I was recently listening to a class on the Internet when the speaker told us he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
He had felt a sudden pain in his side, went to the doctor, underwent a battery of tests and discovered he had an incurable form of cancer. So, he is undergoing a series of treatments to slow cancer’s growth. But before any of us could respond, he directed us to Psalm 139 verses 13 through 15 where we read together: “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Then he repeated the last phrase: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
“Cancer,” he said, “is not going to shorten my life. It’s not going to steal one extra day of my life away from me because God has already determined the number of days I will live before I get to go and see Jesus. So I am not afraid of cancer. In fact, my wife and I are kind of odd ducks because we are the only ones in this special cancer unit who are not afraid of it. We feel really blessed. This hospital is close by and it’s the only one in the country that specializes in researching and treating this form of cancer. Everyone has to fly here for treatment while we just drive, then go home and sleep in our own bed. God has sent us there because I don’t think any of the doctors have ever met a Christian. And now I get to show them the love and peace Jesus has given me. This is the mission God has given us right now.”
I had a hard time paying attention to the rest of his lecture because I was so deeply impacted by his testimony. Was he saying that God caused his cancer? No. But he was saying God had given him a mission purpose even in something like a cancer diagnosis. The patients and medical staff in the cancer wing are his mission field and his purpose is to reflect the Jesus he would spend eternity with.
Jesus said (John 20:21), “As the Father has sent me; I am sending you.” This is such a significant statement. Jesus is saying the mission God had given Him is now the very mission He is giving to us. Jesus’ mission was more than dying for sins. Jesus started a movement called the “Kingdom of God.” It looks like heaven on earth. Healing, miracles, forgiveness, sharing the Good News about God, caring for the poor and oppressed, are all previews of what that Kingdom will finally and fully look like. His death and resurrection secured its eventual coming. Then, before His ascension, He entrusted His mission to his followers: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” That’s you and me. Even life’s big surprises, like a cancer diagnosis, have a greater purpose. We get to bring heaven on earth with the remainder of the days ordained for us. We change the atmosphere around us by reflecting the hope, love, and peace of Jesus who lives in us. So what greater purpose can you find in the situation you are in right now? Who is Jesus sending you to for a time such as this?