The world is full of sadness and sad news. Right now in various parts of the world there are wars being fought, floods unexpectedly taking lives, lethal heatwaves, and crippling droughts. And daily, people are dying for any number of tragic reasons.
In the past few weeks, several people I have known well have died far too soon. One was a dear friend of mine who left behind a pre-teen daughter when cancer prematurely ended her life. Another friend, It Is Written Associate Speaker Ron Halvorsen recently lost his battle with cancer. And just today Warren Judd, a long-time friend of the It Is Written ministry, has laid down his armor and gone to his rest.
Warren learned right around a year ago that he was facing health challenges. He had worked beyond retirement age, and was a picture of health: tall and lean, positive, active in life and ministry, part of a vibrant family and possessing an ardent faith in God. Not the typical cancer patient by any means, although cancer so often does what isn’t “typical.”
As the manager of the facility where It Is Written was located for many years, Warren dealt with our It Is Written team on virtually a daily basis. Warren loved people, and he loved ministry. A creative thinker, he was always kind in his dealings with others—even if they were not kind in their dealings with him. He was a gentleman. And now he rests, waiting for the resurrection.
We’re reminded yet again that life is precious, that life is fragile, that nothing in this world is guaranteed, that every day is a gift and that family and friends and faith in God are the truly important things in this world.
Over the weekend I had lunch with friends who had lost a year-old grandson to cancer. Someone asked me, “Why does the wages of sin have to be so severe?” I wondered if God—who witnessed the death of His own Son—ever considered the same thought.
But we’re reminded—again—that believers in Jesus have everything to look forward to. In God’s providence, this world is not where everything ends. There will soon be a great, getting-up morning. The dead in Christ shall rise. We’ll see our loved ones again. We’ll be reunited with family and friends. God is His providence has designed a perfect plan. Even death cannot prevent God’s ultimate design from being carried out.
And we’re also reminded that we possess the answers to precious few of life’s challenging questions. Why should a man of faith come down with a terminal illness? Why are some healed and others are not? Why does God not always answer our prayers for deliverance from illness? While answers are somethings hard to find, the True Answer is not. When confronted by questions like these, rather than ask Jesus for the answer, it might be better to remember that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The Bible tells us that “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
And miracles come in many shapes and shades. This morning in our staff worship—as we prayed for a miracle for Warren and his family—two experiences were shared concerning people who were told they had tested positive for cancer, only to be told when surgery was performed that no cancer was present. Miracles? It would seem so Miracles, or misdiagnoses. But let’s say they were in fact miracles—which seems to be the case. Why was there not a miracle in Warren’s case?
Ah, but there was. Cancer is a terrible diagnosis to receive. And yet since Warren was diagnosed with cancer, he and his family have only radiated positivity, trust, and faith in God. Which isn’t to say a family doesn’t have challenging moments. But as the news got progressively more grim for Warren and his family, reports from Warren’s family exuded increasing faith in God and surrender to His Sovereign will. An attitude of constant faith and trust in God in the face of a brutally challenging diagnosis is as much a miracle of divine grace as healing from a difficult illness.
God doesn’t always reveal His goodness through the absence of challenging circumstances. Often, God’s goodness is experienced in the midst of challenging circumstances.
We have everything to look forward to. Keep looking forward! Jesus is coming back soon.
[photo courtesy of North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists]