Your Suffering Is Not the End of the Story

Our pastor was dying of cancer. On weekdays, we’d receive updates about his treatments and his suffering. We’d beg God to heal and sustain him. Of course, we trusted God’s sovereignty and knew that He would do everything in love, but we also lamented that things were not as they should be.

In the dark days leading up to our pastor’s death, his preaching seemed supernatural. A thin, frail man would approach the podium, but as he opened his Bible and taught us about Jesus, he’d transfigure before our eyes! He’d become a young vibrant man, full of vim and vigor, with glowing cheeks and a strong body. At the end of his sermon, he’d pray, close his Bible and slowly—carefully—shuffle back to his seat as the transformation dissolved.

Halfway Healed

One particular week, our Bibles were open to Mark 8:22–26. We read that:

Some people brought to [Jesus] a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

I wish I could remember what our pastor said about the passage, but I can’t. I wish I had written some notes in the margin of my Bible or saved the sermon outline. All I can remember is that at the end of the sermon—after expounding on Scripture in all of the right ways and teaching us that, most importantly, Jesus came to heal our hearts that are blinded by sin—our pastor looked out at us and quietly said, “I do not know why Jesus did not heal this man completely the first time.”

His painful honesty settled over us like a blanket. Of course, we knew that he was actually saying, “I do not know why Jesus hasn’t healed me completely . . . and I do not know why Jesus hasn’t healed you completely.” We sat in silence, grappling with the mysterious ways of an all-powerful God. Yes, we were saved to the uttermost! Yet we still struggled against sin, darkness, and decay. Yes, sometimes God granted our requests for physical health! Yet we would still suffer, age, and die. We sat in frustration, wondering why we were “halfway healed,” why we who were once blind could only see “walking trees.”

Choosing to Remain in Jesus’ Care

To avert the rawness of the moment, I self-consciously looked down at my Bible and reread the passage. This time, I noticed the blind man’s honesty: He knows that being halfway healed just isn’t right. When he says, “I see people, but they look like trees walking,” he is virtually confessing, “I was desperately hoping for more from You, Jesus.”

Then, shockingly, the man chooses to remain in Jesus’ care even when it appears that Jesus has botched things up. Imagine! If my doctor only offered partial healing I’d move on to another doctor, but the blind man has faith in Jesus—faith to wait on Jesus’ timing and faith to trust His decisions. Then, how wonderful—and what relief!—when Jesus fully restores the man’s sight. Allowing Jesus to work in His mysterious way was worth the risk . . . and worth the wait.

I looked back up at the pastor, knowing that the doctors had given him a terminal prognosis. He had already endured as much chemo as he could stand, and now his body was wracked with cancer. Aside from a dramatic miracle, he really was going to die soon, and yet he continued to trust in God. He chose to remain in Jesus’ care even when it appeared that Jesus botched things up. He had faith to wait on Jesus’ timing and faith to trust His decisions.

That’s when I said to myself, “I know why! I know why Jesus does not heal the blind man completely the first time.” Perhaps it is to show us that He isn’t satisfied with partial healing. Perhaps He wants to show us that He is committed to our complete restoration and intends to heal us completely even when it comes through a process, through stages, and over time.

To Jesus, it’s not good enough simply for someone to suffer nobly through cancer, for our loved one’s health to improve before taking a nosedive, or for us to be temporarily victorious over a besetting sin. He’s not in this for disappointing, subpar results. Jesus will not leave us halfway healed nor will He give up on us. He can and He will heal us completely.

He Will Carry You

Shortly after preaching that sermon, our beloved pastor died of cancer. In faith, I believe that he is with God now, supremely happy yet awaiting the complete healing of the entire universe, just as God promises. When I endure suffering of one sort or another, I recall God’s faithfulness to our pastor and our pastor’s unswerving faith in Jesus. It deeply encourages me to express my honest frustrations, pray bold prayers, keep serving the Lord with gladness, and remain in Jesus’ care, trusting that He will save the day.

From the womb to the grave to paradise, Jesus is with us, despising the darkness and working to redeem everything. We are in His hands, being transformed from glory unto glory. In the midst of your suffering, remember this and take heart: We are only in the middle of the story. Jesus has more to say . . . and more to do. Stay in His care, and He will carry you through.

For now, we see trees walking, but someday we will open our eyes, our sight will be restored, and we will see everything clearly.

About the Author

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the … read more …

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