Devotional and photo illustration 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 they can have hope in this world and—through Christ—hope for the next. Visit www.stage4ministries.com for more information.
The most difficult of all blessings are those given when I feel I least deserve them. They almost feel as though I have been given a curse instead. They are the “fortunate misfortunes” that cause my heart to ache. They are showers of light in the midst of the darkness. They are keys to a black heart that open a door toward repentance and fellowship.
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (Genesis 3:7, ESV)
Adam’s realization of nakedness flowed from the repast of misery and malediction. Eyes wide open in the darkness brings about every attempt at a glimmer of light to cover the darkness of the soul. Adam used fig leaves. When God saw the anguished melancholy, without the asking, He gave the blessing of an outfit of leather. Skin for skin. God took an animal and stripped it of its life for hide to cover Adam’s hiding. God gave a blessing to one who did not deserve the blessing.
When I am in the flesh, especially on a bad “chemo” day or I’m aching and fatigued, I am not good to be around, for others nor for myself. I sense these days coming and hide away to protect others from my insensitivity. I realize that my flesh is strong at this point and I am in sin; not wanting to live there, but still “feeling” that way, I am most disturbed when God brings some sort of blessing. I get a call from someone who is special to me to encourage me. I get an opportunity to minister to someone. Someone calls to have me speak at their fellowship or retreat or conference. These are great blessings to me. But they also bring tears to my eyes. I then realize that God is working whether I am in agreeance with Him at the moment or not. Then I am undone. I am in awe of His patience and His persistence in giving me grace. It is too much, and I am overwhelmed by His goodness. Who am I that I should receive such a gift? I am a nothing that God has breathed life into once again; and by His condescension, He has displayed anew that I am yet a son of the King of kings!
Joseph’s brothers were terrified when they found the money that they used to purchase grain in their grain-sacks.
“He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”” (Genesis 42:28, ESV)
When they found the money, their first response wasn’t that those in Egypt had done something to them, or that it was an oversight, as their father, Jacob, would say later. Their first response was, “What is this that God has done to us?”
They were guilty men. They had done evil in selling their brother into slavery. Their wicked hearts now condemned them, and every blessing was a curse. How could they have known that in less than a few weeks travel time, they would be part of the richest family in all Egypt? How could they have known that an even greater blessing was waiting for them in that they would see Joseph again and that he would give them the greatest of all gifts—forgiveness. They would be richly blessed and able to enjoy it all.
When I think I deserve a blessing and do not receive it, I get disgruntled. When I do not deserve a blessing and get one, I am broken. When I receive the blessing and enjoy it on account of a gracious, forgiving God, I am overjoyed! This returns me to the light and to an obedience that could not otherwise be done in my own strength.
I am grateful for the fortunate misfortunes that turn into heaven-sent blessings and everlasting joy.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
© 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.