Tim Keller shares cancer update, how supporters can pray amid 'treatment, isolation and covid'

Pastor Tim Keller, founder and former pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City.
Pastor Tim Keller, founder and former pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City. | Courtesy of A. Larry Ross Communications

Tim Keller shared an update regarding his battle with pancreatic cancer and revealed how supporters can pray for him as he navigates “treatment, isolation and covid.”

Keller, the 70-year-old founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and City to City, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in May of 2020. On Sunday, he took to social media to give supporters a health update. 

“After surgery last May, I was granted a “chemo holiday” (missing one treatment) and was able to get out of town with my family for several weeks,” he wrote. “On August 23 I had a scan and the primary tumor had not progressed. However a mystery lump underneath the May surgical scar was removed and proved to be cancerous.”

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The Hope in Times of Fear author said his doctor has increased his chemotherapy back to the level it was before “just to be safe.” Though the increased treatment will have more side effects, it will hopefully have “more therapeutic effects” too. 

“Pancreatic cancer is able to learn how to evade medication, so it is only God’s power that we look to for complete healing,” the pastor explained. 

“Please do pray that I will be able to fulfill my teaching and other obligations, and that the neuropathy and other side effects will be minimal while the medication will be effective against the cancer, and that we will run the race God has set before us with joy.”

Keller also thanked supporters for their prayers, crediting the power of prayer for upholding both him and his wife, Kathy, as they "navigate treatment, isolation and covid.”

The now-retired pastor is also a survivor of thyroid cancer, which he had in 2002.

In a previous interview with The Christian Post, Keller revealed he learned of his diagnosis while writing his latest book, which focuses on the transformative power of the resurrection. 

“Here I am, writing a book about the resurrection, and I realized I only half-believed I was going to die. I went back and realized that in some ways, I also only half-believed in the resurrection — not intellectually so much, but all the way down deep in my heart. I realized I needed to have a greater, a deeper faith in the resurrection, both intellectually and mentally,” he continued.

Facing one’s own mortality and spiritual reality, Keller told CP, drastically alters the way one looks at their time on Earth and magnifies the transformative power of the resurrection.

“The things of Earth become less crucial. They're not so important to you; you realize you don’t need them to be happy. Once I believe that I start to enjoy them more. I don't try to turn them into God; I don't try to turn them into Heaven, which is the only thing that can really satisfy my heart,” he explained. 

“You find that you have to really have a real spiritual experience of God's reality so that the things of this Earth ‘grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace,’” Keller said, quoting the century-old hymn.

The pastor told CP that regardless of what happens, he’s “ready for anything.”

“What the future holds, I don’t know. Pray that I would have years and not months left, and that the chemotherapy would continue to be effective. But we are ready for whatever God decides for me. We’re spiritually ready.”

“I do know,” he added, “that the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened. And when I die, I will know that resurrection too.”

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