Cancer. It is the last thing that you want to hear a doctor say. The second those words come out of their mouth, it feels like a death sentence has been delivered. Many have lived this experience, and all have felt its touch. We all like to live in the world of today and not worry about what is around the corner; however, there is just something about a terminal illness that pulls our focus away from the here and now and into the unforeseen future. Our thoughts become obsessed with the fragility of life and squeezing every last ounce out of it that we can. Desperation consumes us as we look into the future, now with an expiration date and a timer.
This is the reality for many people as they battle for their lives to draw even one more breath or just see one more sunrise. A passion for life begins to stir, and maybe they wonder, “Why haven’t I lived the whole of my life this way?” Yes, the cancer woke us up to the temporary nature of our current state, but hasn’t this always been the case? Haven’t we always been born to die?
The truth is we are all born with a spiritual cancer. A rot that eats us to the core and will consume us If left untreated. Slowly, the sickness eats away at us. Transforming the things we love into twisted and ugly shadows of what they could be. No relationship is spared the consequences of this cancerous blight on our lives, and there is nothing that we can do to cure it. It grows, spreads, and consumes until nothing is left. One day, we look into the mirror and no longer recognize the person looking back.
We all live within an illusion of a promised tomorrow that doesn’t exist, and we live shallow lives. As a consequence of these shallow lives, we build shallow relationships, set shallow goals, and are deterred by deep waters. We live in a society that has convinced itself that there is no “cancer” and that we will live forever. This isn’t the actual forever they are thinking of, but an extension of the temporal now. If people acted as if the eternal was real and lived fearless lives based on that, there wouldn’t be an issue. Instead of a cure, people seek to treat the symptoms of the disease instead of cutting the cancer out entirely.
Whenever the complications of sin expose themselves, they are dealt with via egregious slothfulness. The intake of strong drink dulls the stresses of life, a convenient lie covers the difficult truth, and the consequences of sexual immorality are cured through medical innovation or an abortionist blade. It is a culture cultivating a lifestyle of half-measures and shortcuts, creating generations of degenerate, hollowed-out people thirsty for something of substance.
This is because what is secular does not satisfy. It has no answer for the stained soul. There is no remedy for the things that keep us up at night. Nothing to temper the guilt and shame that countless are attempting to medicate away. There is only one answer, and it calls on us to confront the sin within our hearts. The very author of reality calls on us to open our eyes and understand that we, on our own, are not enough and never will be. Without the cross, our condition is irreversible, but through the cross, our potential is unlimited.
As difficult as it is to receive a fatal prognosis, we must wrestle with the death inside each one of us so that we can understand our helpless situation and turn the control over to the only one with any authority. In that surrender, we find the answers we are looking for and the peace that comes with it. Turning to the cross of Christ encourages us to likewise pick up our cross and shoulder our responsibilities instead of merely dealing with the symptoms of our broken souls in a broken world. So, turn from your slothfulness and embrace surrender at the foot of the cross. You will be born again to a new life of meaning and purpose. A life of confronting the sin instead of treating its symptoms. Come to the Great Physician for your new beginning.
“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13 ESV).
James Wiggins is a University of Mount Olive graduate with a BS in Religion. Originally from La Grange, NC, James resides in Winterville, NC with his family. With more than five years of experience in youth ministry, this father of two wants to prepare the next generation and their parents for the spiritual challenges ahead.