One of those moments that I used to hate was when Joni would ask me this question:

"What is God teaching you?"

I hated that question. How can you fake an answer to that one? Even if I could fool my bride (unlikely), I could certainly not fool the object of the question. I would hem and haw and then come to the uncomfortable truth.

Not much.

And that was a real revelation to me. If I could not answer that question then there is not much going on in my relationship with God. When I could not answer that question I was stagnant in my walk at best, and headed in reverse at worst.

Recently I have not dreaded the question from my beloved, because God is teaching me a lot during our joint journey through Joni's breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Not long after diagnosis day (cancer patients and family understand the impact of D-Day), I wrote a blog about the beginning of our journey. The article was called "Sentences that change your life". I reviewed that as I pondered what I have learned.

So what is God teaching me through this trial? Three things immediately come to mind:

  1. I am learning that my trust is only in Him. I have no ability to control this situation. I cannot make a joke that will diffuse cancer. I can't come up with a clever plan to circumvent this disease. I can't ignore it and hope it goes away. I can't procrastinate and deal with it later. Cancer is in my face and I have no control over anything. It has been humbling and frustrating. But ultimately I have had to confess that I am helpless. King David understood in Psalms 18 where his strength came from... I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.
  2. I am learning that most of what we agonize over in the mundane struggles of daily living is a giant pile of, uhh, balderdash. This has been a lesson and a struggle at the same time. I find myself getting frustrated and even angry when others get upset over insignificant things. I am learning that is my problem and not theirs. I am accountable for me. I want to grab these whiners by the shoulders, shake them, and tell them how much they have to be thankful for. But I am learning that my response is to silently be grateful for my blessings. And one of those blessings is not going ballistic over nothing. My fear is that I will forget this lesson when we finish this arduous journey. Feel free to call me on that if you observe me forgetting what matters. Please.
  3. I am learning that God is in control of everything. Joni told me yesterday an amazing insight that God is teaching her. Part of the struggle of this journey is your expectations of how others respond. You go into a crisis like this expecting that this person will respond this way and this person will respond that way. If your experience is like ours you will be wrong much of the time. We have been amazed at how some people come out of nowhere to support and uplift your spirits. Others you would have expected to do that do not respond according to your expectations.

    Joni found a devotion in a book called Praying Through Cancer
    . This particular article was talking about how God chooses those people that He wants to care for us. He places in their hearts a desire to pray, comfort, and reach out to us. We have been so blessed by so many who have done that in our journey. But Satan causes you to dwell on someone you "expected" to be there. I am learning that God is in control of even who cares for us. Why should I dwell on a negative when He has chosen so many wonderful people to share this journey with us.

Paul writes powerfully to the Romans 8:35-39:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Joni and I are learning so much. It is a tough class. We are ready to finish this course and advance. But I pray we will never forget what God is teaching us through this time.

May I annoy you by asking... what is God teaching you?


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Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of  When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and  Bring ’em Back Alive – A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. He invites replies by linking through daveburchett.com