“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
John Piper wrote an encouraging booklet entitled Don’t Waste Your Cancer that a dear friend gave to us. It’s been helpful to read through it as my wife and I remain steadfast in the Lord through her condition. I would definitely consider this as a time when my family and I are facing trouble.
I believe that the 10 points Piper lists not only apply to life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, but to all “trouble” we encounter in this life. Depending on what version of the Bible you read, the word “trouble” is interchangeable with trial, tribulation, distress, and sorrow.
If you’re going through any of those today, then I’m here to tell you that it’s no coincidence or meaningless misfortune. God has a purpose for our trials.
I’ve gone through many trials in my life, too many to list in this post. More notable ones would include losing my mother in her 50’s, losing my only sibling/sister in her 30’s, and most recently finding out my wife has Stage III cancer. Add those to all of the trials God has brought me through relationally, financially, health-wise, job-wise, and ministry-wise, I can certainly say that I’ve had many opportunities to trust in the Lord and rely on Him for the peace that He promises to His children.
Without further delay, I wanted to share the 10 points that Piper writes about, but I’m going to replace the word “cancer” with the word “trial” and make a few edits for applicability outside of cancer, in hopes that we may be reminded that God is sovereign, and has a purpose for each and every trial we face in this life.
- You will waste your trial if you do not believe God will use it to work for your good.
- You will waste your trial if you believe it is a curse and not an opportunity.
- You will waste your trial if you seek comfort from the world rather than from God.
- You will waste your trial if you refuse to think about your days being numbered.
- You will waste your trial if you think that “beating” that trial means getting through it rather than cherishing Christ through it.
- You will waste your trial if you spend too much time reading about how to beat that trial, and not enough time reading about God.
- You will waste your trial if you let it drive you into solitude, instead of deepening your relationships with manifest affection.
- You will waste your trial if you grieve or complain about it, as those who have no hope.
- You will waste your trial if you treat sin as casually as you did before it occurred.
- You will waste your trial if you fail to use it as a means of witnessing the truth and glory of Christ to others.
I have a lot to say about each and every point above, but I think John Piper and David Powlison do a nice job in the article I linked to. The content still stands whether you have cancer or not.
The point I want to make today is that Jesus clearly states that in this world, we WILL have trials- no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s not IF we have trials, but WHEN. The saving grace is that as we go through them, in Christ we may have peace, and can take heart knowing that He has overcome the world! No trial is too big for our God to overcome, as Jesus has overcome death itself!
The position we’re provided as Christians, is that we can make the conscious effort and decision to use our trials as opportunities to draw closer to God, seek His purpose through our suffering, and ultimately use it as a testimony to bring glory and honor to Him… or not.
As a co-worker recently said to me, “I hope your wife isn’t introverted [his words LOL], and makes every effort to share her amazing testimony with people, because it will make a difference.”
Brothers and sisters, it’s our decision whether we use it or lose it.
Don’t waste your trial.
Note: For more on experiencing joy through suffering, please see my post Consider It Pure Joy.
[From January 16, 2019]