|"The Gospel is able to take us all the way home..."|
Allister Begg, Truth for Life Ministries
This week has been like riding the waves of a tsunami, as I have tried to absorb the news that one of my brothers has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He is four years younger than I am and has had a difficult life. He is scheduled for surgery to remove a growth from his lung in October. He was scheduled this week but cancelled it out of fear that he would not make it through the surgery. My heart goes out to him, but he must have the surgery if he is to have any chance at all of beating this.
In my brother's case, he was in denial pretty heavily when he called me to tell me he has cancer. He spent most of the hour long conversation joking about inconsequential things, while avoiding the matter that was most on his mind. I had no idea what he was dealing with. At the very end of our conversation, just before we hung up the phone, I "happened" to ask him what I thought was an innocent question about his health. He answered instantly with the blunt statement "I have lung cancer." I had to ask him to repeat what he said, to be able to absorb the shock of what he had just told me. He said it a second time and then waited for my response.
There are some moments like this that take us beyond our ability to express in words what we are feeling. Without prompting, completely unbidden, a rush of memories flooded my heart of my brother as a little boy; as a handsome young man at his wedding; later, watching him holding his new born babies in his arms...
Of course, not all of my memories are happy ones. My brother has had more than his share of heartache in his life from the very beginning. In many ways, he has never healed from some of the most painful experiences he has gone through. Remembering those moments makes me cry with him for things that happened that never should have... I remember it all... And I close my eyes and wish it wasn't so.
There is an old saying "If wishes were horses, beggars would fly..." But we don't live in a world of fairy-tales and castles, and beggars that fly. We live in a real world that hurts us and fails us sometimes, worse than we want to admit.
What are we to do when the heartache overcomes us? When we wish it were different, and know it is not? I am convinced that it is at these times that the Gospel of Jesus Christ matters most. When we can't fix life, explain it away, or stand the pain that we are carrying, we need the Gospel. We need to know this just isn't all there is. We need to know there is a God who sees us and understands the depth of our pain. We need to know that He is able to carry us all the way home.
I am in the middle of one of those times with my brother. I do not know if he will make it through the surgery in October. He has a myriad of health problems that have weakened him even before this diagnosis. I would be a liar if I said I am not afraid for him. I am. Right now, in the midst of my anguish for my brother, I am doing the only thing I can do for him - I am carrying him to the Lord who has a hold of him when I do not. I stand at the foot of the cross and claim the saving grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for my brother.
I heard a teaching recently by one of my favorite preachers, Allister Begg, of Truth for Life. I don't remember a lot of what he said, but I remember these words. "The Gospel brings us all the way home. Do not fear and tremble in the face of death if you know Jesus Christ. For there is not one bit of you that will end up in the trash bin of the universe except your sin." I love that. And tonight, I find great comfort in the truth of those words.
My prayers are with those of you who are going through something in your own life that has rocked you to the core. And, if you would, lift up a prayer for my brother. That God will be with my brother through the surgery and through all of his tomorrows.
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Romans 8:38.39 NKJV