R. C. Sproul examines twelve promises found in Scripture, and how they relate to the Christian life. It is part the Crucial Questions Series, a thorough introduction to matters critical to Christian life.
Five years ago, I was watching the church I had planted, Saint Peter Presbyterian, experience rapid and significant growth. Our body life, our sacred community, was enjoying such rich blessing, such sweet fellowship, that families from across the country were packing up and moving to be a part of it. My little ministry, the Highlands Study Center, was just beginning to grow. My book on homeschooling was taking off. I was getting ready to travel to South Korea to teach homeschoolers there, as well as teach at a seminary for a week or so. Three times I had been invited to teach for two weeks on a Christian radio program that ran on nearly three hundred stations. God had blessed my wife and me with six lovely children. It was a joyful time.
Then, on New Year’s Eve, we received word that my dear wife had breast cancer. The next day, I lost a job that I loved, that I had prayed I would have until the day I died. My trip was cancelled.
Our church body responded in power, offering love and assistance such that we felt most potently the love of Jesus. Denise was positively heroic, never complaining through the surgeries, the chemotherapy, and the radiation. The children likewise were heroes, taking this challenge in stride and trusting in the providence of God. We determined, even while Denise was going through treatments, to move forward with our plans to build a new house. We sold our house and moved out, but our new house would not be ready for two more months. Over those months, we “moved” our rather large family twenty-four times, from this family to that, from these friends to those.
Denise’s body began to heal. Her hair grew back, and we happily moved into our new home. It was not long, however, before we faced more challenges. Less than two years after Denise’s treatments ended, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had surgery and went through six months of intense chemotherapy. About this same time, controversy erupted in the church where I serve, controversy fueled by a deadly combination of my sins and failures and the sins and failures of others. God had sent me a long string of hard providences.
This was the context in which I was writing this book. Throughout these ordeals, God was tender toward me. I went to bed each night not thinking about this ministry success or that, but remembering that while my enemies were rejoicing over my sin, my Father in heaven was rejoicing over my forgiveness. I went to bed knowing that even if all the world believed me to be the Devil, the Devil himself knew that I belonged to Jesus. I went to bed knowing that given how much this all hurt, it must be good for me.
God, of course, did not leave me with only words. He reminded me throughout all this that I still had friends. I woke up each morning knowing that my wife loved me and was with me. I sat down to every meal knowing that God had blessed me with flourishing olive plants (Ps 128). Indeed, in the midst of these trials, God blessed our family with our youngest blessing, Reilly, who came to us via adoption.