Sowing and Reaping Articles

Life Matters: Part 1

“God, you are making a really big mistake here,” she fumed. “There’s absolutely nothing you can ever do to make up for this because it’s too awful.” There “were hundreds of people in sixteen states praying for me . . . So it seemed logical – at least to my emotional self, to ask God why everything was so hard.” So writes Lynn Eils of her experience with cancer.

Confronting God’s wisdom when our lives are turned upside down or inside out seems logical and normal. After all, things may not have been too bad before being immersed in sickness or suffering, pain or panic, dying or death. But when life comes crashing down, what then? There is a zone in life that we seem to enter when the clouds turn to marble and the sky turns to brass. Heaven is silent. We feel abandoned, betrayed, ignored, neglected and our prayers seemingly go unanswered and our very existence threatened. This One whom we thought was kind and caring, close and comforting, present and powerful has vanished – nowhere in sight, and deaf to our cries. 

I have never met anyone who looked forward to suffering for the sake of suffering. It would not be natural. Even Jesus said, “Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me.” (Mark 14:16 NLT) We all know that did not happen. I cannot even begin to imagine what went on in the mind of Jesus as He uttered this cry. Could He have felt twice betrayed? Once by Judas and then His Heavenly Father? No. Jesus endured it for what He knew would be far better for Him – for us. But we cannot see the future as he did or does. 

Unfortunately, there are times when we bring suffering upon ourselves. We may knowingly break God’s laws as revealed in Scripture or man’s laws that have been designed to protect us. Considering the carnage from drinking and driving – or even speeding, as a beginning. What happens when you see blinking blue lights or the wail of a siren? It becomes a signal that something is out of control and there may be trouble. We become alert to danger. God works this way quite frequently. 

So, how should we, as Christians, look at sickness and healing? For one thing, to understand healing from the context of scripture, it suggests a wholeness or completeness of body, mind and spirit that begins with the new birth. Paul declares that “those who became Christians became new persons . . . a new life has begun.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)  Many times when individuals make this initial commitment to God through Christ, the experience of life, tensions caused by anger, anxiety, fear, frustration, greed, guilt, resentment or rage are released. More and more physicians and clinical researchers are coming to believe that many illnesses have their roots in emotional distress. When we surrender all of ourselves to God and agree to live the plan He has for our lives, the unhealthy distress can become a “peace that passes all understanding,” and we can accept what He brings into our lives and can live securely in His strength. Remember, life is not fair, but God is faithful.

Consider also that there are times when our troubled minds need healing from a lack of trust in His divine plan. When we become disturbed or distressed beyond reasonable limits, it is so important to turn to His word – especially the Psalms – to be reassured of His comforting love and awesome power to remove the stressors from our lives. Perhaps, too, our spirits have become hardened from an “I can do it myself, thank you” attitude, and we need to search internally for what may be separating ourselves from His promises. At all times we need help and hope to get us through life’s trials to learn what He has to ultimately teach us through His enduring, eternal love and presence.

God may, at times, be attempting to change our behavior because of sin and/or disobedience to His plan for us. Strange as this may seem, this proves His concern for us. “Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, His child? He said, my son don’t be angry when the Lord punishes you. Don’t be discouraged when He has to show you where you are wrong. For when He punishes you it proves that He loves you. When He whips you it proves you are really His child.” (Hebrews 12:5, 6) I can remember when my earthly father did this. Paul reminds us this is a characteristic of our Heavenly Father also.

Perhaps we are allowed to suffer that we may learn that pain and grief are part of the human condition and that no one is given a free pass. Through my pain and suffering I can better and more completely understand and feel with those that are going through “the valley of the shadow of death.” Paul said “for to you has been given the privilege not only of trusting Him, but also of suffering for Him.” (Phil. 1:29) And certainly, understanding from a personal experience.

Finally, I personally believe that God brings suffering into our lives that we may be able to use it to His glory to minister to others. This is tough! Through events in my life, God has opened many doors so that I may witness of His goodness and presence in my life through the gift of cancer. Certainly it was not my choice to go through this event. But I now wear a yellow bracelet and when people question my relationship to it, it opens many doors to tell of His grace and goodness, His peace that passes any medication or procedure produced by man. Lynn Eils would never have written the book “When God and Cancer Meet,” never started the longest running Cancer Prayer Support or become a cancer advocate representative so she could witness to others unless she experienced the devastating experience of cancer in her life. Or if she knew where her journey would have taken her if she would make that statement.

Don’t forget, God sometimes gives pain when He wants to get our attention. Unfortunately, we can’t experience anything in life without letting Him in to experience it with us. Let’s learn to look beyond the pain and suffering, find God, and allow Him to work wonders in our lives.