I lost another friend this last week due to a long term illness. He battled cancer for the last couple of years and even though he was going through a rough situation he always kept a positive outlook. As I have ministered to my friend while he went through the trial of this illness there was one verse from the Bible that continually came to my heart. For me it is one which perfectly describes the way that he has handled himself. The verse is found in 1 Corinthians 16:13. Paul is closing a letter to the church at Corinth and he writes these words.
1 Cor 16:13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
Paul wrote these words to the church because they were facing difficult and stressful times. The church faced persecution from people who did not share the same faith. The church faced trials and tribulations from those who would oppress them, take away their land and even take away their lives. The church faced trouble not only from the outside but they faced trouble from the inside. There were false teachers and people with agendas who only wanted to serve in order to promote themselves. There were other people who constantly found fault with others and who always found some way to stir the pot. For the people of Corinth life was full of stress and struggle, trials and trouble. Paul’s message to the church was that in the midst of these situations they were to be strong in the faith! Now when I say Paul wrote to the church, it makes it sound too clinical, too distant, and too detached. We have to remember that when Paul was writing to the church, Paul was writing to believers. And we have to remember that when Paul was writing to believers, Paul was writing to us. You see just like the folks who lived 2,000 years ago in Corinth, our lives can also be filled with stress and struggle, trials and troubles. Our lives can have headaches and heartaches too. Sometimes the trouble comes from people on the outside; people that you expect to act up and act out but sometimes the trouble comes from people who are close to you, people who ought to know better, and people who have no business acting a fool. Paul’s message to us in the midst of all our stress, in the middle of all of our trouble no matter where it comes from is BE STRONG IN THE FAITH!
I was so impressed with how strong my friend was. When he was first diagnosed with his illness, he said, “I am going to do my best to fight it.” He decided to fight and fight he did. Even in the last couple of weeks when the doctors only gave him a day or two he held on so much longer. Now, when I see somebody so strong like that I want to know how they do it. You can say that is because they have a strong resolve. You can say it is because they are tough and that is just how they are wired. Now, there is a lot of truth to that. You can accomplish a lot with resolve and determination. But even tough people with a strong resolve break every now and then. I remember a few months back that my friend broke. He had been undergoing chemo therapy and radiation treatments at the same time and it was tough. It was taking a toll on him physically, mentally and emotionally. One day when he was feeling sick he looked outside and saw his wife mowing his yard. Now while some men would not mind that, it made him mad. That was his job and his way to get away from things and relieve stress and now his wife was mowing the yard!
The cancer had taken away a lot of things from him. It had taken away his ability to work, it had taken away his ability to spend quality time with his family and now this stupid nasty illness had taken away his ability to mow the yard. Oh, he was mad. He was so mad that he decided to give up. He stayed home from his treatment and didn’t go to the doctor that day; he just stayed in the bed and fumed. I called him a couple of days later at lunch time and he told me about it. He told me how mad he was. And he told me how he got over it. He told me that he figured if the Lord was going to give him the strength to get out of bed, the Lord was going to give him the strength to go to the doctor. He decided he was going to stay strong and keep fighting. My friend’s strength came from the Lord. The Bible says in Psalm 121:
1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. 8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.
Yes my friend’s help came from the Lord. The Lord strengthened him. The Lord helped him to fight. The Lord helped him to be an awesome husband. The Lord helped him to be a wonderful father. The Lord helped him to be a great son-in-law. The Lord strengthened him for every task and when he passed from this world the Lord ushered him into His kingdom! The Lord God, maker of Heaven and earth strengthens His children.
Where does your strength come from? Does it come from your own resolve? Does it come from your own strength? If it does then some day it shall fail, some day you shall break. But if your strength comes from the Lord you can know that it will never end. The Lord will protect you, He will keep your soul forever and ever.