Lazarus lessons for the cancer warrior

For those who have never been exposed to or experienced cancer, the news that a loved one or close friend (or heaven forbid … yourself) has been diagnosed with cancer sounds like a death knell.  Yet to those previously exposed to or in the midst of cancer … they find themselves in a battle … a battle that awakens them to life … both temporal and eternal … oftentimes more eternal.  Also, they frequently realize that in the midst of the cancer they have found God’s blessing.

Today God is reminding me of these truths through …

  • A visit to the oncologist … but only for a port flush … I am 16 weeks into a 24 week break from chemo … all because God has control of my cancer … all praise and glory to Him!
  • A 45 minute conversation with a beloved brother in my small group (Bill) who is in the midst of his seventh year of God’s blessing in a battle with multiple myeloma … and he does indeed call it a blessing throughout his remarkable testimony … even with a recently diagnosed broken foot … thank you Jesus!
  • The conviction and teaching of the Holy Spirit regarding the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead.

And on that final point, you just can’t help but wonder about the testimony Lazarus would have had (and continues to have to this day) and what impact it would have had on those around him.  Let’s look at a few highlights from John 11:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  vs. 1-4 (ESV)

This illness does not lead to death.
It is for the glory of God.
So that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

As a cancer warrior … I so get these points … and I so need to be reminded of them … and I so need to praise and thank God for His incredible blessing and miraculous touch!

Continue …

After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” …                    Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.  vs. 11-15,17

What Jesus does in the midst of illness is so that those suffering and those who witness it may believe … I so know that firsthand!

But what are they called to believe?

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  vs. 25-17

Jesus wept … as do many cancer warriors and caretakers … and then He set about the work that the Father had given Him …

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”  So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”  When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  vs. 38-44

Yes, if you believe … you will see the glory of God … be it in this world or the next!  And the people who see the work of God in your life, must be told about Jesus that they too may believe IN Him!

So what was the impact of this miracle?

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed IN him (Jesus) … vs 45

So from that day on they (the Pharisees) made plans to put him (Jesus) to death. Vs 53

This is probably a good place to add … therefore fulfilling the Law and the Prophets … and God’s plan for the world!

So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him (Jesus) at table.  John 12:2 (ESV)

Going thru illness and suffering with Jesus … or perhaps experiencing the miraculous healing of God’s hand … draws you closer to God … and you find yourself … much like Lazarus … sitting at the feet of Jesus more and more often … yes, indeed!

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  John 12:9 (ESV)

Never underestimate the power of personal testimony … the people came to see Jesus AND to see the work Christ was doing in Lazarus!

So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well,  because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.  John 12:10-11 (ESV)

Because of the testimony of Lazarus, many believed IN Jesus … and he found himself as a target of the enemy!  He and his testimony were both a threat to the work of the enemy …

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.   The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  John 12:17-18 (ESV)

The testimony of Lazarus and what Jesus had done became a part of the crowd’s witness … and it motivated them to continue to follow Jesus!

Thank you Father God for what you are teaching me through this biblical account of Lazarus.

Oh Lord, thank you for the incredible blessing of cancer and for this season in which I am experiencing your miraculous touch … may you be glorified and may others come to believe IN You through what you are doing IN me!

Bernie

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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