he Bible talks a lot about miracles and divine healing. In our church, we have prayed for many sick people and have seen genuine healings, even in very difficult situations. Not everyone has been healed, but many have. I am convinced of God’s willingness and His power to heal the sick, just as Jesus did so many years ago.
So when my father received that terrible diagnosis of cancer, my family and our church fought the good fight of faith. We prayed continually for my dad. We stood on the promises of the Bible and believed that God would heal his body and prolong his life.
The people in our church are amazing, let me just say that. Their outpouring of love in that season still moves me to tears. My family will forever be in their debt. We walked through the valley of the shadow of death together, and even in the darkest of times, they did not waver in their faith.
For several years my dad had almost no symptoms of cancer. The treatments had difficult side effects at times, but the cancer itself seemed to be controlled. Our faith was high. Our prayers were energetic and full of confidence.
After several more years, however, he began to worsen significantly. His blood counts deteriorated. Pain increased. The treatments were slowing the progress of the cancer, but his health had taken a definite turn for the worse.
As circumstances changed, we were all forced to question what we really believed about God, about death, and about the meaning of life. I don’t think we doubted God’s goodness or power to heal, but we had to wrestle with questions we never thought we would face.
What if Pastor Wendell doesn’t get healed? You could tell it was on everyone’s mind. For years now, we’ve been praying for his healing, believing for his healing, talking about how sure we are that he is going to be healed—but what if he dies? What happens to our faith then?
I had recently become the preaching pastor of our church. My dad was still the senior pastor, but because of his health he was rarely able to preach. So every weekend, I would stand before the church and declare the goodness and power of God. And every weekend, I could see the questions in people’s eyes.
But my parents’ faith was unquenchable, and all of us took heart and grew in faith as we watched them. My dad said it best: “No matter what happens, we win.”
In 2010, a few days before Christmas, my dad passed away. He is in a better place — an infinitely better place. He finished his race, he fought the good fight of faith, and he passed the baton to the next generation. Now, I believe he’s looking down on me and on our church, cheering us on.
We were sad, of course, and the loss was difficult. We still miss him every single day. But our perspective in this life is based on eternity. We know we will see him again. We know that God’s goodness and love and power are as real as ever.
The Bible calls death the final enemy. It’s a bigger enemy than sickness, doubt, fear, sin, poverty, or pain. Jesus conquered this final enemy in the Resurrection. That means we don’t have to fear anything — even death. I firmly believe that heaven was the ultimate victory for my dad. Death did not defeat him, because Jesus had already defeated death.
Romans 5:21 says, “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (NLT).
This is how we gain perspective in life. It’s the gospel that brings things back into proportion. Bad news abounds, but the good news of the gospel trumps it every time. Obstacles may loom large, but Jesus is greater than them all.
The Sky Is (Not) Falling
Sometimes Christians are the biggest doomsayers of all. It’s not healthy. Frankly, it’s not even Christian. Fearfulness is an indictment against our God.
Sorry, but I don’t subscribe to the notion that the world is a hopeless mess and we just have to hang on till Jesus comes back. I refuse to stockpile guns and gold, build a tree house in Montana, and wait for the world to go up in smoke.
Our tendency to overreact to bad news is, unfortunately, legendary. We can only cry “It’s the end of the world!” so many times before people lump us in with Chicken Little and the boy who cried wolf.
News flash — regardless of the state of the world or the poll results of your favorite politician, Jesus is still in control. He wasn’t voted in and He can’t be voted out. He rules and reigns over the affairs of mankind.
Because Jesus lives, I can live differently. I can act and react from a place of peace and an attitude of assurance.<
Jesus is in control of my past, my present, and my future.
Despair over my past failures or fear over future problems cannot control my present because Jesus rules me with peace.
God says in a poetic passage in Isaiah: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (66:1). In other words, God is far bigger than we are. His perspective of the planet is not limited to time and space.
I’m convinced that in comparison to God, we cannot make our problems small enough. We cannot make Satan small enough. We cannot make sin and sickness small enough. When we consider the magnitude and majesty of our all-powerful, all-knowing God, when we realize Jesus is here with us no matter what turns or twists our lives take, we find peace.
Some people think Jesus and Satan are about equal in power. They think good and evil are duking it out in some cosmic boxing ring, and the fate of the universe depends on this match. It’s the 15th round, and we’re in the stands, hoping against hope that Jesus pulls off a victory, but it doesn’t look good. Evil seems to be winning.
Every time Jesus takes it on the chin, we grimace and we groan. Someone yells out, “Somebody call the fight. He’s bleed- ing! He’s taking too many punches!” Jesus goes to His corner with His trainer, the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is telling Him, “Just keep dancing. Keep juking and diving. Maybe there’s still a chance.”
People in the stands are thinking, “Man, I hope Jesus makes a comeback.” Wait—what? A comeback? Where do we come up with this stuff? Jesus is God. God does not make comebacks. When you’re God and nobody else is God, you’re never behind.
My dad used to say, “We serve a great big God and we are opposed by a little bitty devil.” Let’s not get that backward. There is no doubt who will be the winner in the struggle between good and evil, because Jesus’ death and resurrection already dealt Satan a fatal blow. The devil is nothing but a dog on a leash. He is a toothless lion. He is a magician hiding behind a curtain, trying to manipulate us through smoke and mirrors. Just read the end of the Bible.
I’m not worried about the state of the union, the state of the universe, or the state of my finances. I’m going to go to sleep tonight with a smile on my face not just because I get to sleep next to the most beautiful woman in the world but because Jesus is in control.
That’s not irresponsibility, gullibility, or naiveté. It’s true life.