Editors note: This article was originally published in 2006 when John Piper was treated for and recovered from cancer.
I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal — by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory, and that is why cancer exists. So, not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.
It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer, but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So, when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (Job 2:10) — and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe God designed your cancer for you, you will waste it.