Three of my friends were recently told that they might have cancer; they all had the necessary diagnostic tests done. For two of my friends, the test was negative; for one, it was not. After hearing about the positive test, I felt very angry—angry at God. I went for a long walk and talked to him about it. I don’t believe that God causes people to have cancer; still, I was blaming him. It felt like it was another example of injustice—bad things happening to good people. Why? I asked.
By the time that I returned home from my walk, I was able to drop my anger. God did not give me an answer to my why; instead, he showed me that I needed to ask a different question—a “what” question. Could what God wants to produce in our lives be more important than why he allows painful and difficult things to happen to us?
What does God want to do in us when we face difficulties? These are some of the qualities that the writers of the New Testament talked about:
- ENDURANCE and FAITH: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.” James, in James 2:2- 8 PHILLIPS
- STRENGTH OF CHARACTER, HOPE, AND LOVE: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Paul, in Romans 5: 3-5 (NLT)
- EMPATHY and PATIENCE: “For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.” Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:5-6 (NLT)
- THE COMPANIONSHIP OF JESUS AND ASSURANCE OF THE FATHER’S LOVE: 35 “Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings or hunger or nakedness or danger or violent death? . . . As it is written in the Scriptures, 37 But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us.” Paul, in Romans 8:35, 36 (NCV)
I’m inspired by the gratitude, faith, and courage of my three friends. Those whose tests were negative are full of joy and gratitude, but they are not selfish. With empathetic love, and faith, they fervently pray for the one whose test for cancer was positive. It’s far from easy, but the faith and courage that God is producing that friend is giving me a desire to more fully trust God, in whatever difficulties I might face.