Candace was a healthy 8 year who loved playing sports. She was very competitive and generally gave the boys a fit. I called her my little tom boy. She came home one afternoon complaining of a stomach ache. We didn’t pay very much attention to it until she complained about it for 3 or 4 days straight. We took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with cancer. They did an MRI and found a softball size tumor beside her adrenal gland and the cancer had already entered her bones. She had stage 4 neuoblastoma which is an aggressive cancer that affects children.
Candace was placed in the hospital the next day and had her tumor removed. This surgery started a journey that has changed my life forever. Over the next 14 months we were in and out of hospitals and doctor offices. She is an amazing kid and a real fighter. We went through 8 rounds of chemotherapy and she went through a stem cell transplant. Despite the grueling treatments Candace died 16 months later.
Most people in this world live by understanding. However, there are a lot of things going on in this world I do not understand. Why do so many helpless people die of disease. What makes a 20 year old young man go into an elementary school and kill 20 children? Why do we have earth quakes, tornadoes and all these other natural disasters that kill so many? There are countless wars going on right now because people will not respect another persons right to exist. Injustice prevails throughout the world. That is why I separated myself from anything that would make it harder for me to reach out to God. That is why I became a Christian. I stopped living by understanding and started living by faith; Faith that in the end Christ will make all things right.
There are several Biblical references as to why we suffer. The most important one I want to remind everyone of is we are living under the curse of sin. With that curse comes disease, pain, and suffering. That being said I think one of the reasons why we suffer is past sins. When we do things we know is wrong and we continue to do them anyway there has to be some sort of earthly disciplinary action or consequences for our actions. People think that they can get away with anything that is done in private. I have a friend whose twitter account is called, “Dirty Little Secrets.” I have reminded her several times there isn’t any secrets from God. He knows everything, and we as Christians will go through “the judgment of fire” when we meet Christ in the air. There will be a lot of people that will smell like smoke when they come out the other end. Your salvation is guaranteed but you will lose reward and many people will go through eternity as paupers. The Bible say, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7 NASB That is why it is so very important to have a daily relationship with our Heavenly Father through Bible study and prayer. When we read our Bible the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and then we pray to the Father to forgive our sins. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9 NASB
I believe as a Christian we are disciplined by God. When we are saved we start to receive blessings from God and things really go good for us. Then we start to relax and fall back into sin again and God has to remind us who is in control so He pulls back on the strings a little bit. All of a sudden things aren’t going our way anymore and I pray we realize what has happen and we get back in God’s grace again. Here again the Bible says it like this, “My son or daughter do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son or daughter whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons or daughters. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of Spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:6-11 When I was a Child and I misbehaved my mom would whip me. That didn’t bother me so much, but when she said, “Wait until your dad gets home,” that scared me. My dad didn’t play. That’s how our Heavenly Father is too. Sometimes He has to take us out to the wood shed.
Another reason why we suffer is just plan stupidity. We live out of the will of God. If you are reading this you have been chosen by God to be or become a part of His family. I know this for a fact because if you were not chosen you could not make yourself find the time to continue reading. This article would appear to you as foolishness and you would have dismissed it long before now. We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ and when heirs do things that are contrary to the will of God it cost us dearly. We damage our relationships with others, we are penalized financially and we suffer major setbacks because of our own self inflicted interest.
On the other hand God’s servant suffers too. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 NASB There is many a good Christian who has taken a stand for what is right and had to pay the price. In the history of the Christian church our predecessors have been beaten, tortured, eaten by lions, and burnt at the stake. There were hundreds of people that were brutalized and murdered just to bring you the Bible. It has only been a couple hundred years since we, the lay person, has had the opportunity to read the Bible for ourselves. Paul a disciple of Jesus Christ shares his own persecutions in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. What ever we have suffered for Christ has been little compared to the great Christians in the past.
Then there is the providence of God where some Christians suffer because of their faith while others avoid persecution because of there faith. There is the story of Peter in prison. God sent him a angel to free him. Then there are countless people in prison all over the world who’s simple misgiving was serving God in faith. The intricate workings of God’s mind is not for us to judge. I have a ministry where I take intercity kids to church. Every Sunday and Wednesday I will pile a bunch of kids in a van and off we go. Well, I tell everyone not to come if you are sick, but they don’t listen. They know when they are suffering from sickness that I will doctor them back to health and on the flip side I end up getting sick four or five times a year. I can tell you it is a difficult thing for me to thank God for my ministry when I am suffering from the stomach flu, but I do it anyway because I love Him. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 There are things that we suffer for our own good or for the good of others around us. Job comes to mind. He was a good man that God had blessed abundantly. God permitted Satan to test him and Satan took his health, his family, and his wealth. Job stood by God anyway and even through a point had to be made that a good man will stand by his Father no matter what the cost I also, believe that Job grew in faith throughout his ordeal. Job explains in his own words that even though he can not fathom the providence of God he keep his faith. Look I go forward, but He is not there, and I go backward, but I can not perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I can not behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I can not see Him. But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have keep His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:8-12 NASB
There are several stories in the Bible where a persons faith had healed them from various sickness and disease. Our faith and prayer for ourselves and others can result in dramatic changes. There is the story of the woman with a blood disorder. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Luke 8:41-48 (NKJV) Then there is the story of the paralytic. So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” And then there was Paul who by his on admission was willing to give up his own salvation and his special relationship with God. He said this to God so that his own Jewish people might come to know the gospel of Christ. He was pleading with them at the courthouse to accept the new dispensation of grace that Christ had shared with him. It angered the Jews so much that if the roman guards had not protected him from the crowd they would have torn him apart. The following night while Paul was sitting in the barracks the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
Now I am telling you. I don’t care what you have been through. I don’t care how bad you are suffering right now. I know it is difficult for you to realize at times that your Heavenly Father loves you, but I say to you “Be of good cheer” because your King and Savior Jesus Christ has paid the price for your freedom. He has paid the ultimate sacrifice for you to be set free of your sins and your sufferings. I stand as a living witness to all that in the end Christ will make all things right. So “be of good cheer,” your faith in Jesus Christ has healed you.