A sad reality in some circles today, is the false notion that suffering shouldn’t be part of the life a Christian – particularly a Christian that has faith.
One needs only to survey the Scriptures and look at the history of the Church to realize that many of the greatest men and women of faith also experienced deep pain and suffering. So as believers, we need to understand that difficulties and trials are not foreign to the Christian life, but rather normal and even essential in our sojourning.
And in the sovereignty of God, on November the 9th, I went to a follow-up doctor’s appointment, and received the news that I have rectal cancer… a report that felt like getting punched in the gut. After catching my breath, the walk from the doctor’s office to the car – where my wife and children were waiting – was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.
The next few days felt like a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from… spending time with my children was particularly difficult because I couldn’t stop thinking about the “worse case scenario,” which would just bring me to tears.
However, in the midst of the fear and the sorrow that overwhelmed my heart, what was also very real was God’s presence in my suffering. From the book I was reading outside of the doctors office that Monday (a collection of letters by pastor Jack Miller in which he often speaks about his battle with cancer), to the way I got connected to the cancer specialist that is treating me, to the comfort God has continuously provided.
Now as dark as this valley has been, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention how grateful I am for the many things God has been doing in my heart during this time. God has been sanctifying in ways that only suffering accomplishes, and teaching me to trust him in the midst of despair and doubt. His sovereignty and goodness have been a rock under my feet.
Now I’m aware that God is in no obligation to heal me, and that if He doesn’t, He is still good and his will is still perfect. But I’m also aware that my heavenly Father loves me and invites to come before Him with prayer and supplication…and I have been. He is merciful and able to, in His will, bring me out the valley and make me lie down in green pastures, and lead me by still waters.
So in the midst of the uncertainty, as I wait for MRI and CAT scan results to come in tomorrow, I must continue to remember that: For those who love God, all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). And although the waves in this storm have brought much affliction, may these words by Charles Spurgeon be real in my life:
I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.