My wife Joy had invasive breast cancer in 1998. For 15 years following, we counted our blessings that the cancer had not returned. Many felt that God had healed her… that certainly was the prayer many of us had prayed.
In 2013 my wife and I returned from a visit to her oncologist. He looked a bit sad as he entered the room. The cancer had returned… “advanced/metastatic breast cancer” they call it. What’s up? Hadn’t we prayed against this?
Two Scripture verses help me to understand the presence of suffering even in the lives of good, God-honouring people. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In Revelation 21:4 we read that, in a time yet to come, Jesus “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
As my wife and I contemplated her situation we reminded ourselves that we aren’t home yet. Absolute healing is on its way. Whether we receive that here and now, or when we reach our eternal home is God’s call.
When Jesus came to earth, the kingdom of God broke into our world. We see signs of that, including healing. But the kingdom in its fullness will not arrive until Jesus returns at His second coming. Believers who did not receive healing before will certainly be healed then.
Here are three things that suffering in our lives does NOT mean…
- It does not mean God has forgotten us. Psalm 56:8 implies that God keeps a record of our tears. Psalm 139 reminds us that God is thinking about us constantly.
- It does not mean God has lost His power. The apostle Paul prays in Ephesians 1 that we would experience His “incomparably great power… the same power He exerted in raising Christ from the dead, seating Jesus at His right hand far above all rule, authority, power and dominion.” (vs. 19-21)
- It does not mean God does not love us. He sacrificed His Son for us. He invites us to cast our cares on Him… “So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” (I Peter 5:6-7 J.B. Phillips New Testament)
God is no stranger to suffering. He understands our emotions. He feels our pain. And as we rest on Him and allow Him to carry us, we discover a dimension to our relationship we may have missed otherwise.