Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brain cancer tests a young pastor’s faith

Matt Chandler, center, holds hands with his son Reid, 4, left, and daughter Audrey, 7, in Flower Mound, Texas, on Jan. 4 as they take a walk after a treatment for Matt's brain cancer.

Chandler is trying to suffer well. He would never ask for such a trial, but in some ways he welcomes this cancer. He says he feels grateful that God has counted him worthy to endure it. He has always preached that God will bring both joy and suffering but is only recently learning to experience the latter.

Since all this began on Thanksgiving morning, Chandler says he has asked "why me?" just once, in a moment of weakness.

He is praying that God will heal him. He wants to grow old, to walk his two daughters down the aisle and see his son become a better athlete than he ever was.

Whatever happens, he says, is God's will, and God has his reasons. For Chandler, that does not mean waiting for his fate. It means fighting for his life.

[...] Matt prays that his children and others do not grow resentful.

"Lord, you gave this to me for a reason. Let me run with it and do the best I can with it."

Barnett says later that he's witnessed many tragedies and miracles. He has seen how people handle life-changing moments. He called Chandler's attitude one of the most amazing he's seen.

Chandler says learning he had brain cancer was "kind of like getting punched in the gut. You take the shot, you try not to vomit, then you get back to doing what you do, believing what you believe.

"We never felt — still have not felt — betrayed by the Lord or abandoned by the Lord. I can honestly say, we haven't asked the question, 'Why?' or wondered, 'Why me, why not somebody else?' We just haven't gotten to that place. I'm not saying we won't get there. I'm just saying it hasn't happened yet." [read more...]

The quote, "He says he feels grateful that God has counted him worthy to endure it," caught my attention.
Acts 5:40b-42
They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

I remember the time I went through my HYP. I was feeling very frustrated, and I let it show in my CG. The reasoning I had was that it is ok to share my frustrations in caregroup. Now, looking back, I ponder about the truth of that statement. To what extent is it ok to be "real"? To share? Or ... is there a higher vantage point from which we can rejoice in our sufferings, and yet be as real as pure gold?

This post challenges my reasonings, and exposes to me the inadequacy of my thoughts. I was also thinking about what Hong Teck told me a few weeks ago. He told me that we shouldn't be asking "Why", but "How" questions. Not "Why did this happen to me?", but "How do I move on to do what God wants me to do?" / "What do I do next?"

And now I see more clearly what he meant. I've been taught before that it is good to make sense of our experiences. But now I realise that this is only one part of the equation. We make sense of our experiences and we try to figure out what God may want us to show or teach us. But... I think, there are times that you cannot make sense. It is ok. It is better to trust in God and just keep going on, listening to His voice call you on, even though it is pitch-black. Because, when you persevere on, He may bring you up to the mountaintop and allow you to see the Promised Land.

Maybe. Or maybe not - not on this side of life.

Hong Teck reminded me that there are times that there are simply no clear answers to our pains. But we shouldn't cry out "Why?" I look to Job for an example. And Job's final response to God, through his journey of pain and suffering, is: Lord, I accept Your perfect will. Not my will but Yours be done. I spoke of things too big to understand. But You are too wise for me to argue with. So I despise myself and repent in ashes.

Theodicy. The problem of pain. In a clear-cut example of this age-old question of pain and suffering, when Jesus and His disciples saw a man born blind from birth, the disciples tried to figure out a cause-and-effect explanation.
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Then Jesus went on to heal the blind man.

Let's learn from this dear brother's attitude:
"Lord, you gave this to me for a reason. Let me run with it and do the best I can with it."
And we'll show the world that God is real - and that our faith is real and with substance. I don't think anyone could reasonably accuse us of being insensitive to our feelings, because, well, the sufferer him/herself is the one saying how good God is. And that's a powerful testimony to the living hope that we have in Christ!

So may the work of God be displayed in our lives through the way we choose to respond towards our pains and sufferings. And may we never allow our sufferings to ever stop us from reaching out to others in love - not even for a moment. And may it never stop us from sharing the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Amen!

1 comment:

午餐 said...