In those early days, when our family was still reeling from our entry into the unknown world of childhood cancer (you can read more about those days here), my recurring prayer was that God would not allow us to dishonor His name. Scary days were ahead. But our fervent desire was that we’d bring our Lord glory at each new and fearful juncture.
How exactly, though, would we do that?
How do we, as believers, bring Him all honor and glory when unexpected suffering (in our case, cancer) arrives at our doorstep? Adversity knocks our breath from us, and no matter the form or intensity our trial takes, it always surprises in the moment and remains for a duration we can’t predict. How do we then, even when gasping through the still-breathless days, believe and speak of God’s goodness? How do we (even when our trial isn’t brought on by a life-threatening illness, but by some other sort of feared circumstance) faithfully honor God through the pain?
God’s reminder for me — and for you
As I prayed about all this, a dear friend, herself going through cancer treatment, brought me the encouragement I needed.
With tears streaming and heart aching, I read John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” and God used it to fortify my faith. As I read, He took the truth and settled my fear-filled heart. His Spirit used the words to give me peace, and reassure me, and give me direction.
I’ve often thought since that time, that even though the title sounds as if the article applies to cancer alone, the truths apply to all sorts of adversity.
Your own unique need — and God’s applicable truth
Today, are you yearning for a season of life God hasn’t yet granted? Or do you fight anxious thoughts about the season to come? Maybe you’d like to help a friend who’s suffering and confused. Or you want to be fortified with God’s truth for your own days of darkness.
Please then, read the same article I read — just click on this link. (This version actually includes expounding comments by CCEF‘s David Powlison, which have greatly helped me in subsequent readings.)
As you read, think through how to apply the pivotal points to your own situation. Read to right your thinking about adversity and God’s good plan for you, whatever your current pain or fear. Read to have your mind transformed so that you might be fortified to give God glory even if your darkness doesn’t soon lift.
In other words, don’t waste your pain.
Whether cancer or other trials …
Read and ask God to show you how, in your particular pain, you are meant to bring Him glory. Ask Him to show you how to share your adversity with others in ways that point your listeners, not only to a “me too!” commiseration with your sorrow, but to Him and His love and His good purpose in all.
For whether dealing with cancer, or a beloved child diagnosed with autism, or unwanted singleness, or unexpected infertility, or chronic depression, you are not where you are by accident. Your pain has a purpose.
“There are reasons for why we end up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up … This will be your opportunity to bear witness.’ (Luke 21:12-13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that He is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.”
Read and be fortified. That you might not waste your pain.