There are times in life when you feel like you’re taking a beating from all sides and have nowhere left to turn. Things are challenging at work, or maybe there is no work to go to; the kids are having difficulty in school, at home or maybe both; the car broke down, the dog is sick…
Let’s just face it, life is hard.
And then the diagnosis of cancer comes.
Cancer has a way of changing our perspective about everything, even if the diagnosis is not our own. Where once a mom could go along complaining about the burdens and troubles of today, a new reality sets in and that same mom now sees in the beautiful eyes of her children, a future that she may never see. It’s funny how we all seem to convince ourselves that we have an infinite amount of time on this planet, to live our lives as we choose and to do all the things that we want to do. When I retire, I’ll travel the world…When I get married…When I have children… But having someone dear to me diagnosed with cancer, causes me to reconsider my own plans and dreams because the reality is that each breath I take is not my own to choose. I cannot consciously consider if I should take another breath and then inhale like somehow I have the power to make this choice. The heart within my chest, which has recently been pounding so hard in fear and anxiousness that I can feel its every beat, beats apart from my will and desires. Each beat belongs to the One who created it.
Whether or not I choose to acknowledge it, I belong to God. I am nothing but a cracked and broken vessel and I can choose to pour out all I have for the God who gives me life, or I can let all I am slowly fade away. Our problem is that we have an enemy who works to keep us from realizing that as we live our lives, filling our jars with all the things of this world that seem to satisfy, all that is of value to us is dripping out the bottom. We can live our whole lives waking up each day feeling empty, and each day looking for the thing that will finally satisfy. We want a bigger house, more money, a more prestigious job, more food, more wine, more of anything to fill the emptiness. Until the day the phone call from the doctor comes and the endless cycle is broken. No longer are plans of the future dominated by desires for things that can be done or had. No, the power and pride is gone, replaced with wonderings about whether or not there will be a future to plan at all.
Cancer can be a beautiful gift, even if it is wrapped in the darkest of packages. If it stops the complaining about how hard life is; if it stops the longing for more and makes us realize that we were made to be empty clay jars in the hands of our God, it has given us something that no earthly treasure could give. What we need, and what our emptiness is longing to be filled with is Jesus. Jesus, who willingly gave up his all—He was everything and became nothing for us. God in all His glory became a babe, sleeping in a lowly manger, for you and for me. When our eyes are opened to this reality, whether it happens through cancer, through divorce or though some other situation that God has divinely allowed, we will see the truth about our lives and the truth of who we are.
I am a sinner and my life is a vessel, an old, broken, leaking one at that. Apart from God I am empty, so I have a choice to make. Will I continue to try to satisfy my deepest longings with the things of this earth while my joy and peace leak endlessly out the bottom, or will I take my life and pour it out as an offering to my God? I am empty either way. Which will I choose?
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
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