When we ask "has God rejected me?"
Ever thought this?
I've been reading through 1 Samuel lately. I have been reading and re-reading chapter 15 where God commands Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul doesn't completely obey... [meaning he disobeyed], and Samuel informs him that God has rejected him as king over Israel.
We met with a specialist on my type of cancer on Nov 10th, and while it is still possible I could have had this cancer for many years, it's more likely I've had this cancer for only 1-2 years. He relayed that it's the most aggressive and deadly form of this type of already rare cancer. Metaphorically speaking, if my battle against cancer was a 1 on 1 basketball game, I've been put against Michael Jordan... in his prime.
I admit... I started thinking: "man... what did I do?!?!" [to deserve this?]
Providentially, a few days later, my daily reading brought me to 1 Samuel 15. My question "what did I do?" soon evolved into unhealthy introspection that if God rejected Saul for disobedience then maybe He has rejected me too for some sin of mine. I could include the details of the dark path I followed, but you don't need mine, do you? My guess if you are seeking after God, He has taken you through a valley or two of your own. Maybe you're better than me, but if you've asked this question, let's review this one together.
First, my pastor friends would be upset if I didn't deal with Saul's story first and whether it's allegorical to me. Thanks to good mentoring and faithful Bible teaching, I've learned it isn't. While the enduring command "to obey is better than sacrifice" is an absolute maxim, we aren't to conclude that since Saul disobeyed and was rejected as king, if we disobey, we are rejected and will suffer. Nor does this passage teach the reverse ill-logic that suffering is always a direct result of disobedience and a measurement of God's (lack of) favor. In addition, the greater story arc of the kingship of Saul is an expression of Israel's sin in rejecting God as King. Therefore, the existence of King Saul is an act of disobedience. However, God will use it, as always as He works all things for good, for His glory and teaches that if they won't have him as King, He will show them grace in providing a King "after His Own heart."
Second, if there is anything this cancer trial has confirmed for me is that I am securely His. Saul's kingdom wasn't ever truly his, nor was this life ever truly mine. My life and citizenship are in God's presence. [I thought at one point it'd be funny to write a blog post entitled "I'm possessed!!" However, only my sister would appreciate it as much as we remember the same obscure scene in the movie Inner Space. (My beautiful sister... love her.)]
Back to the point, the truth is: in Christ, I am His.
All of the tremendous grace that has been manifested by Him, and much through many of you has been evidence of His love. Even as I write, one of my kids saw daddy crying and came over and hugged me. Then, she told her brother, who also came and "heard that I was having happy tears" and hugged me. The circumstantial evidences of God's love are amazing, and there have been many.
However, the eternal promises of Scripture are even better:
- I have been bought with a steep price (1 Cor 6:20).
- I have been given eternal life (1 John 5:11-13)
- I have been marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit, a deposit of a guaranteed inheritance as God's possession (Eph 1:13-14)
- I cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ (Rom 8:35-39)
Therefore, if I am in Christ, which by God's grace I am, for God to reject me, He would have to reject His Son and His Spirit. He would have to reject the other two persons of the Trinity. They have staked their claim.... and I am glad to be theirs.
Thirdly, there is one thing similar to Saul's plight with my plight. We both serve as pieces in a greater story arc of God's plan. Saul had his, and I have mine. My cancer and my trials serve the greater story arc of the Gospel. My vicious cancer is undeniable evidence of the brokenness of this world, the effects of sin and the judgment of death. My groanings join the groaning of a world longing for its redemption (Romans 8:15-23). My cancer is evidence of the effects of total depravity. It should compel all of us to seek our Holy Father as our greatest prize in Christ. If that is God's purpose for what remains of my life, then I am glad to bend my knee to it... even if it is a painful purpose.
Lastly, my hope is in Him. I may be in a 1 on 1 cancer match with Michael Jordan. But, God can slam dunk him any time He wants. Therefore, my hope for healing lies only in Him. If He wills to heal me now, then I praise Him. If He wills to heal me in death and reunion with Him, then I praise Him.
Either way, I must praise Him: the God Who works all things for good.