Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts from the ash heap redux

I have been going through some of my old blogs today back on the Persecuted Church Weblog and I came across one from July 2006 that I thought I would like to share again with some of you who are new to my blogs:

The past four years since I was diagnosed with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) have reinforced my long-held conviction that most western Christians do not know how to handle suffering from a biblical perspective. When fellow believers have learned that I have what is essentially an incurable disease, they have tended to respond in one or more of the following ways:

1. Hyper-faith: "Healing is always God's will. So don't accept what you have and claim God's promises."
2. Faithlessness: "How tragic! How can a good God allow such a thing! You must be angry with God, eh?"
3. Quick Fix: "I had a friend who went on this special diet and the cancer went away. You should try it!"
4. Denial: "Don't worry. Be happy! After all, the Bible says to rejoice in all things!"
5. Avoidance: "Let's not talk about this. I don't know what to say."
6. Resignation: "Well, I suppose your life and usefulness is winding down. Better start planning your legacy."

Now, I recognize that there are elements of truth in all of these responses. And I try hard not to get annoyed by the "friends of Job" that invariably arrive whenever one is going through trials. But lately, I am finding that I would rather sit on the ash heap (cf. Job 2:8) by myself. At least part of me does. Part of me would still like some company, but it is hard to find those who will sit and pray and accept that suffering often involves mystery that requires faith, not sight; trust, not explanations and solutions.

I am satisfied with the knowledge that God allows nothing to come into my life that does not first pass through his sovereign Hands. I trust that He is accomplishing His purposes in and through my life in a way today that He could not do if I were perfectly healthy. Living with a keener sense of mortality is not altogether a bad thing. It tends to bring an edge to your life than is often missing otherwise. You know that you have one shot at life in which to accomplish God's purposes and so you'd better make the best of it. Could this be why many Christians who live under the shadow of persecution are making a greater impact on the world today than those of us who live in relative freedom? We live with diminished sense of urgency.
Anyway, my biggest struggle right now is not retreating to the ash heap, seeking to escape the well-intentioned. I hope that someday they will join me, though, trying to listen to the voice in the whirlwind (Job 38:1).

1 comment:

Mark Kordic said...

Your comments are spot on Glenn. May you continue to sense our Lord's nearness as you walk this path of suffering with our Lord!