As I have previously shared with you, during my recent back surgery, the surgeon spotted something that concerned him enough to take a biopsy and the biopsy revealed I had cancer.
Our doctors in Atlanta were concerned I couldn’t start treatment until fully healing from the back surgery. However, since then we have been able to consult with doctors at the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Truly, God did a miracle in getting me here, literally a day or two just before they had to close to treating any patients outside of Texas. My doctor, a Sarcoma specialist, feels confident in starting a regimen of chemotherapy and we have begun that. Since this treatment is coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, I will remain here in Houston for the next few months until I finish chemotherapy. I am so grateful that both my wife, Margie, and daughter Naomi can be here with me. God has given me the best doctor, and I look forward to gradually seeing this disease mend.
The Bible assures us that at all times God is with us. He is our comforter; He is our healer. He is our physician; He is our provider. He knows better than we do. While some nights have been painful, my heart has been at rest that this is all God’s plan. I want to get better; I want to be well. I want to be in His will and honouring to Him.
As I listen to the news, I have heard many commentators and government leaders say that we are living in a time of war with an unseen enemy, this terrible pandemic that has swept through the globe. We are facing uncertain times, and I pray for all those in need.
When I think of war, I think of my days in Vietnam, where there was so much uncertainty and fear. When I was twenty-five years old, I was invited to speak there, hosted by my denomination, The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Two stories from Vietnam remind me that at all times God is with us. On one occasion, I was being driven from Dalat to Saigon by a missionary named George Irwin. En route, our car started to sputter and chug and died on us. Ironically, minutes before, George’s wife, Harriet, had said to all of us in the car, “We are about to go through the most dangerous part of the country.”
I wondered why on earth she was telling us this now. Couldn’t she have waited ‘til we had passed through it? Nevertheless, there we were, stuck on the highway in the most dangerous part of the country, trying to figure out what was wrong with our jeep.
Suddenly, a white car came speeding down the road. We tried to stop it for some help by waving our white handkerchiefs. The man driving the car just swerved it around us and increased his speed even more to avoid stopping. A few minutes went by, and George tried the ignition again and the car started, much to our relief.
As we drove a couple of miles down the road, we saw that the white car had been ambushed. The wounded and dying were on the side of the road, and the Viet Cong were running away in the distance. They had been waiting to ambush the next vehicle to come along, and that happened to be it. If our car had not broken down, it would have been us.
God has an appointed time for all of us. His protection and security is ours ‘til that moment comes when it’s “closing time.”
Another story from Vietnam probably stirs my confidence in God’s sovereignty and the power of his Word more than any other. When I was ministering there, one of my interpreters was Hien Pham, a young Christian. Sometime after I left, Vietnam fell and Hien was imprisoned. His jailers tried to indoctrinate him against the Christian faith and restricted him to Communist propaganda in French and Vietnamese.
The propaganda began to take its toll. “Maybe,” he thought, “I have been lied to. Maybe God does not exist.” So Hien determined that when he awoke the next day, he would not pray or think of his faith anymore.
The next morning, Hien was assigned to clean the prison latrines. There he found a scrap of refuse paper with apparent English script. He hurriedly grabbed it and washed it. Later that night, startled and trembling, he read these words from Romans 8: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him… For I am convinced that [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verses 28 and 38). Hien wept knowing there was not a more relevant passage for one on the verge of surrendering to a false doctrine.
Hien later escaped the country, again through the course of God’s amazing hand. He has since shared his testimony with many, confident that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
I have absolutely no doubt that God stops and orders our steps in his sovereign will and grace. The Jesus I know and love today I encountered at the age of seventeen on a bed of suicide. I came to him unsure about the future. I remain with him certain about my destiny.
When we are face to face with God, we will find out how many were the potential catastrophes from which He saved us. Every pain and wound is part of His sovereign plan for us. He is the ultimate guardian over every breakdown. He alone can be our protection. At all times, God is with us.
The above was first posted in Just Thinking Magazine, Atlanta.