“Okay. Inhale. Hold it. Now exhale. Hold it.”
I realize I’m following the technician’s instructions to my husband. I’m holding my breath, even though I’m not the one having pictures taken of my liver and pancreas. My husband’s symptoms scare us both beyond words. Something’s not right, and we’re praying like no tomorrow that the MRI rules out pancreatic cancer. Because a diagnosis like that would likely mean few tomorrows are left.
At night we lay in silence, still holding our breath. All we can do is hold each other and try not to cry. Inside my heart I’m begging God for mercy. But we have to wait several days for the results.
Inside I can feel it growing; I’m angry. Why would God allow this?
But even as I begin this line of thinking, I hear these words pressed upon my heart: Do you trust Me?
I want to argue: Lord, You know I trust You, but right now I’m scared. Really Scared. I’m afraid of losing my husband, but even more than that, I’m afraid I’ll become so angry with You that I’ll lose You too.
Therein lies my deepest fear of all: Becoming so angry with God that I’d turn my back on Him.
And yet, I know I wouldn’t survive without God carrying me.
In the book of Philippians Paul says, “even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” (2:17). Sitting in chains and awaiting his trial, Paul knows he might die a martyr’s death, and he likens the spilling of his own blood to the Old Testament pouring of a drink offering. And we can see in the book of Numbers those “drink offerings” weren’t consumed (15:1-12). They were poured out as part of a sacrifice.
The sacrifices in the Old Testament foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice that would come — Jesus, the Lamb of God — who would lay down His life on the cross for all of us. Just as the Old Testament drink offerings point to Jesus, Paul considers his possible martyrdom as a “drink offering” that would point others to Jesus.
But Paul takes it a step further by saying “even if.” Even if he’s called to make the ultimate sacrifice and give his life for Christ, he sees such an offering as a source of deep gladness.
While waiting for the results of the MRI, my husband and I did our best, individually and together, to embrace our “even if.” I can’t say we experienced a joyful gladness over the prospect, but I can say we both experienced a peace in His presence. Because we each came to the place where we said: God, You are the Lord of my life. Even if.
Thankfully, the results came back with a better-than-most prognosis. His liver was reacting adversely, but with time he’d be okay. I know the results don’t always come back with good news for everyone. And if there’s ever a “next time” for us, the results might not come back with good news for us either.
But I do know this: God won’t ever leave us, even when we’re tempted to leave Him.
Throughout the Week . . .
This weekend Pastor Jeff Vines challenged us to make Jesus not only our Savior, but also our Lord—to make Him Lord over every area of our lives, and to yield in obedience to Him, even in the hard trials we face.
- Read Mark 11:1-11 and Luke 19:28-31. In both of these accounts, the gospel writers tell us that Jesus rode a donkey that had never been ridden before. What is the significance of this detail? How does this detail demonstrate that Jesus is Lord over all creation?
- Read Philippians 2:17-18 and Numbers 15:1-12. Has there been a time in your life when you faced an “even if” moment? What did God reveal about Himself to you during this time?