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, I joined the Project Jerusalem team in the Fall of 2007. This is the last of our five-part series with Ken on his cancer journey. This interview originally was done on a Sunday morning at my church. You can listen to the hour-long interview here.
TIM: What practices of your Christian faith have prepared you for this journey? What should all Christians be doing now that would prepare them for any of the suffering they will go through in the future?
KEN: Good question. To be honest, I’m not sure my daily spiritual disciplines have always been as strong as they should be, but the Lord has used my cancer to drive me back to Him, to be more dependent on Him and His Word (and) to rely more on the support of our small group; we are a part of at our local church where we attend when I’m not on the road.
When I was first diagnosed, I was driven back to the Word of God and His promises. I read and meditated a lot of the book of Job. I’m meditating more on the Psalms and find I can more deeply relate to the questions asked by the psalmists.
Having cancer has driven me to be more of a worshipper, and I find myself much more intense in my personal and corporate worship of King Jesus. I used to be rather reserved but now find I have more freedom to lift my hands in praise and adoration, especially during theologically-rich songs we sing in church that God is using in my life. My emotions are much more tender. Sharon and I often hold hands during the congregational prayer times.
I’ve had to come to realize that the Lord is more interested in what is happening inside than within my physical body. He’s more concerned with what’s happening in the part of me that can’t be touched, scanned and medicated.
I need to pay closer attention to my inner man, especially as my outer man deteriorates. I have had to recognize it would be tragic to be healed of cancer, and still have a soul plagued by sin. The most important healing I desperately need to address is my sinful heart and mind, that’s my most serious problem, not my cancer.
TIM: I want to go back to something you talked about earlier, when you said this is for your good and God’s glory. How can you say this about something that may kill you in the end?
KEN: Another prostate cancer man told me months ago that whatever happened, it would be a win-win for me. Here’s how. If God saw fit to take me home, that would mean being with Jesus, my Savior, that’s a win. If God sees fit to allow me many years yet to serve Him here, and He’s mercifully granted me almost four years now (since diagnosis), that would be a big win as I get to be around with my dear wife, family, and 17 grandkids. That would be a win. I’m beginning to understand and live in the truth of Philippians 1:21. I can say with Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” See what I mean by cancer being a win-win, no matter how it turns out, if you believe what the Bible teaches?
Let me share why being able to remain here is a huge win and good for me, and I believe it will bring glory to God – maybe this is the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn – my source of contentment must be Jesus alone.
TIM: I love that you said that. I’m always teaching people this idea of their “Identity in Christ.” (**link here to “your identity crisis blog). I think this is a huge part of the Christian life, and if people miss it they struggle greatly.
KEN: To be honest, I’ve discovered I have a greater propensity to seek joy and contentment in people and things other than Jesus. I’ve had to ask myself, if my health were to be completely taken from me, could I be content? What about other people and things precious to me, my family, my ministry, my financial resources, and my reputation? Would Jesus be enough for me if they were gone?
I’m learning that suffering is a gracious gift from God that strips away all that competes for my affections and loyalty to Him. Jesus alone must be the center of my affections and loyalty to Him. Jesus alone must be the center of my affections. And if He permits me to stay around longer, I can better learn to find my contentment in Him only.
Of course one of the greatest promises in all the Word of God, one that is much more meaningful now to me, is Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called, according to His purpose.” Of course the following verse tells us what God’s purpose is through all the ups and downs of our lives. He’s weaving together this beautiful tapestry of our lives. It’s so that ultimately we’d be conformed to the image of His Son. All of that has helped me to trust God’s sovereign will and purpose.
TIM: In closing, Ken, what are your final lessons you want to leave us?
KEN: I have two, to be brief and to the point. My bottom line, many of you have heard me say this over that last several weeks, is I refuse to allow my heart to sing into fear and despair because I have stage four cancer. That is because I strongly believe that in His sovereignty He is permitting this for my good and His ultimate glory. That conviction keeps me going and gives me a song in my heart.
Finally, by way of application for us, our suffering will define us unless we choose to allow it to refine us. Or to put it another way, our trials will make us either bitter or better. It all depends on how we respond to them, by the grace of God.
TIM: Ken, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. I know this will bless people for many years to come.
Listen to Part I
Listen to Part II
Listen to Part III
Listen to Part IV
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.