I don’t know what mind set or attitude I will have when a really hard trial such as a prolonged illness, or a diagnosis of a major disease or cancer, but I so hope that I will bear it in the light of God’s sovereignty over all things, and rest with that.
I have, however, been blessed to see up close and personal, some people in my local congregation that have done just that. Do they want to be healed? Why certainly. Are they disappointed when healing seems far away or perhaps not in the will of God? Of course. But they trust God. They trust and realize that they live under his Sovereignty, that God is in control, and that he alone knows best.
We have this one couple, the Mitchells, who at the time had a 2-year old grandson, named Jon, who had been diagnosed with cancer. He has spent about half of his life in the hospital with tubes. The Mitchells have had to step in with their other grandchildren, while the parents spent most of their time in the hospital with Baby Jon.
At one time, after many prayers had been lifted for Baby Jon, the Mitchells had reported that there was nothing else that could be done. They had accepted whatever God’s plan was for Baby Jon and their family.
A recent post from Jon’s mother documented that it was just 3 years ago that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and now Baby Jon, by the grace of God, has been doing well, no more tubes, no more prolonged hospital stays. The family’s response: “I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness to us.”
We have another young couple of four whose wife has a debilitating condition for which it appears the doctors cannot figure out what exactly is wrong with her. She has not been able to provide direct care for her children. Her husband, who is one of our elders, has had the weight of caring for his wife and children while being faithful to his elder duty. Have they prayed for healing? Yes. The church has had them on the prayer list for almost a year. What’s their prayer request? Their printed prayer request in our weekly prayer meeting bulletin is below.
“God’s continued grace in being content, humble and patient in their present circumstances. Increased relief of Jennifer’s symptoms, and a confirmed diagnosis. For Steve as he balances shepherding his family and ministry at IBC.”
Lastly, I walked into Sunday School early one morning, and saw one of our new members, Janet. I went to her and admired her new haircut. She then confided that she wanted me to pray for her because she had to go in that Wednesday for a lung biopsy. I prayed with her right there, and then promised to pray for her on that day. (We often say that we will, but often forget. So this time, I made myself a reminder and followed through.)
Janet sent me an email thanking me for praying and to let me know that it went smoothly. She writes:
“My lung biopsy went smoothly, praise the Lord! I had supernatural peace the night before and morning of the procedure. I experienced no pain! Jesus was with me all the way and He guided the hands of the doctors and nurses!! Now I wait for the results – I was told maybe 3-5 days. I do hope and pray my little nodule is benign! But I will accept whatever the Lord has planned. I know He is Sovereign over all things, even lung nodules. My main intent is to glorify him.”
Janet is right. Our primary purpose is to glorify God. Our lives are made to glorify God! He is our Creator. We were made for his good pleasure, not ours.
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3 NASB
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers–all things were created by him, and for him; 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16, 17 KJV
It’s hard for us. In the west, we are groomed to think that it is all about us. It takes quite an awakening to learn that it is not. So, what’s the purpose of our trials?
God uses trials to make us stronger in the faith, and to make us more like Jesus Christ, so that he would be the firstborn of many. Romans 8:29
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding.” I Peter 4:12, 13 KJV
Am I standing with my hand in the air for God to send a hard providence to me? No. But it is my prayer that I will respond as these saints do. I do believe that God will work all things out for good for believers, but that does not mean that my life will never have difficulty. As Christ has suffered, I must be willing to suffer. Yes, I can and should pray for healing, and seek healing, but when God does not, I must accept that he knows best, and that his grace will be sufficient.
P.S. Permission has been granted to share their personal stories.