… when you’re a believer in Christ.
I’ll never forget a couple of years ago when I was doing the Daniel Bible Study by Beth Moore. She was teaching the lesson from Daniel 3 of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego getting thrown into the fiery furnace. (If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to read it in Daniel 3, but also watch the Veggie Tales version :)). The fact of the matter is that each of us is going to face a fiery trial at some point, for that matter, probably more than one. What Beth taught that has stuck with me all these years is that:
- We can be delivered from the fire.
- We can be delivered through the fire.
- We can be delivered by the fire.
When someone has cancer (or any other life-threatening illness/situation or fiery trial) God can deliver us from it (a healing miracle), God can deliver us through it (grace to endure) and God can deliver us by it (bring us right to Him in heaven). By one our faith is built, the next our faith is refined and finally our faith is perfected. No matter which way we are delivered from the fiery trial, we win with God.
Now, this applies to any fiery trial, but tonight I’m speaking of cancer/illness, healing and/or death. My sweet friend Dara is no longer walking by faith, but since Saturday afternoon has been walking by SIGHT on streets of GOLD in the presence of the ONE in whom she had GREAT faith. I’m so stinking jealous of her! A few weeks ago, Dara and I had a text conversation and she was fully believing God for a miracle. Her text signature was, “I will live and not die” Psalm 118:17. Her BOLD faith was a tremendous example to all of us… it wasn’t just a mustard seed, it was the whole, blazing tree! She also mentioned frequently in texts or on Facebook that she was walking by faith and not by sight. It definitely wasn’t due to lack of faith that God’s will was to deliver her by the fire, but in His great mercy He has gifted her with HEALING. Her faith has become sight. She has not died, she lives! She WON!!! See cancer can’t win when you’re a believer, because if you’re healed on this earth, that’s a win. But if you’re healed right into heaven, that’s a win. That’s a Superbowl, National Championship, Grand Slam WIN!
That doesn’t diminish the fact that her family and friends won’t mourn or miss her. We do and we will. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. He understands and feels for/with us when we mourn a loved one. Just because we celebrate Dara’s (or another loved one’s) WIN in heaven, it’s perfectly normal, expected and OK to mourn while here. Quite a God ka-wink-kee-dink that just this past week I downloaded a podcast from Pastor Matt Chandler from Village Church in Texas. I have never listened to any of his messages prior to this one. I just happened to think, “Hmmmm, wonder what Matt Chandler’s preaching on?”. Yeah, that was God. Matt’s message from June 5th was titled “Transitions” and is about leaving/dying, the transition from this life into heaven and it was so encouraging. If you have recently faced a death of a loved one, or are facing that type of situation, I highly encourage you to listen to this series. I listened today to the June 12th message which was about heaven and dude, I can’t wait to get there! But, the 1st message (June 5th) had some truths that blessed and prepared my soul for what was to come this past weekend:
- Life is given to us, a gift from God. “Death is God pulling back to Himself the gift that He granted us in breath.” (from Psalm 104:29) “We’re not alive because God owes us that. We’re here because God gave us life.”
- “In death, we are finished with our toil, finished with our work.” 2 Tim. 4:6-8 (This was read tonight at Dara’s funeral, coincidence? I think not). “Nobody dies early.” “I’m untouchable until it’s time.”
- “Death is a simple surrendering of our spirit unto the Lord.” Now, here is the part that was of most encouragement to me. ***John 8:51, “I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death—ever!” Those last struggling breaths, we will not taste. Those of us that are followers of Christ, that keep (believe, trust in) His word, will not see/taste death. Jesus takes us ‘out of there’ before death happens, we are rescued from it. If you have been there with someone in those final moments, those last, struggling breaths – those that have received Christ did NOT struggle in that time. Christ steps in and we win!
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
55 O Death, where is your victory?
O Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work,
knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:54-58