'Labor Pains Means Something Wonderful Is Coming' - Encouragement In A Trial
I like to watch shows that pertain to homes.: the building of them, the remodeling of them, and the selling and buying of them. I was watching House Hunters International a few weeks ago and the backstory of the people buying a home was interesting. The couple were looking for an ocean front house in Ecuador. The reason they were looking for a second home in Ecuador on a beach by the ocean was because the wife was a cancer survivor. The family said that the journey through that trial taught her to view life differently and to make sure that they are making the most of every moment.
There is so much truth in the fact that when we face these sorts of moments we do begin to look at life through a different lens. What once was important is no longer the highest priority, what we once filled the hours of the day with are changed with new priorities, we stop taking things for granted and we begin to have more meaningful moments with the loved ones around us.
Because of these things I am not at all surprised that this experience changed this family. This experience created a new set of priorities in which things were seen more clearly and time with family became something to be treasured.
My dad and my father-in-law both died within a year of each other. My dad died of cancer within a short period after having been diagnosed. My father-in-law died within a year and a half of being diagnosed with an illness. In that time all of our lives changed. Every month I would fly to Oklahoma to spend time with my dad. Every day our family would have to adjust to something new that my father-in-law could no longer do. It was during that time that my father-in-laws company bought the entire family round trip tickets to Disney Land in Florida. It was one last trip together as a family.
Today I went to the hospital for some tests. I have often thought of the day that I went to the hospital to see my in-laws before he had his tests that revealed he had Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This morning I arrived forty-five minutes early, which is what I usually do, and I watched as the lab area seemed to be the busiest place in the hospital. Apparently, there are a great many people who are somewhere in the process of dealing with health issues. One man who was rather joyful joked with the receptionist that he was disappointed that he had labs today because he was actually feeling well. As I walked by him this morning I was tempted to encourage him not to loose that sense of humor throughout this process.
After my labs I drove back to the office and prayed a simple prayer that Jesus would grant me peace and grace through this process and wherever it might lead. Right now I am at the stage, “I could be something; but it might be nothing”. I know that at some point in the next few days I will get a phone call and that has me a little anxious. What if the news is troublesome? What if my life is about to take a direction that I don’t like?
When I arrived back at the office I picked up a little tract booklet by John Piper called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer”. The very first devotional is entitled, “We waste our cancer if we don’t hear in our own groanings the hope-filled labor pains of a fallen world”.
Piper writes, “When God subjected the world to futility, he did it ‘in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21). So the groanings of our cancer has a double meaning. It means that sin is horrible, and it means that glorious freedom is coming. We will waste our cancer if we don’t hear in our groanings the labor pains of the new creation.”
He continues, “Labor pains mean that something wonderful is coming. That’s what our cancer means. ‘For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison’ (2 Corinthians 4:17). Don’t misinterpret your own groanings. Don’t waste the witness of your own cancer.”
I appreciated these words this morning. Piper reminded me that at the end of our suffering, whether it results in continued life or in our death, that we are to be reminded through it of eternal things. In this process we are not to grow more attached to this world, as much as we are to grow more aware of the one that is to come. ‘Sin is horrible, and it means that glorious freedom is coming.’
There is also something in those sentence that might be easy to overlook but it too is comforting. Piper writes, ‘That is what our cancer means’. In that little sentence we are reminded that faithful ministers like John Piper have had cancer and in that moment they found great comfort in the Word of God and in their faith. Through that process, they were not weakened; rather, they were strengthened and sought to encourage others who are walking that similar path.
On my way back from the labs today I kept thinking of those people that I would surround myself with should I need too. These people have experienced the groanings in this life but that is not why they are on the list of people to connect with. They are on the list because they did not waste that moment of groaning. Their faith persevered, their faith was strengthened, their faith guided them through it. It is this sort of people that we need when we are going through trials. These people will give you the Word of God and the Word of God will guide you, comfort you, and it will strengthen you.
Proverbs 6:21-22 shows us how the Word of God can be a comfort to us. It says, “Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck, when you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you.”
I am grateful to have a faith that can support my groanings. A faith that reminds me that something better is coming as a result of our sufferings. If I did not have my faith in God then I would simply want to beat these things so that I could enjoy this world for another day. If that were the case, I might recover from sickness and then decide to go and by a second home on a beach somewhere. But if that is all that I learned through such times then I would have wasted these trials. In the end I will have to leave such things behind (Luke 12:13-21). In the end all these things will ultimately perish anyways (1 John 2:15-17).