Saturday, January 10, 2009

Joy Amidst Reality

Last Saturday night in the middle of the night, I woke and began pondering some disturbing and sad things. Two women I know in their thirties (with three kids each) are fighting cancer. I was pondering how, if God is on the throne, and He is—and I am still acutely aware of and in wonders I cited in my previous post—then what is the deal in these two situations? Sometimes when I wake during the night I get up and have some quiet time, but this night I prayed a bit and then had a sense that my question would be answered in the morning (Sunday) and was able to fall back asleep.

In Sunday School, we had a guest speaker, a visiting missionary from Pakistan. He spoke from Isaiah and about those troubled times and likened them to the present. He mentioned that in troubled times, hold on to the things you know are true. He has been asked whether he should leave Pakistan now, as it is very unstable, and he said, no. People are asking questions and the message of hope is needed. Biblical hope is assurance—not just a whimsical wish. He also recounted two accounts of people who had sought out his ministry after they had visions/dreams of Christ which they did not understand.

The sermon was on the subject of being joyful even in tough times. As I sat there, I was acutely aware that I was receiving the answer to my question from the middle of the night. The pastor spoke about how God has a purpose and God is at work. He mentioned Philippians 1:29, that suffering can be part of the calling in the life of a Christian. Tough times show the world the truth of His Word. There is power in weakness. There is joy in choosing to understand spiritual realities versus focusing on temporary problems.

I reflected on the lives of the two young women with cancer. April told me that she asks God to give her someone to encourage every time she waits for her treatments—and God provides. The waiting room is a gloomy place, patients are slumped in their chairs, but they sit up taller and liven up as she engages them. Her faith is strong and she is an inspiration. The other mom, Melissa, has a blog,, in which she shares her journey and testimony. She feels God carrying her through and has peace, even through the trials. God is working, in these situations, too.