This article is part of the #flamfaces series.
Here, Matt Kuipers of Launceston shares some of his story.
Being a Christian, I always thought I was a pretty ‘good’ person, who contributes well to society. As far as I can remember I have always been assured of belonging to God’s family, which gives me comfort and assurance in a life after death.
However my faith had never really been significantly challenged.
In December 2016 I was diagnosed with rectal cancer at the age of 34. After many scans it became apparent that the cancer had spread to my liver upgrading it to stage four.
Through chemoradiation and surgery the cancer was successfully removed from my rectum but the tumours in my liver continued to grow in both size and number.
Throughout the whole crazy journey, including diagnosis, never have I questioned my faith. I do not put this down to having a really strong, well-developed faith. In fact, I think the opposite is true. To sit there in total peace while one of your doctors is telling you that your cancer has progressed and treatment is now unlikely to remove it does not seem normal. To hold onto hope in such a circumstance requires a childlike faith, where all logical reasoning does not play a part.
I do remember praying a number of times for God to use me and my family in furthering his kingdom. I never imagined the form it would take.
After being diagnosed and sharing our journey with family and friends God has clearly used our lives and our positive outlook in this crappy situation as an encouragement to many. While using cancer to further His kingdom was never my intention, God has never left our side. Only now have we fully understood what it means to have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Obviously, there are times of sadness, however we have learnt that focusing on the many blessings we have reduces the anxiety of the future. We often feel as if we should be more upset than we are, and question if we are living in delusion but, thanks to God, we continue to live under His indescribable peace.
We are also holding on to the truth that we often sing with our kids, “Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty and there’s nothing that He cannot do”. While a miracle would be awesome we understand that whatever happens is ultimately for the best for His glory.
On numerous occasions, different people have approached me and have told me that God doesn’t want his children to suffer, and that those who are saved by the blood of Jesus do not need to suffer. While there may be some truths in this, after recently listening to a message on this topic, I believe there is a purpose to suffering and this has been quite evident in my life.
Christians are not immune to suffering.
Jesus himself suffered in many ways while He lived on earth. The apostle Paul is another good example. He reminds us in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 that suffering causes us to rely fully on God rather than ourselves.
Alongside the various forms of suffering that come with fighting cancer, my family has noticeably drawn closer to God. We have not suffered alone but God has humbly opened our eyes to His amazing community through which He has provided for all our needs.
While it is a humbling experience, I encourage anyone experiencing suffering to rely more on God and let Him, with his amazing community, carry you through.
If His love and the love and support my family has experienced is only a foretaste of what is to come, I think living for eternity will be quite enjoyable.
“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”
Photo credit: Mel de Ruyter