Archive for August 2012

When We Get Our Friends and Enemies Confused

August 28, 2012

As I am approaching the end of my chemo regimen [one infusion remaining! (September 5-7)], my wife mentioned that we should pray that this last treatment is successful at wiping out any remaining cancer cells that may have survived the first eleven treatments (in other words, any tough, chemo-resistant cells).  It made me realize that while I have been dealing with the side effects of chemo, I have unconsciously transitioned into thinking of the chemo as my “enemy” because of the unpleasant side effects.  After Patty’s comment, I was reminded that chemo is not an “enemy,” it is a “friend,” a tool being used against the real enemy: cancer.

This made me begin to think about the “tools” God uses in my life.  I generally greet unwelcome intrusions into my copacetic routines as “enemies” to “my peace.”  They mess me up.  They make me uncomfortable. They are irritating.  They are not “fun.”  And yet these “intrusions,” these events and circumstances, like chemo, may actually be the very means that God is using to accomplish a “greater good” in my life.

I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s comments in 2Corinthians 12:7-10 where he asked God to take away a “thorn” in his flesh.  He was told that God would not take away the thorn because it gave opportunity for God to show His grace in Paul’s weakness.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited . . . , a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’

“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

And I am reminded of James 1:2-4 where the Apostle James told his disciples that they were to rejoice at their trials because those trials would be a means by which they would grow in maturity.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete [mature], lacking in nothing.”
James 1:2-4

Now, as I think of my chemo, I have to think of it as a tool, a means to an end.  It has its unpleasant side effects, but ultimately it is supposed to be for my good, to knock out the cancer cells, which are far worse and potentially deadly.

I am therefore reminded that God works in my life, providentially using events and happenings that I may not care for at the time, for my good.  As I think about my last chemo regimen I know that I must accept it as a tool, a “friend,” and not an enemy.  And I must, by faith, give praise to God for the various “tools” that He uses to accomplish His work in my life, even if they are, for the moment, unpleasant.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1-4

“Dear Lord, please help me to remember your providential use of ‘tools’ the next time I mistake them as my enemies.  Convict me of my  presumption that things should always go ‘smoothly,’ or ‘pleasantly’ for my present comfort.  Let me, instead, humbly recognize Your use of ‘tools,’ to accomplish Your greater good in me, recognizing that this ‘earthly tent,’ will one day pass away when, ironically, this mortal body will be swallowed up by life.  Please keep my eyes focused on that which really matters, which shall never pass away.”

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