People Need Some Good News

January 30, 2014

Yesterday I got to meet with my “Peet’s Ladies,” fellow gym enthusiasts who gather daily for coffee at Peet’s next door after their workouts. They saw me through the window coming into the coffee shop, and it was a joyful reunion. We sat down for a cuppa and caught up with each other. My prayer list for each one was renewed, and they were encouraged to see me with their own eyes and know that I was doing well.

During all this treatment for my lung cancer since November, I have had a steady parade of home visits from friends, almost all of whom know the Lord and bring the Spirit’s comfort and companionship to me as I am stuck in my recliner. But I have missed the Peet’s Ladies—the one group in my life that does not know Christ—and their non-stop chatter about anything and everything. Turns out, they missed me, too.

The talk quickly turned to how well I am doing, and it is as natural as sharing a yummy recipe to tell them that God is at work to bring me healing. I am so utterly convinced now, even more this week, that the Lord is going to complete the work that has been started by chemo and radiation, I am telling everyone. There is no other explanation for the relative ease with which I have tolerated the aggressive assault upon my body: its effectiveness at shrinking the tumor, the lack of nausea or misery of any kind, the manageable and short-duration discomfort associated with radiation, and how quickly I recover from one treatment to the next. God’s intervention on my behalf is really quite remarkable, and since it is, I am remarking about it to anyone celebrating with me the progress toward complete healing.

It’s called “giving witness.” As I move from one circle to another, I am giving testimony based on evidence of God’s unique and powerful activity. It is surprisingly easy to do so, because the Lord is so close and real and the results of God’s work so tangible. Others to whom I speak are encouraged, as they see a living, breathing example of trusting Jesus and the power of prayer. To God be the glory!

When Jesus commissioned us to be his witnesses and to make disciples (Matthew 28:19f), he was opening the door for us to share what God has been doing in our lives. We have dramatic examples in the book of Acts of disciples—former fishermen and tax collectors—who boldly shared testimony to Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit. What would have been impossible three years prior was then an everyday activity: to lift up the name of Jesus and share an enthusiastic story of what he has done.

So what holds us back from bringing up the Lord’s mercy and tenderness in a conversation with non-believers? I can think of a few reasons:

  1. We are out of touch with God’s activity in our lives and on our behalf. I think this is a surprisingly powerful deterrent to Christian witnessing: we do not pause to reflect on what God is doing; consequently we do not give thanks nor give God glory because we have nothing to share. We are so busy or preoccupied with finding our own solutions to God-sized problems that we miss the clues that point to our divine Physician, our constant Companion, our blessed Savior. This is one reason why I think it important that we rehearse frequently the story of our conversion, our discovery of Christ’s presence in our lives, or a turning point of repentance we have experienced. Never forget what the Lord has done for you and what good news it really is! “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits!” (Psalm 103:2).

  2. We have put our faith in a private compartment that we feel shouldn’t be opened out in public. Part of this dynamic is the belief that spiritual things are only quiet, internal, and therefore very personal, and that their impact is not visible in any practical way to the casual observer. But wow, what does this say about the Christian faith? That it really doesn’t change a person from the inside out? That it is irrelevant to everyday living? That it doesn’t have the power to express itself in any visible, active way? If faith becomes a way of life, my friends, it is going to show. You might as well let people know why you have an uncommon joy in the face of adversity, or why you have been able to move on after a disaster, or who was behind your healing! They actually want to know, and I am impressed with my friends—believers and non-believers alike—for showing me respect and sharing my joy at what God is doing. Do not underestimate the openness of others to hearing some good news.

  3. We overthink the reaction we might get to uttering the name of Jesus to others. This is the fear category. We are afraid people might think us kooky if we give credit to Jesus for what they think is accomplished only by medical science, for instance. No, our testimony simply offers another, very viable interpretation of what is happening here, something perhaps our unbelieving friends have not seen before. Even if I were to die today, my Peet’s Ladies would know that God gave me joy and serenity in this cancer experience. They would know that I considered God a partner in the medical practice of my doctors. They would know that I had lived life confidently because God was trustworthy. I am not afraid of what they might think when I share from my heart, because what God is doing is real, and they can see it. So what is there to fear? Some cynicism? Loss of reputation? Real hostility? None of these things should intimidate us, when our experience is genuine and tangible, when we are willing to share it transparently and authentically, and when we do not underestimate the interest others have in what God might actually be like in real life.

 

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5 Responses to “People Need Some Good News”

  1. emd5542 Says:

    I am so reminded that in The Great Commission God commands us to engage the process [while praying without ceasing] trusting that God will bring the product to fruition. Your Peet’s Ladies have truly missed you. Perhaps part of it is the true Joy to which you testify through living Faith and the Hope you trust to God’s healing. Just wait til they see you with a full head of hair, more beautiful than before and hear your declaration of being cured of cancer. Amen!

  2. emd5542 Says:

    And hasn’t God faithfully placed you in the midst of interesting characters your entire Christian life?

  3. Jim Skidmore Says:

    Rev. Mary,

    Thanks for sharing about your exercise buddies. I had a similar opportunity this week when on a very cold day I was the only student. My trainer and I are close. We shaded about how The Lord works in our lives each day.

    Wonder what the Ichildren of Israel shared with their children after the great acts of God experienced at Passover and crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. This same God is woring each day to go with us aswe are. Part of His plan.

    Jim

  4. Jodie Says:

    I think God gives us all a story to share. It’s our own story of our lives with Him. Witnessing that is not about our own story is hearsay. Not admissible in court. But our story is made for sharing. And the more we share it, the more it grows. Like the parable of the Talents.

    Jodie

  5. Pam Byers Says:

    Very glad to hear your good news, Mary. Praise God, indeed!

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