I’ve just finished a book by Pastor Kyle Idleman called The End of Me. He’s also the author of the wildly popular Not a Fan (revised and expanded in 2016) which I also loved. As He usually does when I read good Christian material, God spoke to me throughout the book.
Pastor Kyle starts out discussing the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5) and how Jesus’ advice is contradictory to our culture. “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Mt. 5:4) Those who mourn will be blessed? Everyone wants a blessing but who wants to mourn to be blessed?
Let’s look at it through Jesus’ eyes. To paraphrase Idleman: when we suffer, we mourn. Our suffering opens up a huge cavity in our hearts with whatever we’ve lost – it could be a relationship, our health, a person, anything that means something to us. But this is where God can fill us up with Himself. If we allow Him, we will be blessed by His presence … by His comfort … by the peace that transcends understanding.
I, and certainly anyone else who is fighting a terminal disease and loves Christ, has experienced that sorrow – that hole that gapes open like a cavern when you hear the words, “You have _________.” Fill in the blank, for me it was cancer.
But it wasn’t long before I experienced Jesus’ presence … His comfort … His peace. It settled on me in the midst of the battle and poured down into that hollow filling me full of Him. It’s probably the main thing that leads me to glorify God in this whole mess. The reason I can smile. The reason I can praise and worship Him in the midst of cancer.
When I meet others who know what’s going on inside me, they usually start to look all sorrowful and sad. They come up, arms open wide, hug and kiss me and step back saying, “How are you?” I love these people – and I’m not being sarcastic. Anyone who takes an interest in my condition (or loves on my parents through this journey) I seriously adore. There just aren’t enough people in the world today who care about anyone other than themselves.
“I’m great!” I say, beaming a bright smile. Even those who know I follow Jesus seem surprised at my answer. Oh I may have some fatigue or nausea but I am great despite those side effects. Jesus is my Savior and whatever happens I know where I’m going.
I recently remarked in a small church group that I may be answering a lesson question a certain way because I had what was essentially a terminal disease. The group agreed but one woman piped up and said, “You know, we all have a terminal disease.”
We all laughed, but she was right. We’re all dying – just some faster than others.
While I intend to go out on a slow boil, we all should live this life like we’re dying … because we are.
Why? Because God is sovereign. Only He knows when our last day will be. And in the meantime, you too can experience life in a cocoon of His presence – thick and warm like your favorite blanket on a snowy winter morning. Only this Comforter brings that peace that I can never really adequately describe.
How about you? When have you experienced God’s indescribable peace?