Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Sunday, August 29, 2010

“The Waiting Game”

I traveled recently with my dad to Pittsburgh. It was finally time for the cat scan to determine the stage of his cancer and find out whether the disease had spread. Following the cat scan, we proceeded to the clinic where we would finally know exactly what we were dealing with…or so we thought.

The surgeon explained that a questionable spot showed up on the scan. The finding was undetermined until the radiologist could take a better look. If the spot was not classified as cancer, it was detected early as a stage one. If the spot was cancer, he would jump to a stage four. Now, if you are familiar with cancer language you’ll realize that a jump from stage one to stage four is HUGE. It would mean a more advanced cancer with more complicated treatment.

So, we play the waiting game. Face it! No one likes to wait! It starts very young, doesn’t it? Children have a knack for impatience. Whether it’s a baby's cries for nourishment, a child getting caught shaking the presents beneath the Christmas tree, or “Are we there yet?” asked a thousand times while traveling, kids find it hard to practice patience. But are adults any better? Getting angry when there’s 15 cash registers and only 3 are open, recording a favorite TV program just to fast forward through all the commercials, or bashing a hand against the steering wheel while cursing a slow moving vehicle in a no-passing zone…we just don’t like inconvenience!

Many of us are in a season of waiting. You may be single waiting for the perfect mate. Maybe you’re out of work, waiting on a job to open up. Perhaps you’re a couple waiting to get pregnant, or even waiting for a wayward child to return home. Others may be waiting on their own test results. No matter the case, these examples of waiting are more than just an inconvenience. This waiting can be painful, helpless, and downright fearful at times. It demands our focus, our thoughts and our energy, and places our life on hold even though it continues to pass us by.

So just how are we supposed to wait? And what are we supposed to do while we wait? First, I think it’s important to point out what waiting on the Lord is NOT. This waiting is NOT passive. It’s not just sitting around hoping it will get better. Biblical waiting is active, is disciplined, is confident, is trusting, is enduring. It’s an active daily decision to put your hope and trust in the Lord.

The act of waiting requires PATIENT HUMILITY. To wait means that I must recognize that I am NOT in control, the timing is NOT up to me, and I do NOT have all the answers. So just what is the result of humbleness? Proverbs 11:2 tells us that pride brings us disgrace, but the reward of humility is wisdom. Destruction is the result of a prideful heart, but a humble heart brings honor, (Proverbs 18:12). In Micah chapter 6, verse 8 tells us, “He has showed you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” We all have been taught that a verb is an action word. The Lord asks us to not just be humble, but to WALK humbly with Him. Walking humbly with the Lord is crucial to actively waiting.

A second component of active waiting is PATIENT TRUST. Do I trust God that He has good reasons for me to wait? Do I honestly trust that God knows what He’s doing? “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) God is our eternal rock and the reward for our active trust in Him is perfect peace. Psalm 125:1-2 liken those who trust in the Lord to Mount Zion which cannot be shaken and endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so also the Lord surrounds His people. And yet in a more familiar passage, we learn that we must trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways we should acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths! (Proverbs 3:5-6) Acknowledging God in all our ways is active trust and in doing so, He promises us a steadfast mind which leads to peace. He assures us that we cannot be shaken, and He will provide us with direction.

PATIENT PRAYER is yet another component to active waiting. James 5 asks us, are you in trouble? You should pray. Are you happy? You should sing songs of praise. Are you sick? You should call the church to pray over you. We are to offer our prayers up in faith and to pray for one another. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Jesus also instructs in Luke 18 to pray and not give up. We see a picture of the widow as she continually sought the unjust judge for justice. For some time he refused her, but because of her persistence the judge granted her plea. “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (vs. 7) Prayer is active, whether you are speaking or listening. Both are crucial to tapping into the heart of God. Don't give up!

One more key to active waiting is a PATIENT HOPE that is irrepressible. Paul writes in Romans 8 concerning this. “Hope that is seen is not hope at all. For who hopes for what is seen?” In other words, if I already had it, I wouldn’t have to hope for it. But, if we actively hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 12 instructs us to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust - there may yet be hope.” Seeking, waiting, bearing the yoke, burying our face in the dust in prayer… each is active response. Paul goes on to tell us, “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” The Lord answers before we call and hears while we still are speaking. (Isaiah 65:24) The Lord rescues and protects those who acknowledge His name. He will answer those who call upon Him. He will be with those in trouble and will deliver them. (Psalm 91:14-15)

If you are experiencing a time of waiting, and are questioning God’s hand, allow me to encourage you to evaluate the process by which you wait. Are you actively waiting? Are you waiting with humility? Do you confidently trust God? Are you praying daily about your situation? Do you possess an irrepressible hope? If what you ask for is not in God’s plan for your life, is He alone enough for you? Just remember, the transformation that takes place in us while we wait is more important than the very thing we wait for.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint“ (Isaiah 40:30-31)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

“Fear Not”

If you are reading this, and you have a pulse, and you are breathing…most likely you are human. And if you are human, I would bet that you have experienced fear in one way, shape, or form. Now, there are common phobias, such as Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders, Acrophobia - the fear of heights, or Cynophobia – the fear of dogs. But those aren’t the kind of fears I’m speaking of. I’m talking about fears that keep me from my greatest potential.

Satan uses the spirit of fear in many different ways. He sometimes causes me to worry, which makes me miserable. When I’m miserable, I’m ineffective, preoccupied, and I don’t take any risks. Satan likes to hang my past sins over my head and use the potential for failure to keep me from stepping out. He gets a thrill out of reminding me of my weaknesses, and causing me to fear the criticism of others. These presumptions cloud over my view of God and His plan for my life. Lately, the devil has been placing seeds of doubt in my mind…and yes, you can call it fear…fear of what the future holds.

I turned to the bible to investigate just what it had to say about fear. I was amazed to find an abundance of passages that spoke directly about it, but one in particular really caught my eye. Isaiah 41:10 states, “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The first things that jumped out at me were two distinct “I am” promises. First, God says, “I AM with you!” Second, “I AM your God!” Wow, what a simple, but awesome realization! God promises to be with me and I don’t need to worry because he’s my God…he’s got it all under control! Hebrews 13:5 says that God will never leave me or forsake me!

There are three more promises that come next. First God promises STRENGTH in any situation. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.” Remember, he is the God that can accomplish even the impossible…so we don’t have to fear! When I feel like I just don’t have the strength to go on, I can look to God to get me through.

Next, God also promises HELP. How is it, that sometimes I don’t think God is helping me? Sometimes my pride keeps me from even asking for help. Sometimes I ask for the wrong reasons or with selfish motives. James 4 verses 2 and 3 state, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Sometimes I ask with the right motives, for the right reasons, but I lack the faith. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does,” (James 1:5-8). The key here is to believe and not doubt!

The third promise from this one small verse tells me that God will HOLD ME UP with His righteous right hand, a hand of power and of salvation (Psalm 20:6). Psalm 89:13 tells of how God’s arm is endued with power…how his hand is strong, his right hand is exalted. Now those are the kind of hands that I want to be in!

God promises to strengthen us, help us, and hold us up all in one verse! God can bring us victory in every situation, if we only allow him to. We are reminded of this in Romans 8…nothing can separate us from the love of Christ…not our financial struggles, not our troubled marriages, not even cancer! So why do we continue to allow the fear of the past, the fear of the future, the fear of what others think of us, the fear of failure, the fear of our present circumstances, to keep us from experiencing God’s best for our lives?

I had a vision recently. I was actually in prayer for a friend of mine who needed a breakthrough. As I was praying, God showed me a picture of someone with arms full, holding on tightly with clenched fists. This person was in anguish, holding on with all her might…until finally she released her grasp. Dropping everything, she opened her hands toward heaven and was able to receive a precious gift. I believe this picture was meant for my friend, but I also believe it is a valuable lesson for you and me. As long as we are clenching our fears tightly in our grasp, we cannot experience the full potential of God in our lives. It is not until we let go, that with open hands we can receive the precious gift that awaits us. We need to start recognizing that God is greater than our need. His assurance is promised to us, but only through letting go of our fears with an obedient heart.

I like to picture Isaiah 41:10 as if God has me totally surrounded. He is over me (I am your God). He is beside me (I am with you). He is within me (I will strengthen you). He is all around me (I will help you). He is underneath me (I will uphold you). So if God is everywhere, then, whom (or what) shall I fear? 1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love, perfect love drives out fear. God is perfect love, therefore; He cannot co-exist with fear. It is time to stop defining my future in terms of my fears and start defining it in terms of my God.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

“Confessions of a Crackpot”

A “crackpot”, as described by Merriam-Webster, is “one given to eccentric or lunatic notions”. Many of us have used this term when referring to others with foolish, harebrained ideas. I must confess…I have had my own share of crazy ideas, but that’s not the only problem. Who am I, really? I am an ordinary, unimportant person in the grand scheme of things. How in the world can God use someone like me, especially through suffering?

What’s God’s definition of a “crackpot”? In 2 Corinthians chapter four, Paul agrees that all Christians are merely crackpots! The only difference is an “ed”. We are nothing but “cracked pots”, jars of clay. Verse seven states, “but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Paul borrows this image from the Roman army. After a victory, the Romans would return carrying the spoils of war…gold, silver and jewels…all hidden in plain clay pots. It seems to me that an ordinary jar of clay would be an unlikely vessel to carry such treasure.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s like placing the world’s most expensive diamond in a brown lunch sack! Certainly something this valuable should be carried by a container worthy of its contents! Then, I recalled how God chose to send His own son to earth. Our precious Savior could have been sent as a glorious King. Instead, God chose a most unlikely subject - a baby, a carpenter’s son. God did this so that His glory would be MORE glorious than the package that contained it! He did it to show His power! First Corinthians chapter one speaks of how God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong so that no one may boast before Him.

Verses eight and nine of 2 Corinthians four go on to tell us how we are hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. Yes, we must endure pain and suffering, but here’s the good news. As we read on we also receive a promise. We are NOT crushed! We are NOT in despair! We are NOT abandoned! We are NOT destroyed! Even in these hard times, there is an opportunity to share our treasure. Our pot may need to get cracked, it may even need to be broken, but God will never allow us to completely shatter!

In Judges chapter seven, we read about Gideon, the least of his family from the least tribe of Israel, yet God called him to deliver Israel from the Midianites. God decreased Gideon’s army to a mere 300 men who were to fight against an army numbering in the thousands…not the best of odds! God told Gideon to take earthen jars, put torches in them, and circle the enemy camp. At the sound of the trumpets, the pots were to be broken so the light would break forth. The Midianite army became confused. Seeing the lights surrounding them, the soldiers assumed they were being overtaken. In their panic, they began to kill one another. Gideon’s army was victorious, but it was not until the jars of clay were broken that the light burst into the darkness and God’s purpose was served!

And so it is with you and me! We are weak and fragile people, simply cracked pots! But we were created to carry the most precious treasure within us…the gospel of Christ. Just as He did in the bible, God continues today to work the extraordinary through the ordinary in order to “show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”. (vs. 7b) When we are cracked and broken by life’s trials, God’s light can shine brightly through us! God wants to demonstrate in us a different attitude towards life’s difficulties, an obvious love, joy and peace that makes others take notice, and even confuses them. It is not about us, but instead about God’s work IN us.

In this, I have experienced a new sense of freedom, a liberation. Even in my frailty, God can demonstrate His glory in me, as chipped and flawed as I am, to bring new life to others. When I am broken, His purpose is revealed. I confess, I am simply a crackpot in the hands of an all-powerful God!

Friday, August 20, 2010

“Beyond the Weeds”

Anyone who knows me for very long will soon figure out that I do NOT like to garden. Don’t get me wrong….I LOVE beautiful flowers and flowerbeds! I just don’t like the work. Most of all…the weeding. I hadn’t done the weeding for quite some time. Actually, picture a jungle and you pretty much know what my flowerbed looked like. With hesitation, I gathered my gloves, my wheelbarrow and trimmers and set out for what was going to be an incredibly daunting task. I was frustrated to see how I had let the garden go, causing myself a lot more work than if I would have kept up with it in the first place.

As I labored for several hours, I began to notice the difference. The garden began to look neat and kept again. I started to feel pretty good about my progress. Working through a particular portion of the “jungle”, I caught a glimpse of the most beautiful shade of yellow. This made me work a bit faster, for I eagerly wanted to see what was hiding beyond the weeds. I finally was able to clear enough away that I could see it! Hidden among the jungle of weeds was the most beautiful butterfly bush I had ever seen, bearing the most lovely yellow flowers!

It all became clear to me just then! The year before, I had replanted a dying butterfly bush in this very spot…just hoping that it would survive. I had totally forgotten about the small bush that was now just peeking out beyond the weeds and was so amazed that they had not totally choked away it’s life.

In Matthew chapter 13, we see Jesus speaking in parables. Verses 24-30 specifically are teaching on the Parable of the Weeds. A landowner had sown good seed in his field, but the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. The wheat sprouted, but so did the weeds. The man’s servants came to him and questioned whether good seed had ever been sown. They asked him where the weeds came from and if he desired for them to pull them up. The master answered that it was the enemy who was responsible and if they pull the weeds they will also root up the wheat. At the time of harvest, the harvesters were to first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles in order to be burned. Then, the wheat could be harvested and brought into the barn.

Oh, how it is with our spiritual garden! At the moment we accept Christ, He plants the good seed in our hearts. Right at first we are excited about knowing Him. We water the seed by reading His word and praying. We cultivate the soil by going to church and getting involved in ministry and the plant begins to take root and grow in our hearts! Then, Satan begins to sow poisonous seed in us just as the enemy in Matthew 13. The weeds in this passage happen to be darnel, a poisonous weed organically related to wheat. It was difficult to distinguish between the weed and the wheat in it’s early stages. As it is with us today, the enemy sows the cares of the world in our hearts and it’s so subtle at first that we sometimes can't tell the difference between good seed and bad and are easily deceived.

The weeds begin to crowd out the beautiful work that the Lord first planted within us. Sometimes the weeds grow for a very long time. They take root and are not easily removed. But as we begin to strip away the very things that keep us from Him, we catch a glimpse of the beautiful treasure that is hidden beyond them. Once the “weeds” have been removed, the work that Christ first began has room to grow and blossom into something beautiful for all to see… just like the butterfly bush!

I’ve been there…how about you? I’ve allowed Satan to come and sow poisonous seeds in my heart. Seeds like the desire for material things, the love of money and recognition, the pursuit of the American dream, and fear and doubt about the future…most recently, fear about my dad’s future with this thing called cancer. God taught me a most valuable lesson in the garden that day. Just as I procrastinated in weeding my garden, I have allowed the weeds to take root in my spiritual life. They have crowded out God and have taken over. It took me hours and a lot of sweat to clean my garden up. In the same way, I need to work even harder to strip away the weeds in my own life so that the work God is doing in me can grow and blossom without hindrance!

There’s a seed called cancer that lingers among us. Satan wishes to sow the seed as a weed of discouragement, defeat and destruction. But God wishes to take that same seed and plant it in the fertile soil of His mercy and His grace. As He lovingly waters it with His peace and comfort, it will grow into something beautiful!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The word of the day….perseverance. Sometimes I like that word and other times I don’t. Well this happens to be one of those days that I don’t like that word. Sometimes I just don’t feel like persevering! Sometimes I feel like I just don’t have the strength to persevere! …And I’m like a little child throwing a temper tantrum at God!

So, now my thoughts in this thing called cancer have taken a journey from, “why my daddy?”, as undeserving as he is, to “why do good people have to experience such bad things?” As if God’s previous lessons weren’t enough for me, I continued to question. Why would a just and loving God allow his children to go through such awful things? Why do we have to persevere through it anyway? And on and on I go with that little temper tantrum that seems to have gotten the best of me.

Gently, the Lord took my hand and it was as if He was saying, “Open my Word and you’ll see.” It was one of those moments when you just open your bible and there it is staring right back at you. Now I won’t say this happens to me often, actually it is a very rare occurrence, but I believe it was what I needed to hear at just the right time. The passage is from Romans 5:1-5.

Vs. 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ok, let’s stop right there…this is a beautiful picture of a believer‘s relationship with God! We are God’s children…and if we have placed our faith in Him, we are at peace with Him and can be at peace with any situation we are in. We were once considered His enemies, but the word says we now are His friends!

Vs. 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

So, not only are we at peace with God, but because of our faith we have gained complete access to His presence and His grace, and we have confidence that He has a purpose for our lives! We can rejoice in this marvelous hope!

Vs. 3-4 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Hold the phone! Did I read that right? Did it just tell me to “rejoice”? Certainly God would not require us to rejoice because we are suffering! As I continued to meditate on the scripture, I decided to read the footnote in my bible and it was just like a light bulb that lit up in my brain and I got it! We immediately assume that we are to rejoice “because OF” our sufferings, to be happy that we are going through this trial. But the text actually reads, “IN” our sufferings. What a difference one little word makes! Paul is not urging us to be happy that we are suffering. He simply is encouraging us to make the best of our situation, because no matter what…we win! Part of God’s purpose for us in our trials is to develop perseverance, character, and hope. I once heard it said that God is more interested in our character than He is our circumstances.

Vs. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

Hope. We suffer so we might persevere, we persevere so we might gain character, we gain character and it gives us hope. And hope does not disappoint! No matter what we are going through, we have hope and it’s promised to us by the One who has poured His love into us through His Holy Spirit!

I have never met anyone who has not suffered in some way. I can’t think of anyone who has never experienced pain, or has never gone through some sort of trial. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” There’s that word again, “perseverance”. Good people suffer so they might gain character and hope through perseverance and the result of that perseverance is “the crown of life” that is promised to us by God‘s Word. We persevere in our trials and we gain eternal life in the end! We win!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


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 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”.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

“My Darkness is as Light to You”

I recently traveled with my dad and my sister to Pittsburgh for the results of my dad's biopsies. It was here that we were given the news that he does in fact have laryngeal cancer. The next step is to have a cat scan done to confirm what stage and if the cancer has spread, if it has...most likely to his neck region.

God may not have given us a miracle now, but that doesn't mean He won't give us one down the road. If I know my dad....he's going to offer hope and encouragement to someone in a waiting room somewhere who's waiting on their own next round of chemo or radiation, or tell a nurse or technician what God is doing in his life. That's just the way he is. And giving the gift of hope and the knowledge of Christ to someone else is in itself a miracle!

I have found comfort and hope today in Psalm 139:

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

My darkness today is my dad's cancer....what's your “darkness“?....what's that trial or problem you are going through? Sometimes I feel as if I have made my bed in the depths. Sometimes it seems as if I’ve settled on the far side of the sea. I am claiming God's promise that He is there with me! I know that no matter where I go, I cannot flee from His presence....He loves me (and you) that much! And even though I wallow in that darkness, that pain, that trial....that very darkness is as light to Him. God never promised life would be easy, but He DOES promise to walk with me through the darkness every step of the way!

I cannot help but ask God why. Why would my dad, a man who has loved the Lord all his life, a God-fearing, praying, faith-filled, encouraging man who has never smoked or drank or done anything to cause harm to his throat, has only spoken words of encouragement....why this man, who's traveled on numerous missions trips and given time and money to the poor, who's given himself sacrificially to care for my mom.....why should this man be inflicted with cancer?

The Lord told me two things.....He led me right back to John 11....He said, "So that others will see and believe". And the second thing...He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10...

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

May the Lord's power rest on you in your weakness so that He may display His awesome strength in the work He has for you to accomplish! Remember, it's not about's all about HIM! It's about Him doing His thing through ordinary, (and like it or not), "weak" people like you and me! We cannot do it without His power resting on us. In just living life, sharing our stories, and being givers...may others see Him in us and believe, even in our darkest times! Even on this journey with this thing called cancer!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

“Why Delay?”

Recently I spent time with my Circle of Friends in Tennessee. While there I received news that my dad had made the trip from Ohio to Pittsburgh to undergo surgery on his vocal cords. But before I go on, I should give some background information. For quite awhile my dad’s voice was hoarse. He would just talk and begin to lose his voice, and it just didn’t seem to get any better. His family physician referred him to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who found a white substance on his vocal cords. A biopsy was taken and found to be negative. Symptoms continued and my dad was referred to a vocal cord specialist in Pittsburgh. The specialist took a look, finding a lump, she suggested surgery.

On Monday, July 26, (while I’m in Tennessee), my dad went into surgery. The doctor removed the lump and took several biopsies of some suspicious tissue. Later that evening I spoke to my sister on the phone. I was shocked to hear that the doctor was fairly certain we were dealing with cancer. I just couldn’t believe it! I was so sure that since the first biopsy was negative, that it just couldn’t be this thing called cancer!

Fortunately, I was surrounded by my loving friends who cried with me, prayed with me, listened to me….and committed to keep praying! In speaking with my dad, I felt so guilty that I was not with him. But his response was, “you are right where you need to be”. And I believe I was! Had I not been in Tennessee, I would not have been surrounded by 30 some women who committed to pray for my dad and my family! I promised my dad at that moment that I would be with him to receive the results.

As many of you already know, cancer can turn your world upside down! My family has already had experience with it. You see, my mom is a survivor of bladder cancer, and just 2 short years ago, had a large brain tumor removed and went through radiation. My dad has been a wonderful caregiver to her, stepping up to get the housework done, cooking, etc. He is her rock….which makes this all the harder. What if dad really does have cancer? What does this mean for our family? What does this mean for my mom? So many fears, so many questions…where is God in all of this? Does he even care?

God led me to the story in John 11. If you recall, this is concerning the death of Lazarus. Jesus delayed before coming to Lazarus. But why delay, when He knew Lazarus, the one he loved, was sick? Jesus could have gone right away to heal Lazarus! But He deliberately delayed, why? The scripture tells us, “so that those who would see the miracle would believe“. I think Mary and Martha didn't timidly tell Jesus, "If you would have been here, you could have saved him." No, I believe they were angry and did not understand Christ's reason for delay. Jesus understood their pain, He was moved deeply, He was troubled, and He wept and He comforted them. He didn't yell at them, He didn't condemn them. In the same way He feels our pain and longs to comfort us.

Jesus has purpose in waiting to answer us, just as He had purpose in waiting to go to that others will see and believe! He shows up right on time...not always in our time! It is for God's glory that God's son may be glorified through it (vs. 4). Like we do so often....Martha continues to doubt and question Jesus in Vs 39 when Jesus orders the stone taken away....Martha instead of responding with great anticipation, she responds in doubt and unbelief. Oh us to believe!

I am claiming Jesus' promise today...believing He understands my pain and though He may choose to delay His answers in my trials, He does so with purpose for His honor and glory! My hope is that you may do the same! I am excited to see just what God is going to teach me on this journey with this thing called cancer.