Please don't hit me when I'm down

It is hard, hard, hard to have cancer for 2 1/2 years and not be healed. I have heard from so many - even those I trust and love - rebuke instead of grace and love. Yet the Bible is so clear: the faithful suffer - Job, Paul, Jesus. Suffering - even big, huge, one-upon-another trials - is not in and of itself a sign of sin. There are nights I lay awake, laying my heart bare before the Lord in prayer. Spending hours in the living room trying not to disturb my family as I pore over Scripture and weep into my Bible. Is this my fault? Could I solve this problem somehow, through my own actions? Do I need to increase my faith? Change a sin habit? Let God "in" somewhere I have hedged Him out of? At times, I've had to table the issue, lay it to the side, and just put one foot in front of the other.

Not only have we been asked to live with cancer. To watch our daughter brought to death's door and come out of a devastating illness with injuries that may last her whole lifetime. To walk the daily walk of those suffering illness...a wife who hates resting spending countless hours unable to lift herself from her bed. A husband doing dishes and laundry instead of pursuing hobbies or his own chores around the house. Children who have a mortal dread of the hospital and emergency room, because they've been there countless times to visit, watching the adults they love and trust crying out to Jesus for healing that does not come. There is little that is fun about this life. There is joy, yes - but entertainment seems like a distant memory from the past. Daily we sacrifice to learn through this trial.

We've given up so much more. We've had to walk away from relationships we treasure because of our inability to see eye to eye any longer on this issue. Suffering is not popular in a pop Christianity culture. It isn't easy to explain. There's no 30 second sound byte that encompasses this issue. It's hard to preach that people may have to lay their lives down for the sake of the Cross. Are we willing to put feet to the words of I Corinthians 4:12? ...we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure. We've found comfort in our darkest days in the amazing growth God has provided through this string of trials. There are few we know who understand the place He has brought us to.
"It is as great a mercy to have your salvation proved to you under trial as it is to have it sustained in you by the consolations of the Spirit of God." ~ Charles Spurgeon
We've all been guilty of judging others. At times, we have to vote with our feet, and that inevitably involves decision-making, judgments, discernment. What if we confined our judgments to our own actions, and kept them out of our words? How many wounds would we avoid inflicting on those we love? God says not to judge others's not time yet! Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (I Corinthians 4:5) It's of note to me that this verse ends with us receiving commendation from God, not condemnation. Didn't He already mete out the condemnation to the One who hung on the cross? And how can we discern what happens in the hearts of others? We can barely make those calls about our own hearts - knowing our internal monologue, struggles, and victories.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~excerpted from Romans 8
The miracle of this is that I can let loose my expectations of human relationships, and let go of my guilt for cancer and my daughter's illness and our continued trials, because I am free in Christ and I am loved by Christ. He satisfies what no man can, He heals what no medicine can, He loves when all others cry condemnation. If I die alone in this world, yet clinging to Christ, I will die rich. It will be worth it all. All the suffering, the sacrifice, the anguish, the Bible pages bled through with tears and the nights of lost sleep and the pain and the bone-numbing fatigue. All this is so much less than what He silently suffered for me, before I ever praised His name or lived a day for His glory.

What if we all chose to follow Christ, keeping our eyes FIXED on the prize, not watching our brother's footsteps to make sure he, too, is trodding the sacred path? (Hebrews 12:2) How much more we might accomplish for Christ's glory...and how much less we might hurt those believers among us who are already knocked down in the battle!