Cancer is not good. You probably knew that already. I’m sure many of you have had experiences with it yourself or through a loved one. Cancer took my mother’s life when she was 44 and I was 11 years old. I have had other family members fight their battles and in my career I have seen hundreds of people go through it and lose. There are many, many stories of survival and I want to tell you a little about mine. I mostly want to tell you of one little part about it. Really, it is what God taught me through one little part of it. I learned a lot of other things such as how awesome my family is, and the power of having so many family and friends pray for me. But, here it is.
In December of 2017 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The story of all that is amazing in itself, but I will save that for another time. I had surgery on March 12, 2018. And as I write this on Sunday, January 27, 2019 I am cancer free. There is a whole lot that goes into all that but like I said, another day.
The part that I really can’t stop thinking about I get from Matthew 6:25-34, Do Not Worry, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,…” Once I was diagnosed in December I could not see past March. I am a planner and a worrier. That’s how I function. I don’t think it’s good but I can’t help it. But during those four months, I lived for that day, or that moment. It was the most peaceful feeling eve, to be free from my normal daily worries. Yes, I did have the thought of CANCER is in my body. But, I truly was at peace. I have never experienced a peace like this before. It was like God scooped me up in His hands and said it will be okay.
After the surgery, and now almost a year later, I am cancer free and I have struggled with the thought of why cancer gave me freedom of worry, but knowing my Lord Jesus Christ didn’t. Or, did He use that event as a catalyst to have me understand that Bible verse. He knows how dense I am and shows Himself to me in a unique way. He has shown me that He has my back many times since then, but sometimes I still struggle with the ability to live for the moment.
I am so grateful for that lesson (not the cancer), and I continue to learn from it. Thank you Lord for going before me. Thank you for already having everything covered. And thank you for teaching me so that I may understand it.
If you are experiencing grief now or have in the past, what is the hardest time of the day for you? Is it mornings, evenings? And, how do you get through those difficult times? Share your experience with us so we can help each other?
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Israelite's did not need to fear because God was with them. He is also with us. This verse tells us not only is He with us, but He strengthens us, He helps us, and He will uphold us. God is in control. We need to trust in Him and give ourselves to Him. Follow Him unconditionally. He is our father who loves us. Seek shelter in Him and fear no more.
One day in 2014, like any other day, I was upstairs getting ready for work. I typically study a couple scripture verses each day. That week I had been questioning the concept of God’s love. Not questioning my belief in it, more like questioning it because I never felt it. I know God loves us, I just don’t feel that love. In my study I read scripture and writings from theological thinkers on the subject. Everything came back to John 3:16. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. NIV” I believed this statement; I just didn’t feel this statement. Basically, after my week of study I came to the conclusion that God loves us because scripture says so…and that’s about it. I accepted it yet was disappointed. So I turned to prayer and asked God to help me understand this. I know people that have an emotional connection to God and have such a deep relationship with Him. Mine felt cerebral at best. And this was after many, many years of becoming saved. As I was getting ready that morning I was praying to God, as I did before, to show me what it all meant. I told Him that I was dense when it came to hearing His small voice in my spirit. All at once I felt this overwhelming feeling of dread. My mind was filled with the sickening feeling of all the sin I ever had. I felt as though I was losing my mind. I wanted to yell out for my wife thinking I had snapped. I really didn’t know what do, so I just prayed the Lord’s Prayer over and over. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times before this mental explosion, overwhelming feeling of all my sin, slowly subsided. As I stood there in shock God impressed upon me all that it meant.
To God, sin has substance. It’s not just a theological concept given to keep people in their place or to put a name on their poor actions. It has mass and weight. He referred to it as filth. We cannot be in His presence with sin. He is pure light, pure joy. Sin is the opposite of all God is. I understood that He created us to be with Him forever. That is what He wants of every one of us. So because of our sin spirit we cannot be in His presence. He took care of it all. He gave us His Son to take upon Himself all of our filth, and went to the cross where His blood washed it all away and made us pure. He did all this just because He wants to spend forever with us. Do you understand that?! In spite of us, He took care of it. I cannot accurately describe the horror of the feeling of sin. I also cannot describe the great joy in God for the sacrifice that He made on our part. We had nothing to do with it. It is His grace. You really need to understand that He did all this just because He wants to spend forever with us. That is how much He loves us.
So, how did this change me? What was once just a mental concept for me now became real....very, very real. Before, I believed God loved me because His word said it was so. Now, I have an emotional experience associated with it all. I now know what it feels like to be loved by God. I understand it in a visceral way.
Twenty five years ago I had my first experience with God that was part of what set me on my walk with Him. I have seen God work in my life in small ways like He has in the life of many people. However, after this last experience, I have had a few thoughts that won’t leave me. First, I am very careful in what I ask God to show me. If you ask Him, He will answer. Second, now what do I do with all this? Well, this is the beginning of all that. I have heard of people being saved in an instant. It took me 25 years. I told you I was a little dense.
The Book of Psalms
Historically, the Psalms cover a period of about 1000 years, from the time of Moses to the Israelites' return from exile. "Of all the books in the Old Testament the Book of Psalms most vividly represents the faith of individuals in the Lord. The Psalms are the inspired espouses of human hearts to God's revelation of Himself in law, history, and prophecy. Saints of all ages have appropriated this collection of prayers and praises in their public worship and private meditations.” -Dr. Thomas Constable
Psalm 46:1-2 NIV “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
People of God will find safety in Him. He has given us grounds to expect this of Him. Therefore, we do not need to fear even though we face very difficult times. Someone with a broken heart will attest to the darkness of each day. They will look around in disbelief of how everyone can happily go on with their lives. But fear not, focusing on God each day, you will slowly be engulf in His presence. And in the refuge of His presence you will find peace.
Grief Recovery Support
Small Grief Support Groups
Princeton Community Church
2300 Pennington Rd.
Pennington, NJ 08534
Calvary Baptist Church
3 West Broad Street
Hopewell, NJ 08525
Registration is required
Please call 609-209-6046 or email Joe@JosephImmordino.com
Joseph A. Immordino, Jr.
Licensed Funeral Director
Experienced Hospice Chaplain
Experienced Hospice Bereavement Counselor
The Book of Galatians
The Apostle Paul wrote this epistle from Antioch before 50 AD. History tells us the name Galatians was given to this Celtic people because they originally lived in Gaul before moving from central Europe to Asia Minor in the third century BC. They settled in the area known today as the Capitol of Turkey. In this book, Paul was addressing the tension between the Jew and Gentile. We could also say it was God's old-covenant people vs. His new-covenant people. It is vitally essential that believers be united through the message of hope, and in a common faith that we call Jesus Christ.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
We are told here to bear one another's burdens. In fact every Christian is encouraged to bear one another's burdens. As we have said in other writings the Apostles were not selfish people. When they received a grace from God they shared it with the church. So we can say the focus isn't on "expect others to bear your burdens." That is self-focused, and always leads to pride, frustration, discouragement, and depression. Instead, God always directs us to be others-focused, and says, "Bear one another's burdens." We are given this simple command to obey. Look for a brother or a sister with a burden, and help them with it. It’s that simple. The early Jew and Gentile Christians were encouraged to look in their communities to seek others to help as we are called to do the same. Everyone knows someone who has experienced grief. It could be a result from the loss of a loved one, a job, or a relationship.
Constable, Dr. Thomas L. Sonic Light. 2013. http://soniclight.com (accessed March 12, 2015). NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002.