Have you ever watched a fellow Christ Follower go through something painful or difficult? Did you observe them handling it with such peace and joy that you were unable to truly comprehend how that was even possible? Did you think to yourself, “If that were me, I’m not sure I would be able to deal with it with as much grace as they are”? Maybe you pondered your own spirituality and the “real-ness” of your own faith.
This is me right now.
Can I just be open and honest with you? (If you keep reading then I guess the answer is yes!”) Right now, today, at this moment, I have 2 dear friends that are experiencing a fresh diagnosis of cancer. Two women that I love deeply and have known for an awfully long time. Two women whose faith is the real deal.
And they inspire me.
These women have spent their entire adult lives loving Jesus, pursuing a relationship with Him, and deepening their faith in His power and love.
While nothing can truly prepare the human heart for a difficult health diagnosis, there are steps that we can, and should be taking consistently now, to draw close to Him. Steps that will be of significant value should we be faced with something similar. Steps that will help us to prevent a complete crisis of faith.
Let’s consider Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Here we see a parable (or story with a lesson) from Jesus. This is the parable of a man who chose wisely, to build his “house”, or life, on a firm foundation. He did not choose mere “sand” that would wash away when the rains came, he chose rock, strong and sure. The idea here is that as we live out the time that God has given us on this earth, we are free to build our life on whatever foundation we choose.
If we want, we can choose to build our lives on the foundation of worldly things. Money, prestige, self-importance, or even comfort and ease. God gives us free will, we have that choice. But scripture tells us that “the wise man” chooses a firm foundation. Spiritually speaking, he chooses a life of serving others, putting God first in decisions to honor Him, trusting God even when life gets hard, and living with generosity. We do this by spending time in His word. By seeking His will. By having relationships that build us up and point us to Jesus. The implied Rock from the parable is Jesus, our rock and our redeemer.
All through scripture we see times of guidance where God tells us that “life will get hard”. Storms in life come to everyone, inside the faith and those outside as well. They WILL come. That is one thing we can be certain of. But will we be prepared?
The two women that I am loving on and praying for right now, have done just that. They have developed a pattern of deep and abiding faith. They have intentionally placed their trust in the Lord in times where life has shown them no kindness. This is not the first time that they have encountered extreme difficulty. But it IS the first time that they have had cancer.
And you know what? They are responding the same exact way to this trial, with faith and trust.
How does someone who has gotten a cancer diagnosis and pondered the thought that their time here on earth with those they love could possibly end (in a time frame that is too soon) and yet, stay faithful? How do they avoid becoming despondent and bitter toward God for allowing them to have cancer? How do they continue each day with joy and faith? It is because they built their house on The Rock.
Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” NLT
God promises to comfort us in our troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4a says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” Did you catch it? He comforts us IN OUR TROUBLES. He doesn’t shield us FROM them. He promises to comfort, or strengthen, us while they are ongoing. Don’t think that if you “do everything right”, that somehow you will escape difficulties. Jesus himself was perfect, and He had more heart ache and suffering than you and I ever will.
But God says that He will be with us, walking along side us for the journey, enduring the hurt with us and helping us to find purpose in the pain.
This is what I am seeing with my two friends. They did not wait until the storm came to find shelter in the Rock. They built up that foundation in advance, in preparation for a storm they didn’t see coming.
What I see are two women who have been faithfully pursuing Him and have let Him lead and use them for many years already. What I am seeing is a continuation of their faith, not a drastic shift out of desperation. More of a natural readjustment into what is next. A soft curve, not a sharp turn.
They have purposefully built their lives on a foundation of faith. This faith is real, and it runs deep. And in that way, they have prepared spiritually for what they are facing right now. When you and I consistently spend time with the Lord, by reading His word, learning from it and applying it to our lives, then we allow His presence to guide us through life. That’s how we build and grow a faith that will withstand any storm. We are preparing in advance for what may come.
Friends, we WILL face trials. We WILL have difficulties in many areas of life. We WILL, sooner or later, call out to God for mercy and grace. And He WILL respond.
But if we are to enjoy peace and trust and love the way my two friends are, that relationship needs to strengthen and grow now.
Stop putting it off.
Stop being “too busy”.
Don’t let your life fall apart.
Don’t let your “house” be destroyed by storms .
Let’s build our house on The Rock.
Image by Oleg Mityukhin from Pixabay