Shared by Bruce Long at South Roanoke United Methodist Church Lent 1998
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12
I’d like to tell you a story which illustrated to me some of the ideas of Lent, of suffering, of sacrifice of self for the well-being of others, and of living in victorious service to Jesus Christ. I had the opportunity to care for a gentleman recently who had been suffering from an unexplained illness for almost two years. Despite the best medical help around, no one could diagnose or treat the illness that left him weak and in pain. He was finally diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Procedures done to relieve his symptoms at that time had been unsuccessful. I was consulted to try to help him. This gentleman could have been very bitter given his circumstance, but as I spoke with him, I came to realize two things about him.
First, he was realistic about his disease; he knew he was dying. Second, despite that realization he had a rare peace and confidence about his demeanor. In an attempt to console him I told him that I had also been recently diagnosed with cancer. On the following day, as we prepared for his operation, he asked to pray with me. Unaccustomed to this I hesitated for a second but felt God had given me this opportunity, and I sat down with him.
Before I could begin a prayer, he had started and completed a prayer for me.... not for my skills as his surgeon, but for me, my family, my health and well being, and that God would bless me. I realized later what I had witnessed is what I have come to call Victorious Living. Simply put, this man trusted God so completely for his own eternal well-being that he could see past his own suffering to the needs of another and respond. This kind of Victorious living can be seen clearly in Christ’s life, particularly in this week of passion. You see, despite His own suffering and death, Christ continued to respond to the needs of those around Him.