We were standing in the sunshine, my brave and determined friend and I. Our boys were posing and smiling for pictures, all dressed up in tuxedos and sunglasses, both of which seem to be compulsory attire for senior prom, the sunglasses as important as the tuxedo.
“I know that whatever happens, God will be glorified,” my friend said, the assertion in her voice strong, almost fierce. “I believe and I know that I am ok. No matter what. I know.”
My friend has brain cancer. And as I stood there, humbled and awed by the confidence of her faith, I thought to myself: her theology is her reality. Her salvation in Christ, her assurance of life beyond, it’s not some pie-in-the-sky, vague sort of happy-clappy hope. It’s real. She’s living it. She’s the embodiment of Romans 5. My friend, she stands and she stands firm in grace. She rejoices in hope even in suffering because she knows–she knows!–the love of God in Christ Jesus.
This hope of hers, it’s not pie-in-the-sky sentimentality and it’s not exactly glamorous either. It’s cancer. In her brain. She’s taking all kinds of meds on a crazy, complicated schedule. Surely she has much cause to complain, to whine, to doubt.
And maybe she does. Maybe she will. But even in the cancer, in the doubt, in the uncertainty, she clings to hope. She believes. She knows.
How? How can she be so sure? What gives her such calm confidence? She will be the first to tell you just what she told me: the Lord Himself. She believes the good news of the gospel to be true; she believes it, she needs it, she banks her life on it.
What is this gospel? That Jesus Christ died to save sinners. Our sin–my sin, my friend’s sin, your sin–is terrible and horrible and condemns us all to hell, each one of us. By dying on the cross Jesus paid that penalty of death. He rose again and now offers grace and mercy to anyone who would turn to Him in repentance and faith.
My friend loves the Lord and she loves this gospel and she wants the Lord to be exalted and the gospel proclaimed even in her cancer.
We stood there chatting in the sunshine on that glorious spring afternoon. One day, sooner or later–please, Lord, let it be later–the shadows will come, for her and for me too. And, yes, for you as well. If these past couple of weeks have shown us anything it’s the brevity of life and the unexpected nature of death. Where then is your confidence? My friend, she knows. I pray you do as well.