A common theme that underscores many conversations I have with others, is that my cancer diagnosis must be overwhelming. I understand why this is so. Cancer should be overwhelming. It is a terrible disease. In my own strength, there is no way to stand under the weight of this shadow of brokenness and death. Let’s be honest, in my own my strength I would crumble. To face one’s mortality without any real hope is earth shattering.
And I admit to being overwhelmed in the first moments and hours…
But it no longer overwhelms me.
No, I do not want to walk this valley. I know that pain and suffering are looming on the horizon; I have felt it already with the surgery and the recovery. I struggle when I can’t pick up my crying 2 year old. When I couldn’t walk up the stairs to say night time prayers with my daughter. I have asked for this affliction to pass from me, that I might not have to drink this bitter cup.
But there is no fear in this valley, it is not overwhelming.
There is peace, that peace which Paul spoke of in Phillippians 4, that peace which surpasses understanding. That peace which comes from knowing that in life and death I belong to my faithful saviour Jesus Christ.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4
Now, there certainly are things which overwhelm me.
One is the love displayed by the people around me. The people in my small church who have rallied around Teresa and I. The prayers of those in the larger Church abroad. The countless prayers offered on our behalf, the countless offers of help and assistance. The visits. The messages. The emails.
I love you all, and it is overwhelming.
And then there is that which truly overwhelms me:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5
God’s holiness overwhelms me, for I am a sinner and am not worthy to stand before the throne. The longer I walk this path with the Lord before me, and the more sin is put to death in the power of the Holy Spirit, the more aware of my sin I become. Yet Jesus stands in my place in perfect holiness and says, “I paid for that. You are forgiven, loved, and cared for.” When you believe on Jesus for salvation, the weight, the burden, of sin and guilt and shame is lifted off of you, and then the yoke of Christ put upon you…but He doesn’t leave us to pull that yoke alone. He gets into that yoke with you and He pulls with you.
That is overwhelming.
I am overwhelmed as he draws me closer to him in my time of affliction. It is such a drastic change from my depression when he seemed so far away, now his nearness is intensely real. All the theological talk on my blog of trusting in the promises of God during affliction, are suddenly not a “theoretical” faith, but a tangible life experience.
I am overwhelmed by his peace.
His love for us despite us.
His undeserved grace.
He is overwhelming.
So if you are burdened with sin, with affliction, with suffering…look to Jesus. If you have not been met by Jesus, please come, taste and see that the Lord is good! Come be overwhelmed by Jesus. He alone is the all satisfying fountain. He alone can save you from your sin. He alone can give us hope, in fact he is our hope.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9
Here is a song that has been rolling around my head as I write this. Enjoy!