Learning From Life’s Experiences
God expects us to grow in our lives as His children. Certainly one way that we are expected to grow is in knowledge of His word. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18). We can also learn from the experiences and mistakes of others. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul told these brethren that the things that had happened to God’s people of old were designed to be examples of pitfalls that they should avoid in their own lives (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). However, we also have the opportunity to learn from our own successes and failures. Our life experiences are designed to be our teacher as well.
My wife was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the beginning of this year. Since her diagnosis, God has taught me many lessons and reminded me of others that I need to carry forth through the remainder of my life.
TRUSTING GOD IMPLICITLY – This situation served as a “slap in the face,” reminding me that many things in life are simply “out of my control.” There was no way that I could manipulate this situation to bring the favorable outcome which I desired. Even doctors and medicines were limited in what they were able to do. My wife’s life hangs in the balance. Part of me struggled with letting go of control and giving it all to God. The Scripture told me, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). I was reminded that it is my trust in Him which sustains me. He holds all of our lives and souls in His hands. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
TAKING ONE DAY AT A TIME – One of the great challenges of facing a life-threatening illness is learning to take one day at a time. What will be the final outcome? What will my wife face in six months? What will tomorrow bring? God tells me to live one day at a time – allowing Him to care for all of my needs. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34).
BEING THANKFUL FOR EACH AND EVERY DAY OF LIFE – Solomon wrote, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). James described our lives as a vapor which is here but for a few moments then vanishes (James 4:13-17). This life-experience has reminded me to be aware that each day is a gift and that none of us have a promise of tomorrow. “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12).
VALUE YOUR LOVED ONES – I love my wife. She has been such a wonderful and godly woman who has sacrificed more than most women in our nearly 39 years of marriage. However, many times I have taken her and her dedication to our family for granted. This giant we are facing has reminded me of just how much I need to appreciate my wife and the blessing of family. My wife’s inability to cook and care for the house shifted my role to that of “Mr. Mom.” This has certainly renewed my appreciation for the hard work that my wife has quietly performed throughout our many years together. All of our family, whether parents, spouse, siblings or extended family should be truly valued as blessings from the Lord.
UNDERSTANDING THAT THE SALVATION OF ONE’S SOUL IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN SAVING THEIR LIFE - On July 25th my wife underwent a 10-hour surgical procedure to remove the cancerous tumor. Only about 20% of people with this type of cancer survive long enough to reach surgery. God brought her safely through this very delicate surgery. When the biopsy came back all indications pointed to the idea that all of the cancer had been removed. I have been so humbled by God’s mercy to preserve her life. Words can never fully express the gratitude that I feel in my heart for His preservation of her life! Then I began to dwell on this fact. I am so thankful for God saving my wife’s life – shouldn’t I be ever so much more grateful for the fact that He saved her soul (and mine)? Jesus asked the question, “What is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
My wife’s illness has taught me many lessons and reminded me of others that I had let slip. God, please help me to remember these lessons and look for the lessons that You want me to learn from the experiences that are yet to come.