“Your cancer has nothing to do with you,” I said to an elderly friend as she lay in hospital possibly dying. “It’s not about you. It’s about your kids learning to care for you in a new way. It’s about your grandchildren realising life ends even for life’s seeming constants like grandparents. It’s about your friend’s faith being stretched as they pray for your healing. It’s about you shining the light of Christ to doctors, nurses and patients during your time in hospital. Oh, and a little about you learning to rely on God in a new way through this illness.”
Yes, I really said that. Although it wasn’t cancer, it was double pneumonia with complications and it was the first time this friend in her eighties had been ill in over two decades.
I recently recalled this conversation which took place in the winter of 2009. As I pondered it and discussed it with God my mind was stretched. It’s not just cancer or illness that it’s not about. Here are some other times life is not about us.
Your boring night class is not about you. Even when the time cost is high and the learning is low. Its’ about the people you meet, the example you set, the support you provide, the witness you give. It’s about making your house available for Bible Study on a Wednesday by simply not being home. Oh, and it’s a little bit about you obeying God in getting this qualification even though you don’t feel like it.
Your monotonous, menial, thankless job is not about you. It’s about the customers who get treated as Jesus would be rather than like just another number. It’s about managers who see Christlike integrity in the midst of dishonesty. It’s about the young staff taught Christian ethics through your mentoring. It’s about the colleagues you witness to. Oh, and it’s a little bit about trusting God with your career, even when it feels like it’s going nowhere.
Your disability is not about you. It’s about your parent’s deepening faith as life dreams shatter, tumbling into a permanent alternate reality. It’s about your siblings learning when to defend and when to tend. It’s about your classmates learning that the funniest, smartest, kindest kid in the class can be wheel chair bound. It’s about your colleagues learning that special needs don’t define character or destiny. Oh, and it’s a little bit about your character and faith development as God prepares you for heaven.
Your death is not about you. It’s about your family seeing that a life lived with Christ can end in great peace and anticipation. It’s about taking a small part of your friend’s hearts as deposits into heaven, an invisible, deep longing for reconnection that draws them, embodying a hope of heaven. It’s about your acquaintances being reminded of the big questions of life – purpose, eternity, faith and God. Oh, and it’s a little bit about you stepping into an eternity in God’s presence.
Your life, it’s not about you, not really, not entirely, not only you. As long as you have truly given your life to Jesus Christ it’s all, entirely, only about Him. It’s about how He interweaves our lives, our learning’s, our journeys of faith. If your life is His, then does it matter where your life is or what it looks like? As long as your life is exactly what and where He wants it to be, could anything be more right? Only that our faith in Him grows, only that we realise our life is beyond just us, only that we bloom wherever He plants us however painful, boring or irksome it may be. Only that our cancer is not about us, it’s about Him, all about Him, only about Him, Jesus Christ.