Cancer and the New Testament Scholar

One of the great mysteries of this fallen world is the paradox of faithful believers who experiences the ravages of sickness, while many in rebellion against God live in seeming prosperity. Yet, though a strange phenomenon, this tension is nothing new to the people of God, for texts such as Psalm 73 wrestle with this very issue.

Engulfed in the weariness of hardship, the psalmist questions whether he has sought obedience in vain (vs. 13). For, faithfulness to God’s law hardly produced the life of ease enjoyed by the wicked, who, though they set their mouths against heaven (vs. 9),  are free from pangs until death. The contrast between the two, at first, appears to render godliness as a fool’s errand, as it does not stay the suffering of this life. But upon entry into the presence of Yahweh, a clear perspective is elucidated.

Though the wicked appear to prosper, their end is ruin (vs. 18-20), but those beloved by Yahweh are comforted by his sustaining presence. The language employed by the psalmist depicts the intimacy and joy found in his walk with his God. He concludes the Psalm by reiterating the blessing of dwelling near to God his refuge, telling of his glorious works (vs 28).

Just yesterday, New Testament scholar Rod Decker posted a personal note regarding an update in his battle with cancer. It appears that a recent diagnosis has shown the cancer to be more widespread and aggressive than originally had been anticipated. Yet rather than despair, his response to the news is encouraging, as he states,

Should God see fit to spare me at any point in the process, either through medical intervention or supernaturally, I shall be grateful and know that my work here was not yet finished. If, on the other hand, you should hear in the years ahead that God has seen fit in his sovereign providence to take me home, then you will know that what he gave me to do here was finished.

Such a perspective should serve as a reminder for Christians enduring a season of suffering that God has purposed good for those he has called to himself.

Yet the question remains: why does God allow those used in the advance of the gospel to fall to sickness or tragedy? Though we may not fully know the sovereign purpose of God in this life, we can take heart that the big picture is nothing less than glorious.

Continue to pray for Rod Decker as he presses on in life and ministry in this time of hardship. You can read the rest of his post here.


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