As many of you know, Lanie, a precious little girl from our church family, has been battling cancer since she was a baby. Last week her condition progressed very quickly. So, I’ve decided to take a short break from our Proverbs wisdom series and take this opportunity to share with you how I've seen the Lord working in clear and obvious ways.
During the days that I spent at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the suffering and grief of the families around me was overwhelming. The diagnosis of cancer in a child is impossible to cope with, and I am once again left wondering, “How do people manage without Jesus?” I don’t have an answer to that question. As a pastor, I have considered the suffering and pain I have seen, and it has produced a kind of mental tension. As a man of faith, I know God exists and I trust Him fully and completely. But having seen many really sick children, I can honestly say that while I do trust God, I can’t possibly understand all the reasons why God does what He does. As I have considered pain and suffering, I see a great tension between human mourning and spiritual faith.
As Christians, we like clear answers because these kinds of tensions create turmoil in our souls. However, we know Jesus exists and we know He is good.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
But we also know children suffer from cancer. Families experience a grief so deep that it pierces your very soul. This grief is such that those cookie cutter clichés you see on greeting cards don’t even cut the surface of the pain. I used to think as a pastor I needed to try to settle that tension but now I don’t think I can. It’s not that I doubt God. If anything, my faith is stronger because of what has happened. I have watched the Spirit of God move and bring strength and peace that is supernatural. But I also know that in my limited ability I can’t begin to know all the reasons why God allows these things to happen.
That is the point of trust. Trust doesn’t mean we understand all the reasons for pain and suffering. Trust says I choose to put my faith in God even when I don’t understand.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Let me illustrate it this way: Imagine you are standing at the top of a large snow covered hill. You make a large snowball and roll it down the hill. As the ball leaves your hands it begins to get bigger and bigger. It goes faster and faster. You don’t know for sure what will happen to that snowball – what path it will take or where it will stop. That snowball is affected by everything that lies in front of it, everything it comes into contact with, and an infinite number of other factors. That’s what it’s like with grief and faith. Like the infinite paths that snowball could take, we can only see a small part of what God has done, what God is doing, and what God is going to do. But God knows exactly what could and what will happen.
As I close, let me share a couple of amazing truths that I pray build your trust today:–
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. Our hope is fixed not on circumstances but upon King Jesus. I Thessalonians 4:13
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! Job 19:25-27
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. Revelation 21:4
Life is a gift. Life is precious and life is brief. Trust Jesus today and hug those you love a little longer before you say goodnight!