role as God, even could be separated from the Father?

Or is it more likely that Jesus the man cried out to God? After about 33 years of an intimate relationship between Jesus the man and God in that body, wouldn’t it be quite a shock to not have that anymore? But does that also mean God forsook Jesus the man?

There are just so many questions. But I often feel like we get lost in the weeds, trying to find answers that we don’t really need. The simple observation, and one that would be an example to us in our everyday lives, trying to follow Jesus’ teachings and His example, is that Jesus probably felt deserted. Left alone. Forsaken.

I know I’ve felt that way often enough. And yet, after too much time, I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t deserted. Left alone. Or forsaken. I felt that way, sure enough. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were times when God turned away from me. And yet, that still doesn’t mean I was forsaken. Or left alone. Or ignored. Yes – I got into worse trouble. But I also found my way back. Not because of my ability to find the way on my own. But because I was one of those in the “good fig” basket, apparently.


Jer 24:4 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Yes, God “turned away” from those people who turned away from Him. And yet, we still read My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

It’s not about land anymore. And we aren’t literally planted and uprooted. But we are given a heart, by God, to know God. To become one of His people (again). To return to God with all our hearts.

I believe that’s at least one of the lessons for us to take away from “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Conclusion – Does God Forsake You If Cancer Surgery Isn’t 100% Successful?

So – after all that, I hope my answer is obvious, finally. No, I don’t believe we can/should conclude that God forsakes us if cancer surgery isn’t 100% successful.

I have used words very close to those lately. Not just for the cancer, but maybe more so because of something that happened just before the surgery. We’ve had Donnie, a little Havanese (dog), for 15 years. He had kidney failure for the last ten months of his life. We were almost constantly together because of that. (No – he wasn’t in any pain and had a good quality of life that whole time.)

We actually didn’t expect him to live as long as he did, but the treatment worked really well. Shortly before the surgery they expected Donnie to live at least a couple more months. But then his seizures, which had stopped during treatment, came back way stronger and more frequently than before. The meds required to control them would be too much for his little body.

All of a sudden, totally unexpectedly, Donnie wasn’t going to be there during my recovery. I was crushed. Felt left alone. Forsaken. Could only ask God – why?

I went through weeks of depression, including for the surgery and first few weeks of recovery.

But instead of leaving me alone, God gave my heart the ability to follow Him again. To be one of His people again. To know He loves me. And is looking out for me.

I still don’t have an answer. But I do know that I have a purpose for still being alive. And it’s time to get back to it.

And in your case, if you’re following Jesus as best you can, and bad stuff happens, makes you feel like God left you alone, I urge you to call out to Him. Pray. And in spite of those who might think it’s wrong to ask God a question like why have you forsaken me – if that’s how you feel – ask Him. It’s not like He doesn’t already know the question is in your mind and in your heart. So be honest. Be open. Talk to Him. He is still there, still watching, even if we can’t feel it.

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

  • 1
    Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 197). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
  • 2
    Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2004). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
  • 3
    Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., pp. 466–467). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.

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