I continue to consider this whole concept that I recently wrote about from John 11...that God allows us to experience trials “so others may see and believe“. Ok, I get it…but my gut reaction is one of, “well let them see and believe through someone else…I don’t want my daddy to have cancer! He doesn‘t deserve this!” My first response, and a selfish one at that. It’s so easy to focus on ourselves when going through something painful, whether it be cancer, a divorce, an unruly child….and the list goes on and on. Our first thought when faced with a trial, “why me?”
Well, my daddy taught me a most valuable lesson. But you must first understand something. We received the cancer diagnosis the day before my dad’s birthday. Not the greatest birthday present in the world! But on his birthday, the day after the diagnosis, I called to wish him a Happy Birthday as well as to see how he was feeling. He proceeded to tell me that he had made a visit to his pastor to tell him the news. But my dad did not just request prayer from his pastor, his main goal in the visit was to speak to him about how he can reach people for Christ through his cancer. How can he encourage OTHERS?
Can we say “reality check”? I had just gotten done having a pity party for myself and for my family when my own father, the one who was just diagnosed with cancer, was thinking about OTHERS! The pastor himself had to admit that in his 14 years of pastoring, my dad was the first one to come to him wanting to know what he can do for OTHERS through his suffering!
Now I don’t tell you this to puff up my dad, or to make anyone feel guilty about how they have dealt with their own trials. I merely wish to state how much of an impact his attitude had on me. I believe this is the attitude God wishes for us in any trial we face. The attitude of Christ. Instead of asking, “why me?”, simply ask “how can I help OTHERS through this?”, “how can this suffering bring glory to God?”
Philippians 2:1-5 says, "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."
As believers, we receive many benefits. Salvation offers us the gifts of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion. All of which Christ first displayed to us through His death on the cross and the forgiveness of sins. God calls us to be “like-minded, of the same love, and one in spirit and purpose”. What does this mean for me? It means that I am to take on the attitude of Christ...to be “others-minded”. The encouragement, the comfort, the compassion I have already received I can now freely give! We as Christians, are called to love one another, to work together, and to serve one another. We are called to unity, and the foundation of unity is humility. Despite all our differences, we are to imitate Christ’s self-sacrificing love for others. We weren’t meant to walk this journey alone. We weren’t created to do life by ourselves. God has allowed us to walk through the trials of life so we might provide comfort to OTHERS who are experiencing the same thing! Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about two being better than one, if one falls down the other can help him up. If two lie down together, they can keep warm and three is even better! We were meant to help one another!
With the assistance of his pastor, my dad is going to begin a support group for those personally dealing with this thing called cancer, and for their loved ones as they walk along-side them. It’s starting me thinking how I can be more active at being “others-minded”.