When the diagnosis comes

Over the last few days, two of my best friends have been diagnosed with cancer.hospital sign

At the same time, I have been mulling over some verses in II Chronicles 16, which tell the story of king Asa, king of Judah. Asa started well, introducing reforms and displaying faith and courage when the Cushites attacked. But then when Israel attacked, Asa strips the temple and his own palace of wealth and sends it to Ben-Hadad, ruler of Aram, in a bid to get his support against Israel. At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” II Chronicles 16:7-9. Asa doesn’t end well: he becomes angry, begins to brutalize the people, contracts a wretched disease, seeks the help of doctors but not of the Lord, and dies two years later, embittered and enraged.

These verses made me think of some verses in the New Testament: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” II Corinthians 1:8-10.

While I have been mulling these verses over in my mind, in the exact same time period these two very close friends have both been diagnosed with cancer. Both women are Christians; both have been shocked by the diagnosis; both have fears for the future; but here is what they say.

One friend says: “There is a great deal that we don’t know—about my diagnosis, the actual treatment, and prognosis.  We do know that God is with us and will see us through till the end.  We are putting our trust in Him…. I know that I am deep in the valley right now, but my eyes are on the hills and I know where my help comes from! I am still surrounded by God’s peace, and we continue to trust Him for the outcome”.

The other friend says: “We are feeling amazingly accepting and peaceful and supported by prayers of others and by the Lord, and so I am praying that he will use this time and these circumstances for his glory. Watch this space!”

What gives these two friends the ability to trust God at this crucial moment in their lives? They don’t know the future, they are facing treatment with cruel side effects and no guarantees of a good outcome. But they do know that God is with them and they have decided to trust Him, to rely on Him. It is a choice – ” We are putting our trust in Him”. It is a conscious decision, in the midst of the uncertainty and worry and fear to rely on God and what they know of Him.

When the diagnosis comes, or the financial downturn comes, or some other bad news hits, who or what will I rely on?

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him”.

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2 thoughts on “When the diagnosis comes

  1. All off us live with the certain knowledge of our death. Most of us Christians have heard of the great physician’s prescription. The only question is how do we live in relation to God and others in light of these facts? The responses of your friends remind us to pay attention to the essential. I recently remarried, and my wife has a terminal condition. Daily meditation on the transient nature of Life:
    Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
    You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
    Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.
    Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.
    But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
    Psalm 39:4-7

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