At Jerry Delmark’s memorial service during the time of sharing multiple people got up and testified that he was an authentic Christian. He walked his talk. He loved God. He was a hard worker. He made a difference in the lives of those around him. I know this to be true because Jerry had a tremendous impact on our oldest son Bryan. Yet while the tributes were fittingly positive, it was Jerry’s daughter, Jackie, who subtly took us to a harder place. Yes, she cherished his humor and loving parenting but quietly she wondered why he had to suffer so painfully in the final leg of his journey. Her question was not addressed to us but to God.
Jerry died fighting an aggressive cancer. Though only 63, his last two years were wracked with a near-fatal lung condition and then a relentless battle against a disease that stole his life. Through it all he flourished in faith and hope, and in humor and courage. So why would God let such a faithful servant, a hard-working saint and example to so many people suffer? What was the point?
Isaiah 48:17—This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.
As best we know, Jerry is with Jesus and his peace and healing are secure. I suspect if he could come back and visit us he would say we were asking the wrong question. Rather than ask why God allowed him to suffer, I believe what Jerry would suggest is that we answer a better question—who leads you?
God led Jerry where He wanted him to go. For Jerry it was never about the cancer it was about the Creator who taught him and led him from groaning to glory.
This fact is indisputable: on earth pain hits the righteous and the unrighteous. Suffering is universal. If we focus on affliction our mind is sure to find the catch basin for discontent, complaining, blaming, and questioning. The result is more pain and faith is of questionable value. If we believe God is sovereign and allow Him to take us where He wants us to go, trust sweeps our mind free of bad attitudes and whys. God is glorified by our joyful walk.
So who leads you? When the fires of the worst imaginable kind burn you where does your hope lie? When your body is under assault to whom do you cry out? When life on earth is the pits who sits on the mountain and calls you home? It’s not about what’s fair, or fun, or deserved, it’s all about who leads you. This is why Jesus with His last breath could triumphantly say, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Do not forget that suffering is included in the experience of abandonment. It is the fire of suffering which will bring forth the gold of godliness.—Jeanne Guyon in Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ
©2014 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)