Oftentimes, when I come up with a title for a piece, I wonder what will people think when they read the title. The title for this piece can elicit a mixture of impression. One is that this must be awfully insensitive. The best way to debunk the immediate emotional responses I don’t intend to produce is to get right into explaining what I mean. So, here goes:
For those of us who know little to a moderate amount about the Bible, we know that suffering is a major theme in the holy script. From the beginning in Genesis when Caine killed his brother Able, to the painful death of Jesus on the cross in the New Testament, we see that suffering has been with humankind forever. When we read the New Testament, we find Jesus often healing individuals who have suffered with chronic illness for years. He comes to their aid with physical healing. There’s a story in the Book of John, chapter 9, verses 1-3, where Jesus happens upon a blind man. (If you can possibly think the Son of God can happen upon anybody.) His disciples ask Him a question about why the man was blind. Their inquiry seems almost comical, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Of course, the question for any logically thinking person reading this is, how could the man’s sin cause him to be blind from birth? Jesus goes on to say that the man was blind so that his healing would bring glory to God. Throughout the New Testament, we find instances of people being healed of ailments, where their healing provides encouragement to others and glorious recognition to the power of God to heal.
I recall years ago an associate of mine was diagnosed with cancer. She had been a Christian most of her life. As with most people who receive news of the “Big C” invading their lives, she was devastated. During the entire time of her treatment she wallowed in an emotional dark space, fearful of the outcome, despite the cutting-edge treatment she was receiving. She stopped going to church on a regular basis, and she wasn’t very open to the idea of people visiting her. As God would have it, she eventually went into remission and has lived a very fruitful and blessed life since being healed. Eventually, her experience became a testimony to the power of God to have positive effect in the life of one who suffers; however, there was a large amount of time when her faith seemed inactive.
There are many people, who claim belief in Christ, and they’re suffering from some form of chronic illness. I don’t mean to sound judgmental in the least bit by saying this, but these people don’t see the opportunities they’ve been granted to be an encouragement to others, who might be struggling with similar circumstances. I was guilty of this for a long time. Being an almost eighteen-year survivor of Multiple Myeloma (cancer of the blood plasma cells), I didn’t see the benefit I could be to others as I went through successful treatment. I went through many months of suffering. There was one episode where I almost lost my life, after contracting sepsis. This put me in a coma for six days. My family thought I was going home to be with the Lord. It took me going through this experience before I finally realized that my suffering and continued living were spiritual tools I could use to help others. Now, I find myself often sitting in the waiting room of my cancer treatment center, having conversation with recently diagnosed Multiple Myeloma patients. Once they realize I’m a long-term survivor, looking in the peak of health, the light of encouragement that shines on their faces is like the glow of a sun rise.
As we suffer and continue to live a life in Christ, we have been given an opportunity to show others how life is sure to place dark clouds over our heads; however, the light of our faith in Christ shines through the darkness. The best example of that light shining through is that we’re still alive, being a living testimony.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.