Christian Devotionals

"As Good as Dead"

For the past several weeks my devotionals have been about healing. More specifically, they’ve been about my firm belief that God had healed me of cancer. I was really particular about it too. Jesus healed me on March 13th at a healing service in Collinsville, Connecticut. How did I know that? I felt healed, plus I also had several words of knowledge from believers that seemed to confirm my healing. Well, my CT-scan results came back and not only wasn’t I healed, but the cancer spread extensively in both lungs and also in my liver. This was not how the game plan was supposed to play out (at least not in Joe Rieger’s playbook). My reaction to the news went from shock – to fear – to anger. “Lord, how could this be? Why did you allow me to get duped by these feelings and inaccurate confirmations? I can handle bad news – I’ve had twelve months worth of bad news – but this latest news felt like a sucker punch. Am I going to die?”

When all the emotions settled down, God did speak to me through His usual medium, His Word. Ironically God’s Word came to me during a weekly healing service at that same church in Collinsville. The pastor there had also been surprised and disappointed by the news of my bad CT-scan. After all, he, his wife and several devoted members of this church’s healing ministry had been praying in earnest for me and they truly believed that God had healed me. This pastor called me and let me know that he really took this issue to heart and immediately went to the Lord in prayer. God answered his prayer by directing him to Romans chapter 4. That evening my pastor friend taught from this passage of scripture and brought comfort to my wife and me through Abraham’s example. You see God made a promise to Abraham that he would become a father of a great nation – make that the father of many nations (the apostle Paul refers to this in Romans 4:13 as becoming “heir of the world.”). When the LORD first made that promise to Abraham – in Genesis 12 – our “heir of the world” was seventy-five years old and childless. Moreover, Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren and decades past her childbearing years. Yet as impossible as God’s promise about his descendants being more numerous than the stars in the sky all seemed, Abraham had faith in God’s promise. Abraham completely trusted in God and as we’re told throughout scripture, his faith was credited to him as righteousness. This is how Paul described the impossible predicament that Abraham found himself in (Romans 4:18-22):

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Please take some extra time to think about what’s going on in this passage. God made this incredible promise to Abraham when our potential patriarch was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:1-4). Another twenty-five years would pass before God fulfilled His promise and gave Sarah and him a son (Genesis 21:2). In today’s era of instant gratification, one cannot fathom waiting a quarter of a century to receive God’s blessing. We want it all and we want it now. Abraham, however, was “fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised” and he trusted God to keep His promise.

God also made a promise to me as many of you all know. He said that I wasn’t going to die from this cancer. Yet here it is, only one year later and I’m all indignant about a bad CT-scan and questioning God about keeping His promise. Most people wouldn’t fault me for being upset, given how far the cancer has spread and the increased probability that it may kill me. In fact I can truly relate to what Paul said about Abraham in verse 19: “he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead.” Fortunately that’s only how things appear in the natural realm. In Christ, I am operating in the supernatural realm and my God is the God of the impossible. The same God who gave Abraham and Sarah a child at age 100 can and will heal me of stage IV cancer at a time of His choosing.

We all would do well to look back to the heroes of the Bible for examples of patience during times of testing. I took great comfort from this pastor’s biblical teaching from Romans and the example of Abraham’s faith. He went on to tell us that we can’t stand on feelings (e.g. “I feel healed”) or people’s words, but we can stand on God’s Word. No matter what trial or hardship you are facing, we have a Savior in Jesus Christ who keeps His promises and has our best interests at heart. You can trust the One who loved you enough to die in your place. Stand on His Word, put your faith in Him and it will be credited to you as righteousness.

Back to List of Devotionals