Pastor Steve Marquez: Encouragement in the Lord
Pastor Steve Marquez: Encouragement in the Lord

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Pastor Steve Marquez—a Calvary Chapel Pastor: Encouraging Myself… in the Lord

Devotional by Pastor Steve Marquez

Pastor Steve MarquezPeople who have been given the devastating news of their having a terminal illness are said to be in the “Stage 4” of life. Stage4 Ministries desires to serve them and their caregivers. The ministry is run by Steve and Monica Marquez. Steve, formerly pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Smith, AR, is a Stage 4 cancer patient fighting Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), better known as kidney cancer. Steve and Monica are available to speak at churches or other groups to encourage people that they can have hope in this world and—through Christ—hope for the next. Visit www.stage4ministries.com for more information.

There is a precious peace that comes from the fellowship between brothers and sisters in Christ. Without it, the existence of the believer would not only be eclipsed by loneliness, but its absence can give birth to discouragement and weakness. Obviously, it is not good for a man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and it is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). But there are those situations where only One can help—the Lord.

I had just come home after spending five weeks in the hospital and another week in a physical rehab hospital. I’d had three massive surgeries and I remember feeling happy I was home but, at the same time, sad at my situation. It was a dark time. I was discouraged. People would come over to pray with and try to encourage me but, I must admit, it didn’t help that much. A lot of the time, I just wanted to get in bed, crawl up into a ball, pull the covers over my head, and cry. Which I did—a lot. My wife was a great source of help and encouragement, but she could not penetrate the deep, dark abyss I was sinking further and further into. I had to work it out between me and my Savior.

Somewhere along the line we have been taught that to mourn and cry is somehow a sin. If that was the case, then the entire Book of Psalms would not have been written! David said, I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping (Psalm 6:6, ESV).

That described me in every way. My enemy was the stress I went through, the medicines I was on, the dark despair I was feeling. I was past running; indeed, I was hiding in a bunker waiting for it to kill me.

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6, ESV

There were times, few and fleeting, that I contemplated leaving this world at my own hand—Why am I still here? I did what David did. I was mourning my old life: the ability to run, ride a motorcycle, ride bikes, and other fun stuff. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to go back to teaching Bible studies at church. My world had been stolen by an enemy that had swooped in and taken it captive. As David mourned in 1 Samuel 30 for his family and property, not knowing if they would ever be restored, he could hear the men begin to talk of executing him because they were in so much pain from their own losses. An enemy had come in and taken the women and children captive, along with their property, while the men were away.

Terminally ill patients, whose lives have been turned upside down, do need a certain amount of mourning. They must be allowed their time to mourn or they will never be able to deal with their pain. In stressful situations, we tend to run. David did this earlier in his life, and his current loss was the result. He couldn’t do that again, so he strengthened himself in the Lord. The word strengthened means *taking courage. David was getting ready to fight. The KJV translates it as encouraged.

When we are discouraged, we are weak and deflated. In this situation, I did what David did. I was not content with my condition anymore, but I wasn’t able to find my own way out, so I encouraged myself in the Lord. He was the only person who could, with all certainty, understand what I was going through—who had the power to carry me through it.

It is good for brothers to dwell together and encourage one another, but there are those times when you just need to encourage yourself … in the Lord.

Practical Advice to Hurting Patients:

• I read books that were encouraging to me.
• I prayed—A LOT. Constantly talking to God was a well of refreshment and strength. (Ephesians 6:18-19; 2 Corinthians 1:11)
• I began to believe that God was on my side and that I would rise up out of that bed and resume some of my former life, which I did. (Psalm 118:6-7; Isaiah 43:2)
• I laughed. My wife and I would watch funny television shows that would make us laugh before we went to bed each night. (Proverbs 17:22)

stage4ministries.com

*A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (CHAL)

 

All verses above are quoted from the English Standard Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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