Some time ago, the older brother of my good friend was out of fight and approaching death at the hands of terminal cancer. On one of his final visits, after watching his brother suffer much, my friend leaned in to ask him how he was doing. His brother’s faint response was a thing of beauty: “It’s Jesus all the way.”
When I was in the hospital two years ago having a tumor removed and waiting to hear if I had cancer, I did not hear God’s voice. I thought I would. I would like to tell you otherwise, but I felt quite alone. Yet I learned something valuable from the silence: Those moments when we most desperately want to hear from God are the ones faith shows itself for what it is—complete trust and helpless dependence. God could have conspicuously revealed Himself to me as He has to others in their harrowing moments, as He has to me before. Then I would have had a miraculous story of Holy visitation to share and encourage others by. But like I say, I never heard His voice, not in the days leading up to surgery, not in the moments before they wheeled me in.
A week after surgery, I was still pondering why God didn’t choose to talk to me during the darkest part of my trial. I reached back in my mind to when I last heard Him talking me through any part of the painful ordeal. And right then I sensed—not through my ears, but in the consciousness of my soul—“stop worrying so much about hearing me all the time; I’m right here with you, son. That’s all you need to know.” Not the response I was expecting, but it did jar me to the realization that while I didn’t hear His voice during my trial, that didn’t mean I didn’t hear from Him. Like when my son flew in from another state to spend the week leading up to my surgery with me, to keep me company. I insisted he save his vacation days. He came anyway. I would have been steeped in fear without him. (Thank you, God.) Or like when the nurse who prepped me for surgery asked if I was a Christian. When I said I was, she prayed the most passionate, soul-lifting prayer, I’ve ever heard. (Thank you, God.) Or like a host of other events that began bubbling up the more I reflected, reaffirming what I already knew—God was with me the whole time and had His ways of letting me know.
I was facing two possible outcomes with my tumor. It turned out to be benign. I thanked God for that too, even as I knew that I was fully prepared for the other outcome. And through it all, in retrospect, I was not troubled by feeling alone. To the contrary, I experienced a great deal of peace, for the good reasons that I knew my feelings of aloneness weren’t reality, and I knew I would hear God’s voice again, be it on this side of life or the better side to come. Either way, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And while I waited in the balance for what He was to decide, in my soul I was inwardly aware of an ongoing promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5b). Or to put it another way, I knew the whole time, it was Jesus all the way.
I hope this encourages you to trust Jesus during your trial today.
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