In two weeks my calendar will mark four years since I first heard the words, “You have cancer.” I want to thank all of my friends and readers who have followed this journey with me. Last week I shared about my extreme fear when faced with a recent scare—a questionable mammogram that sent me into a tailspin of depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. It has been two weeks since I heard the news that the spot they found was not cancer, and I am still coming out of the fog. It has been a huge risk for me to reveal my real, raw, honest self. I have hoped through all my writings and ramblings that people would see a woman of faith who certainly doesn’t have it all together, but who believes in a perfect and holy God. I have hoped that people would see Jesus a bit more clearly as they read about my struggles, pain, doubts, joys and triumphs. I have hoped that people would have grasped that living a life with Jesus does not mean immunity from suffering or pain, despite the lies they have heard from pulpits across the world. I have hoped that people would find the truth of the gospel-- that we cannot do anything to earn God’s grace, that following Jesus is not a transaction of “If I do this, He will give me that.” We can’t worship enough, tithe enough, pray enough, or study the Bible enough to earn our way to God. It isn’t earned. It is freely given.
Believing in and following Jesus is relational. It is about being known by the King of the World and being chosen by the Creator of the Universe. It is about being accepted where you are without having to clean yourself up or be in the “perfect place.” It is about being so loved by the almighty God that he humbled himself and came to earth only to die on a cross for me and you. It is about a God so amazing that he can outlive death and so powerful that he can resurrect himself. It is about Jesus, our advocate who wants us to have life, both abundant and eternal. It is about an omnipotent God who desires a deep and personal relationship with each of us. The only transaction was the one made on the cross at Calvary when we were redeemed through the death of Jesus.
I am not immune from cancer or anxiety or depression or fear because I believe in Jesus. Christians suffer. They experience great tragedy. I have friends—strong in their faith in Jesus—who have buried their infant children, who have chronic illness, who have broken marriages and severed relationships with family members. I have friends—strong in their faith in Jesus—who face depression, who battle financial woes, who have been hurt, abandoned, raped and abused. Jesus himself told us, “In this world you will have trouble….” But he finishes it with this: “but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
Following Jesus doesn’t promise an easy life or material comforts; it doesn’t promise well- mannered children, a happy marriage or financial success. Following Jesus promises Jesus. Period.
Each day that I wake up and God has chosen to give me another day of life, I GET JESUS. Not fortune, not fame, certainly not my own glory. I get Jesus. So when I go through periods of doubt, fear, anxiety, illness, depression—I am not told by God that I need to pull myself out of it, that I need to be better, stronger, or smarter—I am told by God this promise: “You get Jesus.” When my friends who love Jesus go through trials and sadness and difficulty and pain, they may not be released from those things, but they get Jesus.
When you “get Jesus” you get a relationship with the ONLY ONE who will ever love you perfectly and accept you wholly. Jesus is our ROCK, our redeemer, our rescuer, our comforter, our fortress, our stronghold, our peace.
The world tells us in so many ways that we need to perform, we need to succeed, we need to excel, we need to DO in order to GET reward, power, money and happiness. This is the opposite of the gospel. The gospel says we cannot DO a thing because it has already been DONE for us, in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
When I went through my extreme depression and anxiety these last few weeks, the thing that kept me going was that I knew without a doubt that Jesus wasn’t grading me on my spiritual strength. He wasn’t judging me for being scared. He wasn’t holding out on me because I doubted. He wasn’t pulling his love from me because I couldn’t snap out of it.
Whatever struggle you are facing, whatever trial you may be walking through, consider a relationship with Jesus. He doesn’t promise He will take it away. He promises He will be with you. You get Jesus.