A brother in Christ and fellow pastor, David Beck, has cancer. Pancreatic Cancer. He was first diagnosed more than 16 months ago now and has been undergoing excruciating, ongoing treatments.
Back in December of 2017 when called to serve a church outside of Seattle from Sacramento, he arrived, preached a couple times, began to feel too exhausted to name, and in going to the doctor got this diagnosis. So, he had been doing the right thing, following God, obeying, showing up, being faithful, and the result, cancer. Sometimes the facts of life leave one mystified.
The unanswered questions can leave a person numb.
Circumstances can thwart us. But through this 16 months David has been posting on the Caring Bridge site in a blog that has now reached well over 50,000 readers. Week by week, through the struggles and impossibilities of his circumstances, he has simply shared his heart, his faith, and his determination to simply live every day as fully as he can, even if his last day is upcoming ahead of schedule.
So far, David is still alive. It is a marvel. It is like he is sitting in this jailhouse called cancer yet still praying, still praising, still believing, and certainly still sharing his love for Jesus.
This week, on Sunday, we will share in a passage, from Acts 16, in which a circumstance which looking in from the outside we would have to admit is dreadful leads to more people hearing about Jesus than ever would have otherwise. Although we only read of one family converting as a result, the overflow of this one must have been massive. Crowds had witnessed a miracle -- and even though this had been covered by false cries, still, God had moved in their midst. A slave girl had experienced the power of God over her life. Prisoners had witnessed the newest arrivals not yelling with anger or crying out in pain, but singing and praying, all of which they were listening to.
Read Acts 16 this week and look at Paul and Silas and wonder with me what we might learn about them that they chose praise and prayer over self pity or despair! They could have felt betrayed by God in this little circumstance, but you don’t see this. They could have chosen to complain, but didn’t. They could have said, “Hey, we are doing the right thing here,” but they don’t. What we do see is a choice in the midst of a circumstance. That choice made the difference.
What impact might those praises have had on those “listening in” prisoners?
How might the jailer’s life and his family’s life have been altered because of this imprisonment?
What was that midnight baptism like as Paul presided over his and his family’s baptisms?
This story reminds me that we are partners with God in this grand adventure and everything, not just the good stuff, is used so that God can be made more visible through our lives. It also reminds me of this: that I’m being observed all the time. And whatever I might imagine, when I come and go, when I speak and listen, my life is on display and others are watching to see how I respond, and what I say from the circumstances of my life. Perhaps, just perhaps, we could remember just two things of how Paul and Silas chose to follow in their circumstances to impact our own. Rather than anything else, rather then defensiveness or anger, in response to horrendous treatment, they prayed and praised. Perhaps this week, no matter your circumstances, you could choose the same and see what kinds of earthquakes shake your world for good.