Setting The Stage - June 21st

By Judy Nichols

June 21, 2015

Oddly enough, one of the first Scriptures that came to my mind when I was diagnosed with cancer twenty years ago was Job 2:10. "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In a way, this verse set the stage for all that would transpire over the next nine months. It was as if God was calling me to a venue that would stretch my faith muscles to the limit.

In the eighth chapter of Romans Paul declares the soaring truths that we who are in Christ are free from condemnation, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, children and heirs of God, beneficiaries of God’s plan and the Holy Spirit’s assistance, and headed for glory. In light of all this he asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Then he answers that we are more than conquerors and nothing in all creation can ever separate us from Christ’s love.

But right in the middle of it he inserts this quote from Psalm 44. "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded a sheep to be slaughtered" (v.22). Here is the disclaimer to the thought that because Christ loves us, nothing will ever go wrong. Paul has just asked if tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword can separate us from God’s love. These things can and do befall Christians as well as non-Christians. We are not exempt from suffering. The difference is that we endure it "for His sake." We recognize that God is with us in the midst of it. We trust Him for an outcome that may or may not be to our liking. We acknowledge His sovereign hand in the circumstances of our lives. He writes the script for the roles He calls us to play.

There are multiple Scriptures that testify to the beneficial effects of suffering. The most familiar one is in this same chapter: Romans 8:28. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." If things were always good, there would be no need for God to work anything for good. Earlier in the same book Paul says, "we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom. 5:3). And James chimes in with, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2).

I can’t say I nailed my role in this venue of cancer. I didn’t feel like a conqueror. Far from it; I mostly felt sick, and tired, and terrified. I put one foot in front of the other because that’s what I had to do. I trusted God the best I knew how but had no real sense of assurance about the outcome. I endured because there was no other option. My cancer was conquered, not because of me, but because of God’s great mercy. That is the thing we count on--the motive behind the writing of the script--God’s love, the real conqueror. © Judy Nichols 2015

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