In the month of July 2012 I discovered that I had stage 4 cancer in my neck and throat. What followed was the toughest battle both physically and spiritually that I had ever faced. During that time one phrase that I heard quite frequently was why is God allowing this to happen to you Rick? You see, in the eyes of my dearest friends I am seen as a man who loves God, loves people and helps those in need every opportunity I get. From their perspective they could not understand how a loving God could allow such a horrible thing to come against one of his beloved children. It is understandable. In this world we are often faced with circumstances that just don’t make sense to our limited minds. We live in a fallen world full of evil and corruption and at times I think we all look to the Heavens and ask the Lord “Why are you allowing this. I don’t understand.”
In Proverbs 3:5-6 the Bible says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
You see my job is not to figure things out. My job is simply to TRUST. You can drive yourself crazy trying to make sense out of things in life that seem senseless and worrying about it is not a successful strategy to get yourself through it. Through that entire battle I never asked why. Instead I asked “What do you want me to learn while going through this.”
For approximately 2 months it seemed like there was a deafening silence when I would reach out to God for guidance. I knew he was there, clearly felt his presence and his arms wrapped around me but nothing in the way of verbal communication. I remember lying in bed unable to move. Staring at the ceiling and walls. Just holding on. Weathering the storm. In those moments I would just meditate on scripture that applied to my situation. I don’t understand? Great because that’s not my job anyway (Proverbs 3:5-6) my job is to trust. How is this going to end? Well we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). That means that even though I don’t know why or how, this will somehow work to my favor. AMEN !!!!!!
Now that is crazy Rick !!!! How can a cancer battle that leaves you decimated physically, if you’re fortunate to survive at all, work in your favor? That’s an excellent question and even though I have not had the entire answer revealed to me yet God did give me something to consider while waiting.
As I said earlier my only question was “What do you want me to learn from this Lord.” I didn’t want to be like the children of Israel whining and complaining and continuing to make laps around the desert due to their bad attitudes. I wanted to get through this as quickly as possible. While lying in bed one day I finally heard the Lord speak to me. What follows is what I was given to share with others and hopefully it will bring a sense of peace to those of you reading this who are going through a battle you simply can’t understand right now.
Rick, imagine you are living way back in the day. A simple fisherman just trying to make a living and support your family. One day as you are cleaning your nets you are introduced to a man who says his name is Jesus. Nothing really stood out about him at the time. Seemed like a nice enough fella. You eventually became friends just like you had befriended many others who came across your path. The more you hung around this guy the more you noticed there was something different about him. He was very humble. Seemed like an honest and trustworthy man. Someone that you could see being more than a friend. The type of person that finds their way into your inner circle. More like a brother. As time goes on you have the opportunity to see this man doing things you’d never imagined possible. Healing people, feeding people in miraculous ways. Speaking with such authority that even the winds obeyed him. Something is definitely different about this guy. Revealing things to you about the Kingdom of Heaven and describing things about the Father with such detail it’s like he knows him personally. Yes …… There is something very different about this man who you now call a dear friend. As time goes by he reveals more and more until one day he claims to be the Son of God himself. You think Wow, what a claim. Yet nobody can deny that he is wise and powerful far beyond description. After much thought you begin to accept what he is saying and your heart leaps with joy at the thought of walking with the Messiah. Living every day with a new hope and learning from Jesus, Son of the living God himself. What a blessing to be me. Yeahhhhhh !!!
One night you are awakened by a loud commotion. What in the world is going on at such an early hour? As you stretch and wipe the sleep from your eyes you see some guards manhandling your beloved friend. You struggle to make sense of this. What is going on? Why are they attacking him? He is a good man, why are you doing this? Your eyes meet and he just stares at you with a loving expression on his face. You are wondering why he isn’t fighting. Just letting them abuse him. He’s the Son of God isn’t he? Jesus call down Angels from Heaven and show them who they’re messing with. Nothing……… Just silence from your friend.
You follow close behind as they spit on him, beat him and parade him through the streets. Your mind is racing. A variety of thoughts are being processed. 1. If he is who he says he is how can this be happening? 2. Did I get fooled? 3. Was he just a fraud? 4. They know he was my friend, am I in danger? 5. They might turn on me and beat me too. 6. I gave up everything for this man, what have I done?
Still you follow because above all he is your dear friend. Maybe he’s not the Son of God after all but you care for him deeply and in your heart you know if nothing else he is a good man that helped make you a better person. You love him and it hurts seeing him beaten and humiliated like this. It’s just not right.
As the torture and brutality comes to a close you find yourself staring up at your dear friend hanging on a cross. Beaten, bloody, gasping for air. Still quiet. Still humble. Like an innocent lamb. Your heart is broken as you stand there looking up at everything you believed in hanging on a tree.
Just then a gentleman walks up, puts his arm around you and says “This will work out to everyone’s favor my son.” “I don’t know how, but God says he will work out all things in our favor if we simply trust him and lean not to our own understanding.” You look at him like he is a fool. What are you talking about? Are you crazy? How can anything good possibly come from this ? Please get away from me! Just leave me alone! You turn, drop your head and slowly walk away. Deeply hurt and searching for a place to sit and cry.
See in our limited perspective we see the end of life as we know it. We see something that is so devastating we can’t imagine ever recovering from it. We have no clue that what we view as the worst thing that could have ever happened was in fact our redemption in disguise. What appeared to be the greatest defeat we had ever seen was in fact the greatest victory the world had ever seen. The event that we thought ended all of our hopes and dreams was in fact the very thing that had to happen to make all of those hopes and dreams possible
The Bible tells us that no matter what things look like we are to trust God. Walk by faith and not by sight. No matter how things appear we simply trust. If we do that we are assured of victory no matter what we face. All things, yes, ALL things will work to our favor.
Hold onto to this when in the midst of life’s storms. I can tell you for a fact that this is true. I lived it.
-Rick Cullom –