In this past month, the congregation of my church has witnessed a miracle. Last fall, our senior pastor was diagnosed with leukemia. I blogged about it last December and April. After months of grueling treatment and a bone marrow transplant, the doctors have said Pastor Dave’s bone marrow is 100% his donor’s.
So, this is the hard part. I will admit I’ve been having a hard time with this. Not that I didn’t want to see Pastor Dave healed. Nobody should have to endure physical suffering and months in a cramped hospital room. The difficulty has been in watching God answer this prayer, while knowing that He didn’t answer others.
Twice I’ve had to hear a diagnosis of cancer in a family member. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, side effects, emergency room visits. All that has been too familiar. Tracking updates on the God's Got This website brought waves of memories of dealing with my parents. My heart has ached for the Stoecklein family—the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of coping with someone with a serious illness is difficult and oftentimes overwhelming.
One would assume I’d be thrilled to have been at church last weekend when Pastor Dave returned to the stage for the first time in months. The sanctuary was filled to capacity and there was a tangible sense of joy permeating the air during worship. Even then, I was still battling with God.
Why has Pastor Dave been healed and my parents weren’t. Yes, I know (in my head) about God being sovereign and just and how we, in our tiny, limited minds, can’t fully comprehend His plans and actions. But my heart still grieves the losses and that tiny voice inside whines, “It’s not fair.”
Then, as He’s done many times over the past several years, God spoke directly to me through Pastor Dave’s message.
Lesson 1: Life is about bringing God glory.
Ouch. My selfish attitude certainly hasn’t been doing that. Even though I’ve faced many losses, there are numerous ways God has blessed me and provided for my needs. He deserves my praise, not complaints.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21, NIV)
Lesson 2: Family is wonderful, but you need more than that.
Ouch again. My focus and attention need to shift away from my dead parents and onto the relationship I have with the living God who has promised to always be there for me. Connections with others are important, but they are only temporary.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18, NIV)
Lesson 3: Decide in advance that my faith is in the God who is able regardless of the outcomes.
One more ouch. I’ve been deliberating over this lesson since I heard it last weekend. Twenty years ago, I put my faith and trust in God. Through trials, tragedies, and triumphs, I’ve believed that God knows what He is doing and can be trusted to provide and protect me. Once again, I must actively choose to believe in this same God knew what He was doing when my mom and dad were diagnosed with brain tumors.
Yes, the prayers for their healing weren’t answered, but many other prayers (even some I’ve never actually prayed) have been fulfilled and for that I am truly grateful. Today I will choose to rejoice in the answered prayers for Pastor Dave and trust each tomorrow to my Heavenly Father.