Manga, Cancer, and An Eternal Perspective
The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning . . . But you, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. Lamentations 5:15-19
When my son was a toddler, he would often get his words a little mixed up. Fish became shiff. Gobble became boggle. And grandma became Manga. Ever since, my mother-in-law has been Manga to me.
Not long ago, I had the responsibility of telling Manga that her CT scan showed something ominous. I told her that the prognosis was not good and that the only possible cure was through chemo, radiation and maybe surgery. Due to my past experiences, I expected tears, but instead, I got a response I’ll never forget. I’ll be fine. If I die, I’ll be with Jesus and if I live, I’ll have more time here with you guys. Either way, I’ll be fine. Her answer echoed Paul’s faith, To live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Crises have a way of making us take a different perspective, but her response came far too naturally to be just a crisis response. Her answer was simply what flowed out of her when faced with bad news because she lives by faith and has an eternal perspective.
Many of us, like the Israelites in today’s passage, only turn to God in the harsh trials of life. Ours is a crisis-faith, only being exposed by fire and pain. We can and should turn to God in our trials, but that is a tough time to find out if we have faith.
Manga had faith in abundance when confronted with bad news because she daily lives with her eyes on the Father. I want faith like that. When it’s my turn to experience such a trial, I long to respond as she did.
The truth is, we are all going to face death and eternity. What will matter then, is not how much stuff we have, but rather, whether we have faith in God or not. Have we loved and followed God? Have we loved his people, investing in that which is eternally important? In the end, these are the things that truly matter.