Ken Davis has been the director of Project Jerusalem, a church planting endeavor out of Clarks Summit, PA, for 20 years. More than that, Ken has been my pastoral mentor and personal friend for over a decade when I joined the Project Jerusalem team in 2007. This is part 2 of a 5 part series, when Ken shared with us how God is teaching him many lessons through his diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. This originally was done as an interview Sunday morning at my church, and you can hear the hour long interview here.
TIM: Have you had any doubts of faith during this time at all, and if so, how are you learning to trust God during them?
KEN: One question that I’ve had to wrestle with was, “Is God punishing me?” Of course I knew the answer to that: all the punishment for my sin Jesus took on Himself when He died in my place on the cross. Then I had to struggle with the question, “Is perhaps the Lord disciplining me for some unrepentant sin in my life, past to present?” Is this maybe a storm, a trial of correction? As Hebrews 12 tells us, “whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” Had I been disobedient in some area of my life? Lord, what have I done wrong? I knew I should ask that. And if I could be transparent, there were some areas of pride and some private sins my conscience convicted me of, which I had to confess to God.
Then I was reminded that not all of storms in life are for our correction, some are for our perfection. Sometimes our trials, like cancer, are to keep us from sinning, and motivate us to lean hard on the divine grace and sufficiency. I began to see that my cancer journey was for both in my life, for needed correction and ultimate perfection.
Understand this has enabled me to trust the Lord more fully than ever before. I don’t really think I’ve had a lot of doubt of faith, maybe a few times when my test results were not as good as I had expected. But I’ve been learning that I can go to Him for help in the midst of all my uncertainties and my inner struggles. Psalm 46:1-2 has been very comforting to me: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way.”
TIM: We all look for comfort in a savior. If we don’t look for it in God, we will look to things that can never fully comfort us.
KEN: Right. I”m learning to personalize this promise by praying like this, “O Lord, you are my refuge. Protect me. You are my strength. Strengthen me. You promise to be a very present in my trouble. This is trouble. Help!” And He does help! See, I would never choose to go through all this on my own. But neither would I give up what I’ve learned in the process. I can truly say, God has met me. He has been with me. And my faith has been stretched and become more real.
TIM: How has God’s sovereignty, or the fact that He is in control, helped you along your journey?
KEN: I’ve said all along on this 42-month journey that I’m convinced the Lord has a wonderful plan He’s working out for me, and one that is for my good and His glory. I take great comfort in knowing He’s permitted my cancer to achieve some deeper, eternal purposes, some of which I may not fully understand this side of Heaven.
Because God is sovereignly in control of all the details of my life, I know that He can and will use the broken things of this sin-cursed world and my life to accomplish His will for my good and His glory. I keep reminding myself of Joseph’s statement to his brothers who sold him into slavery into Egypt, “You meant it for evil against me but God meant it for good” so that many lives should be saved.
I recall what Paul said in II Corinthians 12 about his thorn in the flesh which he begged God to remove it. God didn’t do so but reassured him; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I’m not sure yet I can say with Paul in response, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
One good purpose in pain for Paul was God used the physical affliction, or whatever it was, to keep him humble. He now realized the power of Christ in him was more important than freedom from that physical pain.
Let me share two big benefits, or goods, that I have found God has allowed as I have gone public with my prostate cancer. I have hundreds of God’s people praying for me now, for which I”m eternally thankful. Second, the Lord has graciously opened up whole new doors of ministry for me to share my story, both with people who believe in God and those who do not. I’m sure there are many more goods or benefits to my cancer that the Lord has in mind and planned, but these are two I have experienced over the last three years.
TIM: I like what you just said there, for my good and God’s glory. Essentially what I am hearing you say is a couple things. First, our spiritual life is bigger than our physical lives. Second, God’s greater eternal purpose is more important than our physical life. Third, God’s kingdom is a greater purpose than our personal kingdoms.
Listen to Part I
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.