Cancer. The word we fear. The word that has affected many we know and love. The word that has a zillion causes. The word that seemingly has gained strength and numbers like a tsunami. You just never know when it’s going to strike, and to whom.
As I contemplated this last week after word that my mom’s tumor has enlarged despite chemotherapy, it occurred to me that although the alarmingly high rate of cancer seems to be new to this generation, illness is not.
Before vaccines and antibiotics, illness was commonplace, devastatingly so. Infirmities our generation doesn’t blink an eye at plagued generations before us.
In Jesus’ day, he spent much of his time healing. Sickness was just as pervasive then as it is now.
Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.
We all plan to live into our 90s and die in our sleep. None of us plans to be targeted by cancer or disease or antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
But what if?
What if we all lived into our 90s and died in our sleep?
It would be a travesty, from an eternal perspective anyway. You see, we already have a very difficult time grasping the concept of eternity. We don’t realize – not really – that our life here is a mere blip on the radar of forever. Yet what decision we make here – whether to repent of our sins and accept the forgiveness Jesus offers – will decide our forever fate.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in the human heart. That’s why it’s so natural to fear death. There is a hereafter.
So in a way, perhaps illness serves an eternal purpose. It reminds us that our lives here are fleeting. It causes us to search for hope. And if we search in the right place – the Word of our Creator and Savior – we see that Jesus conquered death.
God is more concerned about our eternal state than our earthly comfort. God never said our life here would be easy in our sin-stained world. But we aren’t without hope.
Whatever it takes to point us to the ultimate Healer, for that – in a way – I can be grateful.
This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10