Devotional by Pastor Steve Marquez
People 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 through Jesus Christ they can have hope in this world, and the next. Visit www.stage4ministries.com for more information.
One of the things I never did during this cancer battle, especially in the beginning, was ask why I had cancer. Why is a dangerous question. There are so many avenues for the enemy to traverse in the Why. Is God mad at me? Did I do something that caused this evil disease to attack my body and even spread? Am I the worse sinner that ever existed? Is that Why?
But the question I did ask over and over is, Lord, will You heal me now!? I wanted God to swoop down in my pain and agony and stop it immediately. I wanted relief like the stories of healing I read in the Scriptures. I wanted to be like the man who was blind, but now could see (John 9:1-7). I wanted to be like the man whose four friends brought him to Jesus who not only healed him but made sure he knew that all his sins were forgiven (Luke 5:17-26). I wanted relief, and I wanted it immediately.
Oh, I have no doubt that God can heal (Psalm 103:1-7). To this day I have seen miracle after miracle in my life and in the lives of others. I have seen God do some amazing things where, when people believed, God answered. But back when I was in the midst of the fight of my life—in the hospital in pain and cloudy difficulty, not knowing what would happen next, I wanted it all to just go away. Why didn’t it?
Yes. I know. I just asked Why. The difference? I wasn’t asking God Why I got cancer, but Why He wasn’t healing me. Uh-oh. Another question fraught with danger. What did I do that God won’t heal me? Do I not have enough faith? I will just sit here in my hospital bed and say “I believe” over and over and over again! I will muster all the faith from my toes to the top of my head. I was a man of faith on my hospital bed! But … I wasn’t immediately being healed.
One Scripture that came to mind back then was when Jesus answered Peter, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7, ESV). Of course, this had to do with Jesus washing Peter’s feet, but there was something bigger in that verse for me. It was God speaking to me that I must understand that just because circumstances look bad, I must trust Him because He knows best; later I would look back and understand why I went through what I did. It may not even happen in my lifetime. I may have to wait for heaven, but at some point, I’ll understand the Why.
When I read the Scriptures, particularly narrative in the Gospels, I see a sort of movie in my head. In Matthew 27, Jesus is on the cross with His life slowly pouring out of Him, and His enemies say, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (Matthew 27:42, ESV).
In my movie, I see Jesus, just once, coming down from the cross and standing before those antagonists! What would their faces look like? Would they cower in fear? Would they still not believe? Would they run away? The temptation for Jesus must have been intense. He was God. He could have easily come down from that instrument of torture and death. The temptation went to the core of the mission of the Christ—“He saved others”—that is exactly what He was doing. But they couldn’t possibly understand.
In the same way, the absurdity of the cursed tree makes no sense at all. Why? There’s that question again. But the answer is clear. What Jesus was doing then, no one would understand; but later they would, and not just them, but the whole world would know Why Jesus did what He did.
In dealing with my sin, I understand that God’s ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9) and this keeps me from asking Why. I know Why: He is working a work in me in a way that I would not understand even if I were told every detail (Habakkuk 1:5).
All verses above are quoted from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
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