Christian Devotionals

“Hope - A Message that Cannot be Denied” (Part II)

Two days later when they found the tumor, I didn’t panic – of course the colonoscopy drugs that I was on had a lot to do with that – but when they wore off, I had that same peace. God was with me and He promised that I wasn’t going to die from this. I’ll skip all the details about the tests and doctors appointments that followed, but basically everyone assured me that this is fairly common. “You’re young, you’re strong, we’ll shrink it with radiation, cut it out and you’ll be fine. The proverbial piece of cake. But the next day, God spoke to me again through His Word and again through the Book of Judges. It was in the account of Gideon - whom God used to defeat a vastly superior army of Midianites – that God forewarned me that it wasn’t going to be “a piece of cake.” My situation was going to get worse … a lot worse. You see God purposely winnowed down Gideon’s army until the odds were stacked 450 to 1 against him. This was done in order to let everyone know that it was God and God alone who had defeated the Midianites. Now, this same God was also going to show everyone around me – doctors, nurses, family and friends – that it was Him and Him alone who healed me. Through all of this, lives would be touched, hearts would be changed and God would be glorified.

Well God was right again, duh! After further tests and biopsies, we soon discovered that the cancer had spread to my liver and to both lungs. Now the doctors weren’t so confident about my chances. This was going to be anything but a piece of cake. We started hearing things like, “With advances in chemotherapy, we may be able to extend your life for several more years.” Sure this news was hard to hear, just imagine being my wife Karen. But once again, God had prepared me for the bad news and had reassured me that I wasn’t going to die. He has been with me every step of the way.

With all of that said, I wish that I could tell you that I’ve always been brave and 100% confident in God’s promise to me. Hardly, I’m prone to discouragement like everybody else. It was during those difficult week’s after surgery, when discouragement really started to settle in. The enemy – that would be the enemy of our souls – put negative thoughts into my head. “You’re going to die. Everyone you know who’s had cancer –even Christians who were a lot better than you – died. God didn’t spare them, why should He spare you? I started to be overwhelmed with fear. What if the devil was right? What if I misunderstood God about that whole Gideon thing? Instinctively I went to my Bible verse booklet – the one with all my special memory verses – and this is where my marker for that day was: Numbers 23:19.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Wow, that verse stopped those negative thoughts in their tracks. My Savior did not forsake me – true to His promise – He’s always with me and He will not allow this insidious disease to kill me. Of course His promise didn’t mean that it was going to be smooth sailing during this journey. I’ve endured seven months of aggressive chemotherapy and experienced all the fun that goes along with being infused with toxic chemicals. And just when we thought that we had the cancer on the ropes, it came back with a vengeance. The latest CT-scan revealed that it’s now spreading in my liver and throughout both lungs. My first reaction was a typical one. “Lord what are You doing?” You see I had firmly believed that He had healed me during my break from chemo. In Joe Rieger’s playbook, I was healed and ready to go out on the speaking circuit to share how He cured me. When the bad news came, I was shocked, frightened, confused and angry. That was until God spoke to me again. This time through a pastor friend and then again through another pastor’s wife. Neither person knew each other, but both told me that God had spoken to them about my situation through the story of Abraham. This was no coincidence, this was a God-incidence. In a nutshell, God promised childless Abraham a son from barren Sarah. Not only a son, but that Abraham would be the father of many nations. Abraham was 75 when God made that promise and Sarah was no spring chicken herself. But the LORD made Abraham wait another 25 years before He delivered on that promise. 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, Romans 4 tells us, was “fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He promised” and he trusted God to keep His promise. The moral of the story: During periods of adversity – when things aren’t making sense – we need to trust God and not rely on our feelings. We need patience, faith and hope. This is not going to be about my timetable, nor is it going to play out like I want or expect it to. Be assured that His plan is best and He is a God who can be trusted. I am standing on His Word and His promises. The same God who gave Abraham a child at age 100 can and will heal me of stage IV cancer - at a time of His choosing. And this same God is here for all of you as well. He wants your heart and for you to trust in Him. He is the ultimate source of hope, a hope that never disappoints. As an encouragement to you, I’ll close with a prayer and blessing from Romans chapter 15:

13I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (New Living Translation)

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