So I’m lying on the Dr.’s table waiting for my test results. I’ve had a mammogram every year but this is the first time they’ve ever called me back to take a closer look.
Earlier, as I looked up at the ultrasound monitor with the swooshy pattern moving with the wand across my skin, I thought of John Piper’s words in, “Don’t waste your cancer”:
Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith. If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin. Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life? Will you pretend it’s business as usual? … But if you are God’s, then suffering in Christ’s hands will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly. You come to terms with life and death on his terms. He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities. He will make you need him and love him. He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often. *
I thought of all the things that take attention and energy in my life . Many of those things suddenly seemed silly and mundane.
Now here’s the really strange thing. Part of me (almost) wished for this life-changing diagnosis because I knew it would shake things up for my good. I concluded that this odd thought could only come from an awareness that the soul is separate from the physical body, and in having experienced the comfort and peace of God in difficulty. The dichotomy of the soul being renewed, even while the body declines is a strange thing to those who may not know the peace of Christ.
It comes from 2 Corin. 4:16:
The Apostle Paul (the author of 2 Corinthians) is saying here that by the dying of one, (the outward, that is, the physical body), the life of the other (the inward, that is, the spirit) is actually furthered, that the hardships become food for our soul’s growth.
I braced myself for the possibility of illness. Knowing the real need for my own spiritual renewal, knowing my lack of discipline and inconsistent pattern of prayer, I had to ask, “why not me?”
What was so special about me that God would spare me when He hasn’t done so with others? What, in our finite way of thinking, makes us blind to His purposes for His children, for that matter?
When the specialist came in and gave me a clean bill of health, my reaction was both great relief and again, an odd sense of a missed opportunity to know and glorify God more deeply, more fully, with more of that spiritual spark that comes when the props of our lives are kicked aside.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a great sense of His mercy and a wave of gratitude washed over me.
Yet I had to ask myself one more thing…why do I necessarily need a crisis to have such a fullness of His Spirit? Do I have to come to a crossroads to look at my spiritual well-being? What is keeping me from living more abundantly in fellowship with Christ?
Has anyone else had a similar experience? Have you ever come to a point that allows you to see the spiritual gain in adversity or even sensed a spiritual renewal, even in physical weakness?