By Marcia McCready-Pallant
We all go through times of discouragement and unrest, when it seems that before we can digest one challenge, we are hit with another big one. During these times, it’s hard to see exactly what God is doing and walk by faith, not by sight. There is a fleshly beacon inside us flashing, “Unfair! Unfair! Unfair!” This word reared its ugly head in my desperate prayer last night. There was a sense of justification because, “It’s cancer, Lord.”
Cancer. It’s one of those words that change your life forever. It grabs hold of your self-sufficient, invincible nature with unbending vigor. One minute you think you have a lifetime, then you begin to look at best case scenarios. Oh Lord, teach us to number our days so that we may walk in wisdom. Wisdom is the holy messenger, which silences our sense of entitlement, and breathes peace, hope, and strength into the bleakest circumstance. So I can say with faith, It’s cancer, but you are still God.
The realization that God is still God regardless of where we find ourselves should meet our need for security and give us a sense of hope. Yet, difficult times can cause us to question the character and capabilities of God. Difficult times reveal our improper perceptions about God. We realize that we have invented a handicapped God, instead of a boundless, all powerful God. In our ignorance and immaturity we have perceived Him to be only a fraction stronger than us and likely not as compassionate or intelligent. We reason that if He was supremely compassionate and intelligent, there would be less variation from our agenda and much less pain and uncertainty. This may sound harsh, but our questions betray our core beliefs about God. Questions like: Why would God allow this to happen to my family? Does God really have the power to heal cancer? Doesn’t God see that I am trying to serve Him? Is God punishing me? And the questions go on…
In the past few months my perception of God has been challenged, and a new awareness of His supremacy and faithfulness has been established in my heart. I stand humbled and grateful in view of His mercy towards me. The Almighty Creator owes me nothing, yet He provides me with all I need for life and godliness. When I see God in all of His glory I realize, as Isaiah did, that I am unclean and in need of grace just to stand in His presence. I have realized the importance of holiness: for my God is holy. Then, as holiness has become my heart’s pursuit, thankfulness for the trials and tragedies has emerged, for they create the atmosphere in which I become more like Christ; the visible representation of God. The abundant spiritual harvest is of greater value than comfort or predictability in life. I now understand that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The Spirit’s resource of strength, comfort, security, rest, hope, and peace are an endless reserve. These revelations have led me to say, “It’s cancer, but you are still God. Thank you.” Maybe in time and with more maturity, I can even say, “Thank you for cancer, God. Thank you for this arena of growth.”
I will give you treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” ~Isaiah 45:3