In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. –1 Peter 1:6-8
Being sick is not only a trial, it’s a test. Yet it’s not the Lord who needs to find out how we’ll handle a test. He already knows what’s in us. Testing reveals to us what we’re depending on for strength, fulfillment and purpose. So He leverages our trials to shift us on to a firmer foundation, which will provide true freedom and stability.
During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I struggled with a specific area of testing – my identity as it related to my work. There were times I was physically or mentally unable to carry out my work as a pastor. I couldn’t prepare sermons, counsel, or help anyone. I considered the cancer battle a colossal waste of my time, and God’s time.
I tried to push through and keep working, which only complicated my treatments and recovery. We have to be wise enough to realize when our cancer battle needs to be a full time job.
I did not comprehend at first, but the Lord was purifying my motives, and corralling my passions. My identity and value are not wrapped up in the success of my career. He used the cancer to set me free from my addiction to work.
Now I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to derive enjoyment from our hard work. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us enjoying work is a gift from God. Still, we must realize our significance is not tied to our production, paycheck or performance. When we’re unable to work, we still have incredible value!
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:35-39
Let’s consider medical leave a chance to grow in being loved without condition. We don’t need to earn our value in the workplace, we already have it, even when we can’t lift a finger.
Do you struggle with your inability to work during your cancer treatment?