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From my Hospital Bed in Nashville

Posted on February 4, 2010

I write this from my hospital bed in Nashville just prior to high dose chemotherapy treatment for my second go-around with tumors in the brain (my third battle with cancer)

I want to nail down seven beautiful truths that I've known for years but now are even more part of my core-being as a result of my cancer battles.

As someone once said, everything learned is from pain.  God's purposes and presence are revealed through suffering although they may seem hidden at the time. 

These truths are things I've learned from suffering. They apply only to a true child of God - the one who has set aside his personal ambitions in order to follow Jesus into a new and different life:

1)  Suffering should be viewed as a gift, not as a curse. This is quite hard to do when you're in right in the middle of the pain.  But through the suffering, he brings us into a deeper relationship with Him.  Then we're increasingly filled to the measure of all the fullness of Him (Ephesians 3:19)

2)   Suffering knocks the props from beneath us so that have no choice but to stake our all on Him.

3)  Suffering enables us to realize that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21); that to live is to please Him, to die is to be with Him, that either in life or death, we belong to Him.

4)   Suffering heightens our desire to move out into better relationships with others.  You see the value of others more than you once did.  Even as you're personally hurting and weak, you paradoxically desire to bless and encourage others.         

5)      Suffering is embraced for the joy set before us, just as Jesus willingly chose the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.

6)      Suffering weans me more from specific sin issues.  You find myself loving your Savior more than you do your sin.

7)      Suffering brings revelation than we'd have never received had we never gone through this.  It reveals deep things through this season of adversity.  So, I pray, as Job did, "Teach me what I cannot see." (Job 34:32)

Later this day, I'll begin high dose chemo.  Knowing the suffering to come, when I first arrived in my room, my soul was without courage.  So, on my knees, with my elbows on the bed, and my head in my hands, I cried out to God for His grace, to give me something extra to get me through.  I recalled how the loud cries and tears of Jesus, and his submission, and taught him obedience from suffering he endured (Hebrews 5:7-8).
Although God still does instant miraculous healings in our own day, he also seemingly allows circumstances we wish he wouldn't. That's when we have to trust him no matter what is happening, knowing that he always brings beautiful things from the darkness.

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