Consider It All Joy-Update

Proverbs 2:6
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
NASB

In my last post found here, I was waiting for the results of medical tests. The results are in.  I have Hodgkins Disease, a type of lymphoma. That would explain why my immune system was down and my platelets were low. That would explain many other symptoms I experienced before that I thought were related to a busy schedule and a lack of sleep. It is all starting to make more sense now.

If this were a typical good news/bad news presentation, what preceded would be the bad news. What is unique to this story is that the good news is the same. I have Hodgkins Disease a type of lymphoma. Medically and statistically speaking if someone is to have a type of lymphoma, Hodgkins is the one to have.  It has the highest (80%-90%) cure rate.  Over and over again my doctors and nurses have told me how fortunate I am to have this particular type of lymphoma. With 6 months of chemotherapy I should have a full recovery.  With that being said, there are some observations I would like to make.

I must confess, that I was very relieved to hear that I have Hodgkins. My wife and I knew that I was being tested for lymphoma, so my wife researched everything about it. She discovered, as the doctor later confirmed, Hodgkins was the type with the best cure rate. Those conclusions are based purely on statistics gathered from people diagnosed and treated with conventional treatments.  Those treatments were discovered and developed by medical science. 

That leads to the question, “What is the origin of man’s wisdom?” We get over confident, even cocky, about the advances in medical science, technology, education, etc.  If we can, through “our” understanding, explain a process or determine a course of action, we quickly remove God from His throne and place ourselves there. We are quick to relinquish control to God when the situation seems hopeless and beyond our capability to change.  But when we think we know what to do, we take over and relegate God to blessing our plans.

We soon forget that it all comes from the Lord. There is nothing that we have that has not been provided by the Lord; even wisdom and intellect. Everything was created by Him and is provided to us according to His purpose, not ours.  Although I was relieved to hear the diagnosis, I was quickly reminded that I am just as dependent on the Lord as I was before.  He hasn’t changed nor has my reliance on Him. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for me. I had no guarantee six months ago when I thought I was healthy. Every day is a gift from God. He sustains me moment to moment.  Whatever His will is for me, I trust in Him alone. Forever I will be grateful. 

Consider It All Joy

James 1:2-4 2
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.   
NASB

The above passage of scripture is one that I often reference. I usually shorten it to “when you encounter various trials”. I do that to remind myself that as Christians, we will experience trails.  That is why the verse says “when” not “if”. 

The part of the verse that I always skipped over was “consider it all joy”. I certainly believed that we could have joy in the midst of our trials. But I suppose I equated it to having the right attitude about the situation. It never occurred to me that true joy could be experienced when facing trials.  That all changed for me on December 11, 2006.

That Monday after work, I drove myself to the emergency room with a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop.  It was quickly determined that my platelets were low-6,000 (compared to 140,000-400,000 for normal people).  Platelets are responsible for blood clotting when there is a cut.  Without them, you bleed to death. Between December 11th and January 7th I was in the hospital for three weeks.  I was in two weeks the first time and after one week at home, I returned to the hospital for another week.

During my time in the hospital I had my spleen removed, a lymph node removed and my bone marrow extracted for testing.  As I sit writing now, I am waiting for the results of the tests.  The indications are that I have lymphoma. The tests are to determine what type, how far it has advanced, and what the treatment should be. I think this qualifies as a trial. But the real story is that the Lord has been working in all of this. 

First, my family is part of a wonderful church family.  I had no idea how wonderful until this all happened.  I was visited many, many times and have been prayed for constantly.  I receive cards, phone calls, and words of encouragement. The ladies of the church provided meals for my wife and daughter at the hospital when they were visiting. Special prayer times were established just to pray for my family and me.

Secondly, family and friends I suspect are not believers have told me they would pray for me. I am excited because this situation swings the door wide open to share the gospel with them. The Lord is preparing hearts and providing opportunities.

I also received very good care at the hospital.  I believe the Lord directed very specific nurses and doctors to care for me.  Each of them showed a special interest in my case. Through that, I developed some friendships that I hope to continue outside of the hospital setting.

I share these things not to boast about the attention I have received. I share these things to boast about the Sovereign Lord. I boast about His mercy and His majesty. I boast about His love for His adopted children and how He works through them to bless others. I boast that the Lord is patient not wanting anyone to perish.

As you may suspect, I am experiencing joy.  I never understood it before like I do now.  Just knowing that the Lord is at work in this situation is giving me peace and joy. It also gives me a sense of anticipation of what is yet to come.  As I mentioned before, I am still waiting on the final results of the tests. But whatever the future holds, the Lord is with me. I just pray that I remain faithful as He works His will through me. 

I wanted to end this with Psalm 148.  I have been reading it these past few weeks.  It has been a source of encouragement and focus.  May you be blessed by it also.

All for His glory!

Shane


Psalm 148 

1 Praise the LORD!
         Praise the LORD from the heavens;
         Praise Him in the heights!
    2 Praise Him, all His angels;
         Praise Him, all His hosts!
    3 Praise Him, sun and moon;
         Praise Him, all stars of light!
    4 Praise Him, highest heavens,
         And the waters that are above the heavens!
    5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
         For He commanded and they were created.
    6 He has also established them forever and ever;
         He has made a decree which will not pass away.
    7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
         Sea monsters and all deeps;
    8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
         Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
    9 Mountains and all hills;
         Fruit trees and all cedars;
    10 Beasts and all cattle;
         Creeping things and winged fowl;
    11 Kings of the earth and all peoples;
         Princes and all judges of the earth;
    12 Both young men and virgins;
         Old men and children.
    13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
         For His name alone is exalted;
         His glory is above earth and heaven.
    14 And He has lifted up a horn for His people,
         Praise for all His godly ones;
         Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him.          
        
Praise the LORD!    NASB


You Owe Me

Romans 4:2-5 
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 
3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
   NASB

I had opportunity recently to teach about salvation to our church as part of our 8 week study of the basics of Christianity. In my preparation, I read the above passage. I know that I have read it many times before but this time the words “what is due” stopped me.

Every religion, other than Christianity, has a stated system of works that when performed results in eternal life. As biblical Christians we must acknowledge the error found in those beliefs.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    NASB

What stopped me at “what is due” is the thought that the belief of working for salvation is an arrogant belief.  It is not just erroneous. It is a denial of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.  It is a judgment of God’s grace and deciding that man needs to add to it for it to be enough.

I am assuming that at one time or another we have all worked for someone.  At the end of the pay period we would receive compensation for the work we performed. We felt that we were due that pay because of the work we did.  It was owed to us. In light of the verse above I have a picture of someone coming to God at the judgment saying, “You owe me, God!”  I shudder to think anyone would dare be so bold.  But that is what those that deny God’s grace and strive to earn salvation are doing. They are boldly declaring that their works are worth more than the atonement of Christ.  Truly the Lord is patient.
2 Peter 3:9