A couple weeks ago, my friend received the worst news you could expect to hear. Cancer. It's almost equivalent to a swear word because it produces all the worst feelings inside...fear, anxiety, doubt, despair. We all sat together at church on Sunday and cried through a sermon that talked about God's goodness and sovereignty. And two nights later, I sat next to my friend under twinkling lights on another friend's back porch with our Gospel Community. We sang these words:
You are good.
It didn't make sense for us to sing those words, but at the same time, it made all the sense in the world. When our world crashes down around us, and even when our world seems perfect, all we can do is cling to Jesus and remind each other of His great and precious promises.
This month is also the one year anniversary of losing my friend Pam to cancer. It feels like it all happened ten years ago, but sometimes it hits me just how much I miss her and it feels like it happened yesterday. Cancer has me asking questions. God, I know that nothing is beyond Your control, so why are you allowing this to happen? Why didn't you heal Pam? Why haven't you delivered my friend battling cancer right now? Why do all these bad things keep happening and why do You feel disconnected from it all?
Then I stop...because when I ask these questions, ultimately I am asking, God, are you really trustworthy? Are You really who You say You are? Are You really I Am? And while He may feel distant, the truth is that He is always near. He never forgets about us. Nothing is a surprise to Him. He is trustworthy, even in the middle of death and destruction. As my friend Randi reminded us on her back porch last week, He isn't a giver of death, He's a giver of abundant life.
Beauty from ashes.
Triumph from tragedy.
Life from death.
That is God's sovereignty right there. In the midst of the unknown, there is hope in knowing that God sees it all. He designs everything intricately. He is good even if cancer takes my friends. He is good because that is who He is. And I will declare that over and over because unlike my circumstances, God never changes. He is steadfast and that means He is ALWAYS good.
God doesn't promise to write us Happily Ever Afters, but He has already written Eternal Life into the story of those who trust in Him. Our stories won't end, regardless of what happens to our bodies. Bodies are just shells. But there is great joy ahead! It is far greater than anything we can imagine! So has the band Sanctus Real sings, "Just hold on to the promises."
"So we do not lose heart! Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18