701 – What Surviving Katrina and Cancer Taught Me about Faith and Resilience


Media Format: Audio USB (MP3)

SKU: WC19-WK701A Category:


Is there a meaning to our suffering? Is hope realistic when tragedy befalls us? Is a return to
normalcy possible after our life is uprooted by catastrophe? These are the questions that
disaster psychologist Dr. Jamie Aten wrestled with when he was diagnosed with Stage IV colon
cancer at the age of 35. Aten?۪s journey began in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck his
community. After witnessing the devastation wrought by the storm, he dedicated his career to
investigating how people respond to and recover from all manner of disasters. He studied
disaster zones around the globe and founded the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton

College. His expertise, however, was little comfort when a fateful visit with his oncologist
revealed advanced and aggressive cancer. ???You?۪re in for your own personal disaster?۝ was his
doctor?۪s prognosis. Thrust into a battle for his life, with cancer cells and chemotherapy ravaging
his body, Aten found his professional interest taking on new meaning. His ordeal taught him
firsthand how we can sustain ourselves when burdened with seemingly unbearable suffering.
Some of his counterintuitive insights include: to find hope, be cautious of optimism; when you
want help the least is when you need it most; and spiritual surrender, rather than a passive act,
is instead an act of profound courage. This last point speaks to the element of grace in Dr.
Aten?۪s story. As he struggled to understand the significance of his suffering, he found himself
examining his Christian faith down to its bedrock and learned to experience the redeeming
presence of God in his life. Overall, in this presentation Dr. Aten will share an inspirational story
that integrates biblical and scientific insights for cultivating faith and resilience amidst adversity.

Presented by: Jamie Aten, Ph.D.

Learning Objectives
Participants will:

  1. Discuss biblical and scientific insights for cultivating faith and resilience amidst adversity
  2. Identify biblical virtues supported by disaster and trauma research found to foster resilience
  3. Name and describe spiritual fortitude