04 Dec 2022
Times of sufferings, whether great or small, can wreak havoc on our lives. They can bring us much sorrow and fear. They can make us angry and bitter with life. They can cause us to withdraw or even give up on our faith. But I have found that sufferings don’t have to wreck my life. There will still be unexpected changes. They will still be painful to endure. But sufferings that embraces the God of all grace leads to his eternal glory in Christ. I know this is true. And I pray you will also experience His grace and glory in whatever sufferings you may face.
Thank you so much for all your well wishes and your concern. I'm very excited and thankful that after a long period of time, not just due to COVID-19 restrictions, but because of what happened to me personally, I'm able today to come back and to share with you the Word of God, to testify what I have learned during this period.
Some of you may not know me, my name is Chee Keen. I'm a pastor here at Gospel Light, and I pastor the Chinese congregation. On first July 2021, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was very shocking to me because I have no family history, no one in my family has cancer. And I'm still considered young by the doctors, meaning it is not the time when they start scanning and checking to see whether there's any such growth in the system. And while I may not be especially ..….while I may not be a ‘health freak’, for lack of a better term, I do my part to stay away from instant noodles, canned food, preserved food, to do my part to keep my body healthy. And so, it was very, very shocking. Totally unexpected.
Accepting Cancer as a God-appointed Journey
But my wife and I, we accept [cancer] as an unexpected, God-appointed journey for us in which we desire, I desire, to learn to follow Jesus better. And [I] pray that all that has happened to me might also serve to advance the Gospel. Interestingly, I have just finished the sermon series on the book of Acts. And in the second last chapter of the book of Acts, chapter 27, Paul was facing a violent storm on his way to Rome, to give witness to the Gospel. And he said to everybody who was fearing the loss of their lives, that there is hope. He said, “I believe that what God has said will be so” and so I was reminded of that when the diagnosis came. In the midst of all those unsettled emotions, fears and anxieties, I cried out to the Lord for a verse to anchor my faith. And as I prayed and sought the Lord over it, he impressed upon my heart, 1 Peter 5: 10. And 1 Peter 5:10 says: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
So, this message that I'd like to share with you today is like a personal testimony. I'd like to share with you what I had learned in this past year or so, in my journey of treatment of fighting cancer, and what the Lord has taught me in order to keep on following Him, and to follow Him well. And the key truth I'd like to share with you this morning is that suffering that embraces the God of all grace, leads to His eternal glory in Christ. I hope that today, after hearing from the Word of God, you would, like myself, begin to embrace the God of all grace, if you have not done so (whatever you may be experiencing in your own life) so that it will lead you to His eternal glory in Christ.
Suffering: What did God mean by “suffered for a little while” in 1 Peter 5:10?
First, I'd like to touch on sufferings. Guess what is the phrase in that key verse that I wanted an answer to the most? The most pressing [question] upon my heart when I thought of 1 Peter 5:10? What is the first question I asked God? The first question I asked God is “What is ‘a little while’?” It makes sense, right? So, I sought the commentaries. I researched the Bible. I prayed. The commentators were honest, they were fair. But they were also nebulous, meaning they're not that clear. What do I mean?
“A little while” they say, could mean that you suffer in this life for short season, and then you continue to live, and then you can continue to serve God. So that's one interpretation of “a little while”. Another interpretation, to be fair to the text, is that “a little while” could mean you would suffer all your life till death, and you’d be ushered into eternity with Christ. And in the light of eternity, your entire life of suffering is still “a little while”. So, guess which one I prefer? I think it's kind of obvious, right? I mean, I want to grow old with my wife. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that, right? I'm not asking for anything exceptional or immoral. I, like the rest of you, I would want to see my children grow up. Hopefully they find a good life partner, get married and have children of their own. The Chinese say, “bao soon” (carry a grandson) you know? I hope I can live to that day. And because one of my sons is here, he is getting teased for that. But that's life, right? That's his sufferings.
But I think those are very normal desires. That's [what] I struggled with. It's not I asked Him, God, [for] anything exceptional. But this [cancer] totally disrupted what I thought would be happening in my life. And it was difficult, it was painful to even think about it. Well-meaning, good intention, wise people who heard about it told me that cancer these days is not necessarily terminal. But I do not know at that point, because I have not [yet] received my scan results. Others encouraged me by telling me that, you know, there are so many stories of healing. God is mighty, He is able to heal. I believe that with all my heart, but I also know that there are those whom God chose not to heal. I do not know what is going to be my case. Others pointed to the excellence of medical science in Singapore and said, you know, it will be good, because you're in the best place for treatment. And I'm thankful, thankful for the excellent medical treatment and equipment here that you know is at the cutting edge. But again, cancer is cancer. I do not know. And so, I realize, even with this verse (1 Peter 5:10), as I came to the Lord in prayer and sought His mind, I have to submit to His will.
Submitting to the will of God, regardless of outcome
That weekend, my wife and I we talked a lot, we cried a lot. We, we struggled. And on Monday morning, after the diagnosis, it was [the time] we were going to see my surgeon and he's going to let us know the scan results: What stage of cancer it will be. And I remember that night, we hugged each other and we cried together. And my wife said, “I do not wish to be a widow at this young age.” And I thought, I don't wish you to be either. And we prayed, and I remember praying, saying, “Lord, I understand that Your love is demonstrated at the cross when You died for our sins.” I told the Lord, “But at this point in time, with what You have allowed us to go through, I don't,” I told Him, “I don't understand this love. I do not know how it applies. But yet, I trust You.” And I said to the Lord that night, I said, “Lord, You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You are the Author and Finisher of my faith. You are the life and the resurrection. 10:58 And, Lord, I, I fear You more than I fear this cancer.”
Strangely, though, we were in such grief, and uncertainty, and fear, and we had no answer nor solution, the Lord comforted our hearts. That night, we slept well. The next day, in the morning, very early, we went to see my surgeon, my doctor. He went through the scan results, and thankfully, it was not terminal. I was at stage three, right at the border of going terminal, but it was not. So, there is a hope for cure.
Suffering: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Now, normally, we would think that after you have made such a decision, you have committed yourself, you choose to fear God alone, and not cancer, that should be the end of the journey. And from now on, the music plays, and you are ushered into this beautiful “cruise”! And all is well... But that's not the case. And I hope you wouldn’t walk away thinking that just because you heard a message and you were touched, that that's the end of the journey. It is just the beginning.
It was the beginning for me. And so, I want to tell you now and talk to you about sufferings. Sufferings. Because after the diagnosis, after the results, after the commitment to fear God alone and not cancer, the pain began through the treatment. I went through [my] first radio and chemotherapy, and it was painful. The surgeon explained, “It is like an atomic bomb exploding at the site of the treatment, and you will be in great pain after that.” At first, I didn't understand that. When it happened, it was really bad. Then I went through a major surgery to remove the organ that had that tumor. After that, I went through a full regimen of chemotherapy. Each phase of it was a different kind of pain and suffering I could not imagine [ever] happening to my body. Never. I've never experienced it before. Some of you may be wondering and thinking like: “How could a loving God allow good people to suffer?” It's something we really struggle with. Because we think that love means “no pain”. But the truth is: The God of the Bible allows good people to suffer.
The Good Who Have Suffered
Think of Joseph in the Old Testament. He didn't do any wrong. And yet he was betrayed, he was sold to Egypt. And he suffered. He did right by his master in Egypt as a slave and yet he was maligned and thrown into prison. Think of David, the king of Israel, before he was king and how he was persecuted by Saul for more than a decade simply because Saul was jealous and insecure. Think of Daniel the prophet. And some of us may think that just because we are old, we should be spared. 14:23 But Daniel in his old age, even after he had lived so righteously before God, his colleagues got jealous of him. Schemed and plotted and got him thrown into the lions’ den. And the most famous example would be our Lord Jesus, the sinless, perfect Son of God, innocent of all sins. And yet, He suffered death on the cross for our sins. And the story continues even with the Apostle Paul. (Pastor Jason is going through the book of Corinthians) and you know, that he suffered a lot for serving God. He wasn't even running away. He wasn't being punished for his sins. So, God does allow good people to suffer.
But you see, when we talk about something like suffering, some of us, we just kind of “blank out”. Especially if we're not going through anything like that, because it's too painful and far away. But I want to lean in a bit more, and invite you to consider the subject. Now, some of you may have suffered a lot. More than what I've gone through. I've heard stories when I was going through my treatment of the kind of chemotherapy [others went] through. I'm like, “Thank God, I don't have to go through that! You know? I don't know how I will endure it.” Some of you may still be in suffering. Some of you, for you, [suffering] is far away.
But regardless of your relationship with pain and with suffering, the question is not really: “Who suffered more or less?” but “What has [suffering] done [for] you?”. Has it made you a better follower of Jesus? I think that is more important. Otherwise-, you know…
Has Your Suffering Made You a Better Follower of Jesus?
Some people, they brag about what they've achieved in life, you know? The property they bought, you know? The places they've been to. Some people, they brag about how much Bible knowledge they have. In church, how long they have served. Whom they know. And you know, those in suffering and pain? What do they brag about? How badly they have suffered! You know? There's no intrinsic value in suffering, isn't it? So, I hope that we don't end up [listening to] this message, competing and comparing: Who suffered more or less? Longer [or] shorter? I think there's no value in that. I hope we ask ourselves instead, if we have suffered, if we are suffering, has it made me a better follower of Jesus? Has it helped me draw closer to God? And that is what I asked God to do.
And the answer lies in the second word I want to talk to you about, which is “grace”. The key verse that God gave me reminds me that it is important to turn to the God of all grace. This is a beautiful description of God that Peter has offered to us - unique in his writings, to his writings. It tells us that God is the Giver, and He is the Source of every grace in our Christian life. It reminds us, it challenges us to turn to Him because no matter how intense our sufferings are, His grace is greater. No matter how great a variety of suffering you may have experienced in life, like a roller coaster - after this then it’s that, after that it’s this - His grace can meet every single need. But you'll see, when we talk about grace, there is a danger. The danger [of misunderstanding grace] is as Christians we think that God does everything, I'm passive. I just let it happen. Grace, right? Unmerited favor. No. God wants us to interact with His grace. So that's why in the key truth that I share with you, that I’ve learned in my journey, is that we must embrace the God of all grace. I choose this word deliberately. Because the word “embrace” tells us that we are to take it up readily, gladly. In other words, no one can force you to turn to God in your sufferings. That's why some people go through suffering and they just come out angry and bitter. Some will come up, just very proud that they survived it. And it didn't make them a better follower of Jesus. You see, if we want to be a better follower of Jesus, we need to embrace the God of all grace, we need to turn to Him. No matter what we're going through, no matter how great [or] how little [the suffering], don't dismiss [embracing the God of all grace]. Otherwise, we will not come out of it better. But we [may] come out of it bitter.
What Helped Me Embrace the God of All Grace?
I'd like to share with you, in my own experience, in my journey, how I embraced the God of all grace in my journey. First, I learned that I need to keep drawing nearer to God. I need to keep drawing nearer to God. He is there. His grace is available, but how can I access it? I thank God that throughout the journey of treatment, I was able to get up, have my breakfast for my physical strength. And after that, I opened my Bible to read it for my spiritual nourishment, most of the time. That is one way I accessed His grace: Through His Word. Now, I wouldn't say that I was able to do it every time because there were times I crashed physically. When I looked at the screen, my eyes blurred out. I didn’t have the strength to look at it for long. And I couldn't. But whenever I regained my strength after a few days, after a couple of weeks, I [would] come back. I want to keep drawing nearer to God.
Another way I draw near to God to embrace the God of all grace is to pray to Him. You know, we see in a lot of pictures: you kneel down by your bedside, whether adult or children, and put your hands together, very pious, you know? The picture! So, I did that too. I knelt by my bedside, and I tried to pray. But after a while, I found that my knees began to hurt. Because when you're going through treatment, your skin wears off and tears off [easily]. It's not a nice thing to experience. But that happened. And so, what I did was, wow, it hurt too much to kneel by the bed. So, I couldn’t have that picture of piety, praying to God. So, I decided to lie on the bed. Rest of my body and pray, and guess what happened? I fell asleep. Too tired. So, since that didn't work, I decided, I was going to sit on my bed and try to pray. But when I saw my bed and tried to pray, my mind began to wander. And I [would] pick up my phone and I began to look at other things. And it didn't work for me either. I was also encouraged to keep on walking. And so, in my own place, I would, I would walk, do steps in my home. And as I did the steps in my home and walked in my home, back and forth, back and forth, I found that I could focus better and pray. So, I kept drawing nearer to God.
Keep Drawing Nearer to God
Because if this didn't work, I tried to find another means. If that didn't work, I did [something else]. I didn't say, “Wow, like that cannot! Just give up!” Why? Because I want to embrace the God of all grace. He is there for me, but I have to draw near to Him. And honestly, there were times when I was so beaten up, tired, down emotionally, that I couldn’t do any of this. Then I would just add songs of worship and praise to my playlists on my phone, plug in my earphones and just listen to those songs and let those songs remind me of who God is, and of how great and gracious He is. And just worship Him the best I could know how. So, draw near to God.
Keep Turning to God
But the second thing I learned about embracing the God of grace is to keep turning to God, to keep turning to God. When you are in pain. When you're in suffering. The truth is you will be frustrated, you will be disappointed. Things are not going to pan out the way others tell you or [how] you imagine, like you pray, and then “Voila!”. You know? That [prayer] is answered and [now] you can give thanks... I mean, that's nice in a story. But that's not true, at least in my experience.
I went through six cycles of chemotherapy. Except for the first cycle, [in] every single cycle, something happened. Sometimes it was so severe that we almost had to rush down to A&E, but thankfully, we didn't have to do that. 23:54
But I prayed. I had asked God for minimal to no side effect. And [yet] for some reason, He didn't seem to want to answer that prayer. He allowed me to have quite a bit of side effects. Some new ones every cycle and some old ones coming back! Over and over again. Though I had prayed so hard! I prayed for deliverance, but there was no deliverance. Did I give up? No. I kept turning to Him and said, “Lord, since You're not going to deliver me, now help me to endure it. Help me to endure it. It's discouraging. It's frustrating. I'm disappointed at the outcome. But help me to endure it.”
It reached the point where I was just thankful to God that I was okay – [for] today. I just want to be thankful to God that at least today is good. Yesterday was bad. Thank God that today's good. I do not know about tomorrow. I can't think that far now with all these chemicals going through my body. But I'm just thankful that I'm okay, today. Keep turning to God. Don't give into your frustration and disappointment. Don't keep trying to get God to do what you want. Ask God to help you with what is happening now. And that's what I did to embrace the God of all grace.
Keep Away from Self-Centred Thinking
The third thing I learned, is to keep away from self-centered thinking. You know? Whether in blessings or in suffering. The fallen and sanctified human heart wants to find a reason why things are good. Because of me, because of self. Maybe because my physical constitution [is] very strong [it] wouldn't happen. Or because my thoughts are good, I'm very positive in my thinking. Everything is about me. And so, when we do that, even in drawing nearer to God, you may end up thinking, “Wow, God blessed you! You know, because your Bible knowledge is so good! God blessed you, because so many years you have served God!” You know? The Chinese say: “Mei You Gong Lau Ye You Ku Lau” (your effort and suffering should count for something). So that's why you can endure.
So, we find all kinds of reasons why I'm doing well. And I learned that those are all very self-centered thoughts. Because honestly, there are times I do well, and most of the time, I don't do well. I don't feel spiritual, I can't do spiritual things. I feel lousy about myself, I feel lousy about my life. I feel lousy about what's going on right now. But I thank God that He is still with me because He's the God of all grace. He is not journeying with me, because I'm good. He is comforting, encouraging and strengthening me because He is good. And if I keep embracing Him, not because of what I think I can contribute, to earn His favor, I find that I can rest in the understanding that even when I cannot perform today, He still loves me. And He will still be with me.
So, I could stay away from self-centered thoughts. I'm also very grateful for my sisters. When they heard the news, they took turns every week to cook, home-cooked nourishing food for me to help me in my treatment. And there was one week when my one of my sisters came and she looked at me. And she made this comment. She said, “You seem to be taking it quite well.” And I thought to myself, “I'm taking it quite well? You got see inside? The kind of frustration, disappointment, longings, struggles? Get me out of this!” You know? I don't feel that I'm taking it well at all. But she went on to say - because she's years older than me, maybe she has met more people, she has seen more cases like this - she said to me, “Not everybody is taking it like the way you do.” And I talked to myself, “It's not because I'm feeling good. It's not because I’ve got a handle on this. It is because of the God of all grace.” That yes, it's bad. But it could be worse. I could be wallowing in misery, self-pity, dark thoughts, bitterness, anger, frustration with everyone, including God. You know? And it could be worse. But because of His grace, I thank God that I seemed, and I hoped I was taking it well.
The third word I like you to consider in this verse, in my journey is “glory”. What does grace in suffering lead to? The Scripture tells us that it leads us to His glory. Let's see what it says. The Bible tells us (1 Peter 5:10): “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ - ”. You see? What is the purpose of all this suffering? We will ask ourselves: “Why? What does [suffering] achieve?” And I learned and found out that it achieves the same goal as my salvation. And that's really the amazing thing. That's nothing new. It's not like God has one agenda for salvation. And another set of agenda for people who suffer. No, it's the same. When you suffer, He is calling you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus. When He saved you, He is calling you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus. And I found that the lessons that I'm learning are actually the same lessons that are being taught in church. I have learned that the same truth that I myself preach from the pulpit, now I get to apply and see it in a new light. That's nothing new. It's the same goal. It's the same goal. And that goal is His eternal glory.
Now when we think of the word “glory”, we would consider it in ordinary terms and sense of something that is unapproachable. Like the prophet Isaiah, when he saw the glory of the Lord, he said, “Woe is me! I'm undone! I'm a man of unclean lips.” Unapproachable. [Glory] is not something that we can, in local speech, “suka suka” (do whatever we want) walk in, you know, and say “Hi God! How are You?” Cannot? It's, it's very scary. It's awesome. In fact, we read in the Old Testament [that] when the glory of God descended on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel didn't say, “Wow, so exciting! Like an amusement park. Walk in! Take a look!” No. They told Moses, “Moses, you go. You go. We don't dare to go.” [God’s glory] is unapproachable. It is scary. But yet, in this verse, the Scripture tells us that God in Christ Jesus is calling us to approach Him. Come forward. Come in. Come now. And the apostle Peter may be thinking of the glory of the Lord he saw at the Mount of Transfiguration. Like a cloud that descended over him. It's indefinable and amazing. But he could also, at the same time, be thinking of the glory of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ when He beckoned him and the other apostles with his nail-pierced hands, by the Sea of Galilee at the beach as they came over. “Now, breakfast is ready. Come and dine with Me.” No longer indefinable, but as clear and as personal as the nail-pierced hands of our Lord Jesus. His eternal glory.
So, what I have learned is that my suffering, when I embrace the God of all grace, is [meant] to bring me to His glory. Not my comfort. Not even necessarily, my healing and recovery. That no matter what is the outcome, I'm supposed to draw nearer to God, to lay hold of his nail-pierced hands in the midst of my sufferings, and to find out more about [whom] He is, and what He wants to do in my life. Today, the glory of the Lord is the revealed attributes of God. Now that sounds like very “cheem” (esoteric) and deep. But it simply means that you get to know more about His love. You get to know more about His holiness. You get to know more about His redemption. You get to know more about what He says about this life and the life that is to come. That this [present life] is not eternal. There's something more on the way. And that is what He wants us to enter into, in our salvation and also, in our sufferings, His eternal glory in Christ.
What God Can Do in Our Suffering: “restore”
Now, usually, in a sermon like this, when your cover three points, you expect it to end, right? Sufferings – Grace - Glory, done. However, Peter is not done. It almost seems as if after he has talked about all this [on suffering, grace and glory], he got so excited that he begins to write even more. And throughout in rapid succession, four verbs tell us what God will do when you understand this truth. That God is going to do something! He's not sitting on the sidelines, just watching you, watching me. [To] see whether we are, you know, naughty or nice? Good or bad? No, He's not doing that. He's involved. And so, because Peter is not done. I'm not done yet. So, we're not going to close the service as yet. There's more to go. Hang in there with me. All right? If you are good, I will be short. I'm just kidding!
Okay, let's hear now. What else Peter has to say? He says that if we understand this, then you're going to find that God will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. The word “restore” here is a word that Peter will probably be very familiar with, because it refers to “mending the nets”. As a fisherman, before he was called to follow Jesus, he would constantly be mending the nets, to restore them to the place of usefulness, so that he could cast them out again, and begin fishing again. So probably with that picture in mind, he's saying, “You know what? You are going through all this, and you're embracing the God of all grace. And you're entering into His eternal glory, understanding more of who God is, and what He wants to do. I want you to know this, when you do that, God Himself will restore you.” Now, don't get it wrong, [restoration] is not physical, necessarily. Of course, if God were to restore me and miraculously let what was surgically removed from my body grow back, I'm more than thankful. But that's not what [Peter’s] talking about.
And so, I applied this [understanding of ‘restoration’] to my service. I said, “God, I'm going to go through a lot. I'm going to suffer physical loss and I pray that after it's over, if You allow me to live on, please restore me to a place of service.” I don't know what shape and form I will turnout. It all depends on how my body responds to treatment, whether there's any spread, etc. There's a lot of uncertainty. But I’d say like, Joni Eareckson Tada. She was paralyzed from the waist down since age of 18, or 19. “And yet, through all her sufferings, You restored her to a place of service and allow her to old age, to give witness to Your grace and truth. You can do that for me too. If You want to, please restore.”
I think of Nick Vujicic, who was born with no hands and limbs. And he was so frustrated and discouraged and disappointed with life he wanted to kill himself. But God had mercy on him. [Nick] embraced the God of all grace. He was led into the eternal glory of Christ. And while he remained in this unrestored physical state, God restored him to a place of service. And I said, “Lord, allow me to serve You, in whatever form and shape.” And I thank God that today, I see a bit of that restoration.
What God Can Do in Our Suffering: “confirm”
Secondly, the Bible tells us that God Himself will confirm. To “confirm”, in the original text, means to turn resolutely in the right direction. And I applied this to my faith. You see, before my sufferings, I know I want to trust Him, but I do not know if I really trust Him. Think about this. Faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. You know why? Because until something happens, you don't know whether you would still trust Him. It is still just a matter of what you think what the Bible says - how you feel God would deal with you... But when things go south, not according to your imagination, and yet, in your disappointment you choose to trust God, then you know your faith is real. And so, I prayed, “God, please confirm my faith. I do not know how I will respond. This is painful. This is discouraging. My entire future is uncertain. I will not live normally anymore, after all the treatment and surgery. But God help me to keep trusting You. Confirm my faith, that I can. No, I am not trusting You only for good things in life. But I'm trusting You even when You allow my life to fall apart. Help me please do this.” I apply [ the word ‘confirm’] to my faith.
What God Can Do in Our Suffering: “strengthen”
Third, the Scripture says that He will strengthen us. The word “strengthen” here is unique to the New Testament, only appearing here once. The only other place it appears is in the Old Testament in the book of Job, where in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it refers to the strength of lions. With courage, with vigor in commitment to God. And so, I apply this to my relationship with God. And I told the Lord, I said, “Lord, I'm going through so much that I cannot understand or imagine. I do not know how I will respond. But please let me come out of this with a strong and good relationship with You. Help me to continue loving You as I should. Please don't let what happened keep me away from You, [or] push me away from You, or cause me to be cold and distant about Your word and Your truth. Please strengthen me. Strengthen my relationship with You.”
What God Can Do in Our Suffering: “establish”
And finally, Peter says that God Himself will establish you. And that word speaks of picking up the broken fragments of our life, and laying them down on a firm foundation. And I applied to my calling to advance the Gospel with my brethren today. And I said, “Lord, after all that has happened to me, please allow me to contribute, to be a part of what You want to do today to advance the Gospel. Establish our weakness for You.”
Misunderstanding God’s Glory Hurts Those Who Suffer
If you [will] notice with me, these [blessings] are all spiritual, not physical. It's amazing after my diagnosis, how many texts, calls, incidences of cancer I read about- people who have the same unexpected experience. One case, in particular, a close relative of my wife, who is a Christian, [had] been very concerned for me and had been praying for me, reaching out in the past year. But earlier this year, she herself was diagnosed with late-stage terminal pancreatic cancer. Just shocking how life turns around like that for her! She's in her late 60s. As a believer, the Lord has, amazingly given her peace about her situation. It is incurable. It has already spread. Even if she goes to treatment, she will still pass on. So, she chose not to have treatment. And after my own treatment was completed, I had the strength to visit her in the hospital where she was in palliative care, which means that she was just waiting to pass on in life. And I remember that afternoon, when my wife and I came in to visit, she was all worked up in an extremely irritable state. She was angry. Imagine this lady. Lost so much weight because she couldn't eat for weeks. Down to [her] bones and skin. And yet she was so agitated. And she began to pour her heart and share what had happened to her the day before.
What happened was that a Christian friend came to visit her and told her that she didn't have faith. If she had faith, she would be healed. And [my relative was] sitting down there trying to tell her, “I'm getting ready to die.” But [the friend] didn't want to hear that. She kept on insisting that [my relative] didn't have faith. And then she pointed to her own example, because she also had cancer, that “I had faith. and God healed me. But you don't have faith. That's why you're like that! You just need to have faith.” And [my relative] was all agitated. It was very sad to hear that for me. Because this Christian lady who could be of comfort, because she didn't understand the glory of God, restricted and limited [God’s glory] to only physical healing. So, when she came in to see this lady who's already going to die, she simply discredited and missed the glory that God was revealing in her life. That peace that surpasses all understanding, that confidence and hope that she was going to a Christ-filled eternity was all lost on her. And so instead of bringing comfort she brought distress.
Closing Thoughts and Prayer
You see the same thing happens to us in our lives. If we misunderstand the glory of God, it will limit [glory] to only a certain formula. You do this, you get that. If this didn't happen, it is because you didn't have enough of faith or prayer or whatever! Then you will be disappointed because God allows sufferings into our lives to bring us into His eternal glory. You see, the nature of suffering is that no matter how big or small, it can cause us to be confused. It can make us frightened. It can cause us to withdraw from life and even give up on our faith. Because it's painful, otherwise it wouldn't be called suffering. But [what] I want to tell you all today is that I’ve found out that it need not be so. It need not be so.
Yes, there will still be unexpected changes. Yes, there will still be pain that has to be endured. But what I found [out] is that sufferings that embrace the God of all grace, lead to His eternal glory in Christ. And so, I hope today that no matter what you have already gone through, what you're going through right now, and what you may be going through in the future, big or small, that your suffering will make you better and not bitter. And that you will continue to follow Jesus well.
Let's pray, “Our Father in heaven, we thank You so much for this day. I thank You for Your grace, Your mercy, and Your love. I think sometimes we cannot fully understand all that You want to do. Because, like it or not, we think in material, physical terms. And the spiritual truths are just theoretical until You make it real in our hearts. So, I pray, Lord, that You would make Your truth real in our hearts so that we would embrace it, to follow You better. I pray, Lord, that for those who may be struggling, in pain, in whatever form, shape or size or length, that if they find themselves growing away from You, today, they will turn back to You. I pray Lord for those who are holding on but it feels like it's too much to bear, that God, You would comfort their hearts and give them the strength to endure. And may all that we experience in life point to Your eternal glory in Christ so that we can, as a people, witness to the truth that we are living and seeking that which is invisible and eternal, and not just what this world will alone offers and that no matter what happens to us, our family and friends will see that we are still trusting You, loving You, following You. And may that witness cause them to consider the amazing grace in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank You. We ask all this in Jesus name, Amen.
More Episodes from Pastor Chee Keen Seethor:
27 Oct 2019
25 Dec 2018
09 Dec 2018
02 Dec 2018
30 Mar 2018
24 Dec 2017
31 Oct 2017
03 Sep 2017
Episodes from other sermons:
12 Mar 2023
25 Dec 2022
20 Dec 2022
11 Dec 2022
04 Dec 2022
27 Nov 2022
20 Nov 2022
15 Apr 2022