I have a dear friend who is suffering from cancer and the radical effects of the chemotherapy that she is taking to kill the cancer. I have listened to her describe the effects of the chemo and how it has devastated her body, even while it's being used to overcome the disease that could take her life.
As someone who has never gone through what she is enduring, it has shocked me to hear her describe the effects of her treatment on her body and how drastically it has changed her life from day to day.
As I have prayed for her, searching for how to pray, what to say, how to comfort her, how to minister to her, I have felt the reality that so much of this is beyond our ability to deal with on a human level. I cannot take away the pain or relieve the suffering or wave a magic wand to make this disease go away. Well intentioned christian platitudes that do not acknowledge this reality are not helpful. I ask myself, as believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that all we have? Or does the Gospel make a difference when we are going through a trial that saps every ounce of our energy and leaves us clinging to life by a thread? It has to be the hope of the Gospel that tells us, no matter what we are going through, Jesus Christ is in the room. He has not abandoned us to endure this devastation all alone. He has a tight, tight grip on us. He will not let us go.
It is the beauty of a Savior that loves us enough to enter into our pain with us that quickens my heart. This is not a Savior who does not know our pain, our suffering. A God who does not care. He comes right into the sick room, sits down on the bed, and takes us by the hand. He does not stand afar off. He has not forgotten us. He sees our pain, he understands our grief and our confusion. 'Lord what is happening to me? My body isn't my own anymore. It has betrayed me. I don't even recognize myself anymore. I can't handle the pain... Please help me, I'm falling – I'm frightened – this is not what I want...' He hears you, He sees you, He cares more deeply than your closest friend or loved one. I believe He feels every pain with you, cries with you, fights for you, and intercedes for you at the Throne of the Father.
Jesus is holding onto you, my dear friend. He has His arms around you, even if you cannot feel them. He is whispering encouragement and singing a love song over you. He is saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you. You are more precious to Me than you can possibly know. For you, I went to the cross. For you, I have purchased an eternity that is free of suffering and full of joy. Hold onto Me, my child. Don't try to figure it out. Don't try to master it. Just know that you are not defined by this cancer. You are defined by My love for you. You are not just someone with cancer. You are so much more than that to Me. You are My daughter. I have sought you, I have purchased you with My blood, and you belong to Me. I put My love on you, My child. And I haven't taken it away, even in the midst of this dark trial. I delight in you. I know this is impossibly difficult for you. It's OK to admit that. I never intended that you should suffer this all alone. Do not be deceived by the fiery trial you are going through. I am right here. I am with you. Lean into Me right now. You don't have to be strong. I have you covered. I am the One Who Comforts you, strengthens you, holds you in My arms when you are too weak to stand. I Am with you. I will never leave you. I still recognize you...You are mine. I love you. More than you can know.”
Scripture Reference: Isaiah 53:4 NKJV
“Surely, He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows...”