This heading is a bit odd you say to yourself. Well, I agree. Typically, its “the calm before the storm”. However, in my case its the exact opposite. I have experienced a 3 month period where the storm was all around me—the fractured right humorous bone, the 5″ tumor behind my C2-C7 cervical spine, the lesions in my left 7th rib, the left illiac, the extreme fatigue from radiation and the targeted immunotherapy pills, and a very sore neck from too much radiation. Yet I remain confident our God will restore me to my original health. I do not doubt the Lord. The Bible tells us in James 1 verse 6-7: “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord”. This scripture really spoke to me as I have been going through what has been the most painful time in this cancer journey. Notice I didn’t say “my cancer journey”. I am not taking this on as my own. The disease belongs to Satan and I refuse to accept it from the being that wants to kill, steal, and destroy.
I have a faithful friend that continues to send me articles regarding suffering, encouragement, and healing. In this particular case she sent me a 6 page article from Pastor John Piper regarding suffering. This specific article talks about suffering from a Christian’s point of view. The Bible passage that Pastor Piper uses in his article is Hebrews 12:12-17. Let me share it with you. “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”
Notice the word “therefore” at the beginning of this passage in verse 12. This means that what we saw last week in verses 3-11 is part of the basis for the exhortations in verses 12-17. The main point of last weeks text was the pain and trouble you are experiencing is not a sign of hatred of God, but the love of God. Verse 6: “Those whom the Lord loves he disciplines.” Your persecution is not a sign of God’s treating you as enemies but as sons. Verse 7: “It is for discipline that you endure; god deals with you as with sons.” Your suffering is NOT MEANINGLESS, but designed for your good and your holiness. Verse 10: “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness”.
As you can see if you are a believer and you are suffering all is not lost. In fact, you will be looked upon in a greater way from a Heavenly perspective. God’s Goal for us Is Deeper Faith and Holiness. So here is the sum of the matter: Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run the race of the Christian life no matter how hard the course. To that end, lay aside every encumbrance and every sin. Pursue peace. Pursue holiness (notice He doesn’t say happiness) Don’t let your suffering discourage you and make you fall or tempt you to leave the race track. Don’t forget that in all your suffering your Father is in charge and loves you and designs for you and in you the very things he is calling you to pursue. Don’t be like Esau who would not lay aside even a single meal, but traded away his soul. There is a boatload of good information in John Pipers resource called, “Fail Not to Obtain the Grace of God.” Feel free to google it for your own edification.
Next steps: I will forever believe Jesus wants to heal me. So I will continue to seek Him through all pain and suffering. Instead of focusing on the symptoms of the disease I will focus on his many promises of healing in the Bible. In June I will be getting a cervical MRI to check the tumor and a C.T. Scan to check if there are any nasty lesions lurking within my body. On June 2nd I turn 60. I am looking to make it to at least 70 because in Psalms God tells us that we will live 3 score and 10 more. Even longer if you are good to your parents. (Its Mother’s Day this Sunday be sure to be good to your Mother!) I continue to pursue a personal relationship with our Lord as I long to be closer to Him. The only way to get closer to Him is to read his word and be obedient to His commands. If there is anything you can do to live a better life it is by accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior and repenting from our sin. I cannot share anything more important that this message—the Gospel of Christ. The point I am attempting to make is that you do not have to be alone in your suffering and your life challenges. As a Christian we are not guaranteed a trouble free life. In fact, Christians can expect troubles. However, our Lord tells us that he will “never leave us or forsake us”. He will stand beside us in our infirmity. His support may come in many different ways–through faithful friends and family, doctors, pastors, priests, etc. He will make His presence known. Trust me. I have been leaning on Him for 10 years through this crappy disease. I have been blessed beyond belief in so many ways in my life even in my infirmity.
I long to help others with their suffering. If there is anything I can do for you please contact me via email or my cell at 612-804-5630. I will be happy to pray for you over the phone. Come on just take the step forward.
Living to glorify the Lord!
Craig D. Giles, aka Papa G.