Verse of the Day: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Some of you have been in this place before. I don’t necessarily mean cancer. I mean you have been in a place of intense hardship –whether it was losing a job, battling an illness or grieving for a loved one. Through this hardship you reached out to Christ and found His hand to cling to through all the pain and loss.
Once I thought that my faith in Christ would shield me from excessive hardship. It was like I thought I had a hall pass from the Lord.
Remember High School? Regardless of how prepared, organized or responsible you might have been, you had times you needed a hall pass. What do you do when you need to get a book from your locker or need to email that English paper to the teacher before the end of school? You go to the teacher that likes you best. You figure because they like you so much they’ll give you a hall pass. All you really want is to get done what you need to get done without any hassles or problems.
There was a time when I felt that Jesus had given me a hall pass through life. I couldn’t imagine Jesus letting me run into any serious hassles or problems. This belief ended one day when I was sharing some of my struggles with my Bible study leader. I commented, “But it’ll be OK, God won’t give me more than I can handle.” And do you know what she said? “That’s not the way the verse goes, Karen. The Lord won’t give you more temptation than you can handle. The verse doesn’t say anything about struggles.” The verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13 and it goes like this: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Although that’s great news about temptation, my Bible study teacher was right. It doesn’t say anything about struggles. Sometimes life brings the unbearable.
The unbearable could be losing a child or experiencing uncontrollable pain or even helplessly watching someone you love in pain. There are definitely things that make you think “God, I can’t take it anymore.” So where did I get this idea that Jesus would give me a pass on any unbearable struggle? It wasn’t because I felt privileged. It was because I felt loved. It was because of my deep and profound belief in how much Jesus loved me. Like that favorite teacher who I knew would give me a hall pass, I couldn’t imagine Jesus letting me face the unbearable. But He does.
Maybe facing the possibility of the unbearable builds faith. After all, how much faith do you need to follow Jesus if you believe you’ll never face the unbearable? Not much. Real faith comes from yearning to do God’s will even if that road is tough, even if that road is unbearable.
But here is the important thing: Jesus doesn’t want to be the teacher who gives you a hall pass and sends you on your way. He wants to be the One who places His arm around you and His shield before you and escorts you through the perils of this life. You see, the teacher with the hall pass lets you leave without him, but not Jesus. Once you’ve walked through the unbearable, grasping Jesus’ arm and clinging to His every step, you know it’s better to have Christ firmly planted at your side. Faith is not believing you’re protected from the unbearable, but knowing if the unbearable comes, Jesus will bear it with you.
- Have you heard someone say, “God will not give you more than you can handle?” What do you think about that phrase now, knowing the verse is not about struggles but it is about temptations?
When it comes to walking with Jesus through the struggles of cancer, perhaps no one understood it better than Irene.
“Twenty–two years of dealing with cancer and I feel very blessed to be here. When I was diagnosed at 39, I never thought I’d be here this long. Then some days I think ‘How did I get here so fast?’
With cancer, some people turn toward God and some turn away. For me, the worse things got, the more I understood that the struggles were a request from God to trust Him, to lean on Him. It was as though God said, ‘Surrender your trust to Me. I have a plan.’” – Irene, Breast Cancer Survivor (Excerpt from God is Bigger Than Your Cancer)1
- What do you think Irene meant when she said “the struggles were a request from God to trust Him.”
- How do you surrender your cancer struggles to God?
There’s that word “surrender”. I think it would be hard for us to go through a whole week of looking at how God is in control of your cancer and not use the word surrender. There is something so sweet about surrendering your need to be in control of things to the only One who can control them. For people like me who love to feel in control, this surrendering may be a repetitive thing. Monthly? Weekly? Daily? More? But accepting the things you cannot change, even the unbearable things, and surrendering them to Christ is truly a walk of faith.
Look at today’s verse:
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Write a prayer to God telling Him what this promise means to you.
1. Tripp, Karen. God is Bigger Than Your Cancer: Christian Insights for Cancer Patients. Grover, MO: Fresh Water Press, 2008. 83. Print.