Since Let's Talk has a button link right on the front page of this site, it does not appear again here. Click on the Let's Talk button in the left panel on the home page to see Steve Vistaunet's message and follow the discussion it sparks.
You, a friend or family member have been there. There is where your life is comfortable and warm. There is where future plans are laid in anticipation of even better things ahead. That is there. But then "it" happens. A debt comes due. A relationship sours. A job evaporates. A diagnosis comes back positive.
We all live on the knife edge of status quo — the dividing line between the peak and the valley. Some eagerly take risks, voluntarily leaving their comfort zones for the promise of potential. Others hold tightly to the familiar, desperately hoping nothing will rock their rigid world.
But in this life, regardless of your approach, things happen. A spouse looks you in the eye and says, "I'm leaving." Your boss mentions the possibility of downsizing. The doctor gently hands you a grenade labeled "cancer," with pin pulled and fuse lit.
Cancer has impacted the lives of more friends and family members than I can count. Just the other day I pulled a book off the shelf, When Your World Falls Apart, written by David Jeremiah in the aftermath of his battle with lymphoma. Jeremiah draws from the 12th chapter of Hebrews three possible choices we can make in response to life challenges. Number 1: We can despise the moment and rail against it; 2. We can become discouraged by the event, lose heart and give up; or 3. We can endure it and be trained by it. 1
He references a quote from the venerable preacher Charles Spurgeon in support of the third option. "I bear willing witness," said Spurgeon, "that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop." 2
Those are uncomfortable words. I do not personally believe God wields cancer to teach us a lesson. He does not punish children or spouses with physical or emotional abuse. But Spurgeon is alluding to the contrast between a sin-afflicted world and a Savior. What the devil attempts to use as destructive, God turns to something instructive. That which evil intends to consume with fire is purified instead like gold.
Jeremiah concludes the thought with these words: "The only road that leads to the destination God desires for us has its sharp bends. All attempted shortcuts lead into wilderness." 3 Maybe this is why women tend to handle these things better than men who can't bear to ask directions.
As I returned the book to its shelf, a card slipped from where someone had tucked it into the flyleaf and fell into my hand. On it were hand-lettered instructions, a recipe for "Fresh Blueberry Pie."
How interesting, I thought — blueberry pie in the midst of a book about suffering — and yet, perhaps, how appropriate to the recipe for life. Human struggle (mixing and baking), combined with God's providence (ah, the blueberries), creates in the end something memorable.
Where we're at, enmeshed in the process, is not the best vantage point from which to judge outcomes. I do know our Maker/Provider has a history of surveying His work and pronouncing it "good." I'm confident we can trust our journeys, with all the apparent twists and turns, to Him.
"The only road that leads to the destination God desires for us has its sharp bends. All attempted shortcuts lead into wilderness." — David Jeremiah
1 Jeremiah, David. When Your World Falls Apart, Thomas Nelson, Nashville. 2000. 17.
2 Ibid., 18.
3 Ibid., 17.