Glory After the Thistles & Thorns

When we or our loved ones go through times of suffering, this single question plagues our minds and hearts:

W  h  y  ?

When I am consulted on patients with a new diagnosis of stage four cancer, the patients and their families are completely shocked. No one thought the belly fullness that started three months ago would turn out to be pancreatic cancer. No one expected the chronic back pain to be an aggressive malignancy. It takes time to even process the gravity of the diagnosis. It breaks my heart in situations when I have to divulge the horrific news that their cancer is medically incurable from the get-go. This is followed by a torrent of questions that I usually don’t have the answers to:

“How long do I have to live?”
“What caused this?”
“Why is God allowing this to happen?”

To be honest with you, I have been struggling with these questions in my own life. My aunt has brain cancer and it has greatly impacted her and our family. In the last six months, I have watched this once vibrant and active woman become so debilitated by her disease that she is now immobile and nearly completely mute. As we watch on the sidelines and try to support our loved one, we have cried more tears as a family and as a church than we have in a long time. Even as we place our trust and hope in the Lord, I think it is safe to say that many of us including myself question God:

Why her? Why our family? Why our church?

When Job was going through the most difficult season of his life, he questioned where God’s presence was, but he still trusted God was at work in his life.

Behold, I go forward, but He is not there,
    and backward, but I do not perceive Him;
 on the left hand when He is working, I do not behold Him;
    He turns to the right hand, but I do not see Him.
 But He knows the way that I take;
    when He has tried me, I shall come out as GOLD. | Job 23:8-10

Job had no clue why God allowed all of those horrible things to happen in his life. Even though he didn’t understand, he still held onto the fact that his suffering was meant for a greater good for the glory of God!

When you look at the New Testament, this is mentioned multiple times in almost the same way.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. | Romans 8:18

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; | 2 Corinthians 4:17

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: | 1 Peter 1:7

Over and over again, the God’s Word says that suffering is meant to be a preparation for us. He is working on us in such a way that we come out of the situation greater than refined gold that will never fade or deteriorate. Is that process painful? Oh yes. Will you enjoy it? Most probably not. However, the end product is something glorious that we cannot fully fathom on this side of heaven.

So I leave you (and myself) to chew on this: Even though it sometimes feels that God is not there, He IS carrying you through the fire! When you feel like you’re suffocating from the pain and the void of the unknown,

trust that God has a plan in place.

Trust that He loves YOU more than anyone else!
Believe that He loves YOUR LOVED ONE more than anyone else – including you.
Cling to the promise that the suffering will be brief in light of the eternal glory to come!

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