At some point in life, all of us will be diagnosed with a serious and perhaps life-threatening medical condition. How will we react in such a situation? Could such an unwanted circumstance have a deeper purpose? A difficult diagnosis and illness can be viewed as either a mirror or a window. A dark adversity can represent a mirror in which we see ourselves and then are overcome with self-pity. Alternatively, a difficult time as this can be a window through which we can see the world around us filled with people who are walking a similar pathway as ourselves. An important purpose for which God can use our specific condition is found in the Bible in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which states: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” Our condition can serve as a major purpose in ministering to others experiencing similar situations. A man whose wife was dying of cancer has shared his thoughts* based on Psalm 55. As he witnessed the fourth member in a family of four facing a battle with cancer, he was strongly reminded of Jesus’ experience and prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to his crucifixion. Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter and forsaken by all His disciples. Jesus’ response was to cast His burden on God the Father thus serving as an example for us all when we are distressed or when we are helping to comfort others.
The starting point for all of us including Jesus is to pray that our suffering be removed and that we be delivered of our condition. Jesus prays in Matthew 26:39, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” After praying for deliverance, Jesus’ second prayer was for acceptance when He prayed in verse 42, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” For me personally, this is the most difficult prayer to pray yet it is the prayer that God wants to hear above all others as it demonstrates our complete faith and trust in God’s overall plan for our lives and the events therein. The third level of Jesus’ prayer (and ours hopefully) is one of glorification. Jesus desired that God’s grace would be seen in Him and that His Father would be glorified. In John 12:27-28, Jesus prays “Now my soul is troubled and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour, Father, glorify Your name.” The beauty of Jesus’ prayers is that they not only reveal His divine nature but His human nature as well. He is fully capable of truly “feeling our pain.” We too can cast our burdens on the Lord and in the process help others to do so as well. May our deepest desire be that God’s grace would be seen in us, that we share with others the comfort which we ourselves have received, and that God would be glorified in our stressful times and in our reaction to them.”
* Adapted from “When You Feel Like Running Away: Psalm 55” by Roy Clark. © 2008 RBC Ministries.