“Aunt Betty lost her battle with cancer.” We often hear a phrase like this, commonly murmured respectfully in church. It meant this wonderful Christian woman, my wife’s Aunt Betty, died.
I hate this expression. It suggests that we win the battle with cancer when we live (through some treatment) or the cancer is in remission (for a while) or the operation removed all the cancer (as in my case). Thus, if the person dies, “they lost.”
Well, not to be insensitive, but everybody dies. As Billy Graham cleverly quipped, “The death rate is 100%.” By saying that death is losing, then everybody eventually loses.
That is not the Biblical view. Did Paul lose his battle? He certainly didn’t talk like he lost:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
We win the battle with cancer (or any other disease) when we keep the faith. When the disease doesn’t make us bitter, when we don’t lose our confidence in the goodness of the Lord, when we remain faithful followers of Jesus, then we have won the battle.
Aunt Betty was a godly Christian woman until her last breath. Cancer didn’t defeat her faith. Even though Aunt Betty died of cancer, she won her battle.