I hate mornings.
But every day I force myself to get out of bed before my kids wake up, so I can drink some coffee, read my Bible, and have some peace and quiet before the craziness of the day begins.
When I do this, my morning – and by extension, the rest of my day – gets off on the right foot!
This morning, I finished up the book of Genesis and read one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It is one I always seem to forget about until it is right there in front of me. Then I am reminded of the awesome goodness of God!
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”Genesis 50:20
In its context, Joseph is talking to his brothers who were worried that he would retaliate for being sold as a slave by them years earlier, now that their father had died. Here, Joseph assures them that he forgave them long ago, and reminded them that God was in control of the situation and used their evil actions for the ultimate good of His people.
Yet, every time I read this verse, I can’t help but think of cancer.
I can’t think of many things that cause as much harm as cancer.
Cancer strikes without warning. Often, without cause. It does not care if you are the CEO of your company. It doesn’t care if you are unemployed. It doesn’t care if you have children. It doesn’t even care if you are a child.
Cancer is a thief. It takes your health. It takes your independence. It takes your finances. It takes your hair. It takes your fertility. It takes your strength. It takes your relationships. It takes your time.
Cancer kills. It kills healthy cells in your body. It kills your energy. It kills your joy. Sometimes, it kills people.
What an evil disease.
When faced with such a diagnosis, it is natural to despair.
In the Bible, when Joseph was sold into slavery, it would have been natural for him to give into despair.
And maybe he did. There are no biblical accounts of it, but who knows. Maybe he did have a few days where he questioned the goodness and the wisdom of God. After all, just before he was sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph had a dream that one day he would rule over them. As a slave, that dream must have seemed impossible.
Sometimes, it is easy to let our current circumstances influence what we think is possible. Sometimes, we let our dreams die because we can’t see a way out.
Sometimes, when something intends to harm us……we allow it to.
But what if God really does intend it for good?
Can any good come from cancer?
This is something I have found myself questioning lately. In the last month at Maple Tree, we have had 3 patients lose their battle with cancer.
And we are taking it pretty hard.
Honestly, I have found myself angry about it. It just seems so unfair. So wrong. So…not the way it should be.
The other morning, I was thinking about the most recent patient we lost – a woman who was my age. She had a little boy. She had a family who loved her. She had lots of friends and a cool job. All in all, she had a seemingly wonderful life.
I found myself feeling sad and angry, and maybe even a little guilty about the whole thing. Why should I get to kiss my children good night when she never will be able to again? It just didn’t seem fair.
That is when it hit me. If things were reversed, and it was me who had lost my battle with cancer….would I want others feeling that way? Would I want people feeling sad, and mad, and guilty, and disconnected from their family, friends, and God?
Of course not!! Because that is letting the cancer win!
When we live joyfully and love our lives and the people we share it with, God wins!
So what good is God bringing about through cancer?
Maybe tonight, rather than checking out on your phone before bed, you take time to connect with your spouse. Maybe you give your children a little extra grace when they ask you the same exact question for the zillionth time. Maybe you smile at a stranger. Maybe you pause to count your numerous blessings before responding in anger. Maybe you give generously. Laugh loudly. Love freely.
Live Out Loud.
Maybe then you can understand what Joseph meant when he said that God was able to bring good out of the very thing meant to harm him.