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Tim Keller on Spiritual Life After Terminal Diagnosis: ‘I’m Closer to Where I Should Have Been Most of My Life’

“There’s no way to get [from] where I was to where I am now, I think, without going through the doctor saying, ‘You’re going to die from this.’ I wish there had been, but there isn’t,” Keller said. “But I’m glad I’m where I am.”  

Speaking to the “scanxiety” that comes along with undergoing regular scans to check the progress of treatment and potential growth of the cancer, Keller said, “For some reason, there are times in which the anxiety is worse than others, and I’ve never really been able to judge why, frankly. Sometimes, it’s just a lot worse.”

“And I think you have to remember that you’re both a body and a soul, and sometimes I actually feel like if I’m not keeping up my exercise, for example—it can be as simple as that—if I’m not eating the way I should…I find the anxiety gets worse,” Keller said. “So, to some degree, the anxiety seems to get worse when I’m just not doing all the other things. But, ultimately, what I have to do is I’ve just got to go to the Psalms.”

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“There’s nothing like the Psalms to teach you,” Keller added. “So the way I deal with anxiety is I keep my Psalms up and I keep my exercise up. That’s the best I can do.” 

When asked about how he approaches prayers for healing in light of the fact that God might not choose to heal him, Keller said, “I would say, I pray at least twice a day for healing—complete healing—even though my doctor told me there is no cure…I’ve been praying for healing. God can do it, or he doesn’t have to do it.”

“I mean, this is years and years of experience with him. When I look back on things that he did for me that, at the time, I thought were awful but now I realize were actually good for me,” Keller explained, “I just say, ‘Look, he knows.’”

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“Ultimately, I’m praying for healing, and just the fact that I may not get that is something that I say, ‘Okay, God knows,’” Keller said.