“You have cancer.” Are there any words you dread hearing more than those? Let me tell you that we who have already heard those words shudder at the memory. Nevertheless, it is possible for the worst thing that ever happens to you to also be the best thing that ever happens to you.
I just received my copy of Safe In The Storm: The Grace of God, In the Midst of Cancer by my good friend, Steve Hatcher. I have watched him walk faithfully through a year-long journey with multiple myeloma. His honesty and wisdom have encouraged me and many others. I hope that, after you read the excerpt below, you will use the link above to purchase your own copy and embark on an adventure you won’t soon forget:
All: I am still in waiting mode. The initial shock of having to delay my transplant for a week wore off after a day. Thanks to many of you who gently reminded me that God controls all things in the life of the believer (Romans 8:28), including the timing of my transplant! I had to remember that waiting patiently is part of the Christian pilgrimage. Here I was, failing to trust God with my admission date when at the same time I said that I trusted Him with the much more amazing mystery of designing stem cells to engraft into bone marrow. Another example of how I often trust Him with the big things, but not the small ones, specially when I am impatient.
So, if God wishes it so in His timing, I will enter the transplant unit Wednesday. That will only occur after I have a chest x-ray and a doctor visit to see if I am “all clear” to go forward. Please pray for that success with me. Most importantly, however, pray that God moves me into the unit in His perfect timing, regardless of any schedule I have set in my heart. Then pray that I will hear Him during that period of relative solitude. Pray that you can hear Him, too, even without going into the desert.
Follow Steve’s continuing journey on his blog: stephenbhatcher.com.
Dear Christian Counselor,
My dad is the pastor of a small Baptist church. My brother and sisters and I are the only young people there over the age of 10 and under the age of 25. I absolutely am sick and tired of going there. First of all there is no zeal for God; everybody just sits there like a bump on a log. The church has no joy. They won’t sing. We don’t have a piano player. There is no youth group whatsoever, the men there aren’t spiritually mature or disciplined, so I have no older males to look up to and no one to confide in other than my dad. But he is always working, so he doesn’t take the time to help me or my siblings. The church doesn’t seem to want to grow, move forward, reach out to the community or anything. I feel isolated, ignored, and unloved. I don’t know how to go forward, and I don’t want to become stagnant. I don’t know what to do.
– Pastor’s Son
Dear Pastor’s Son,
At this point you have two good choices: stay or go. If you believe in Romans 8:28, then you are not stuck in a bad situation but at an exciting fork along God’s good path for your life. If you decide to make another try at your church, I would suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with the one man you say you can talk to, your dad. Take him out to breakfast and let him know you are feeling restless and stagnant in your faith. Ask for his suggestions to stir up some enthusiasm and find some purpose. Could you put together a worship team? Could you organize a community youth group or a charity project? What passions and gifts could you contribute for the good of everyone? For example, I know a college student who organized a 5K with hundreds of participants for the benefit of an organization dedicated to ending slavery in the world.
Your other option is to explore different churches in the area. You could begin by attending a singles’ or men’s group at another church while remaining in Sunday worship at your own. Once again, I would suggest having a good talk with your pastor/dad and explaining that you are prayerfully seeking God’s direction for your adulthood, that you want a close relationship with your father but that you are feeling the need to explore your own faith. Be careful not to put him on the defensive by criticizing his work. You will find that there is no perfect church or pastor but that most of them are trying to be the best grace-filled sinners that they can. Just like you.
Dear Christian Counselor,
I struggle with same sex attraction, but also find myself attracted to the opposite sex, and I struggle terribly with lust which I want to overcome. I really want to be a father, a normal guy, a role model. But instead I’m neurotic, narcissistic and not enough of a ‘guy.’ It seems that most girls clearly see I’m not what they’re looking for. I fear that no girl would want me if they really knew me, and so I hide. I am so lonely, and I feel so lost. I just don’t know where God wants me.. I know I shouldn’t… but I really hate myself… I’m just lost inside.
First of all, I am so sorry for your painful struggle. Everyone struggles with something, but – as is apparent in your letter – this particular ‘thorn’ penetrates the outer layers of identity and deeply pierces the heart. It’s important to remember that your sexuality is only one part of who you are. In fact, this struggle will be finished 100 years from now, and you will still be the same person. Don’t define yourself by the parts of you that are distressing or temporary. No one should do that. The battle you are fighting now is not an accident; it is a chapter in the story which ends with the perfect you.
As you engage this struggle proactively, I would encourage you to connect with a spiritual community. You need some friends who accept you, love you and pray for you. You are not alone, though I’m sure it must feel that way sometimes. Discover some parts of your identity that you can embrace (personality, passions, gifts, story, etc.). Do some individual or group counseling to help you fight this battle well, fill the empty spaces in your heart and heal the wounds which have already occurred. This is not a hopeless struggle because the God of hope is with you.
There are several Christian organizations which minister to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Check out their newsletters, resources and links: