Sunday, January 6, 2008

Suffering is Not the Final Word!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This passage of scripture reminds us that this life is not all there is - there is something more! [No, the hokey pokey is NOT what it's all about!] For those who place their trust in Jesus Christ, there is hope - because all the pain and suffering that we experience here on earth is nothing - nothing - in comparison to what awaits us in the eternal kingdom with God. We can look past our present circumstances and fix our minds on what is to come!

This morning, I was able to attend church and worship with my local group of brothers and sisters in Christ. What a blessing to sing and pray and hear the Word of God with other believers.

Our pastor taught from Romans 8:17-30 and reminded us that suffering is not the final word. Eternity, he explained, catapults our momentary afflictions into nothingness. Compared to what God has waiting for us, our present sufferings are nothing. He also reminded us that our present circumstances, even though they may be a surprise to us, are no surprise to God. God's purposes for us cannot be thwarted - God will continue to do His good work in our lives.

I was reminded that, although the diagnosis of cancer was a huge disruption to my plans for the year, God was not surprised. He was not caught off-guard. He already had a plan - a plan to use this cancer for my good and His glory.

A friend shared with me after the service this morning a sound byte he picked up from listening to a sermon earlier in the morning:
Courage is fear taken to God in prayer. As I thought about those words, I thought about how David is often described in the Old Testament as being courageous, yet we find him time and time again in the Psalms crying out in fear to God. I guess David's life demonstrates the truth of this sound byte.

Another friend recently shared with me this quote from War of Words by Paul David Tripp:
"Every word we speak must meet two standards. First, all of our words should bring God the glory He deserves. And second, our words should bring redemptive good into the lives of the people God has placed around us. This is a high calling for all our words - worship and redemption.

It is a blessing to be a part of the body of Christ - to have brothers and sisters in Christ who care about you, encourage you, support you, lift you up in prayer, and exhort you when you take your eyes off of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a blessing to love others and to be loved by others. It is a blessing to love God and to be loved by Him.

I would never choose to have cancer. None of us ever would! I would much rather be grading physics tests than having my body be put through so many tests - CAT scans, bone scans, biopsies, heart scans, MRI's and x-rays. I would much rather spend five days at a cabin on a lake than five days in the hospital getting chemotherapy. But I would not trade the intimacy with God and His Word that this cancer has brought to me for anything in the world. God is teaching me every day - more than I could ever record on paper! The cancer may be destroying my body, but God is giving me life - abundant life - in Him!

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