Our church is witnessing a miracle.
The dictionary defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” Divine intervention. God steps in. God changes the natural course. A miracle.
Our church is familiar with the story of Justin Weldon, but you can read about it on his blog. Justin is fighting Leukemia. First diagnosed in 2004, it almost killed him before he started chemotherapy. After three and a half years of treatment, the cancer went into remission in 2008. Justin moved forward with his life, finishing college, graduating from the fire academy, getting married. But just before his daughter was about to be born, the cancer returned. In 2010, he was told that the cancer was in 90% of his bone marrow. His only hope was to take chemotherapy again, ridding the bone marrow of cancer, and then get a bone marrow transplant. Round one of chemo brought the levels down to 5%, and word just came back that round two has brought the cancer level down to 0%. His bone marrow transplant is scheduled for July.
Those in the medical field might disagree with my description of the above story as a miracle. After all, they might say, it was the chemotherapy that rid Justin’s body of the cancer. But those with eyes to see know that it was the Creator and Sustainer of All Things that empowered the treatments to be effective. But more importantly, the “divine intervention in human affairs” is not just limited to the level of cancer in his blood. God’s divine intervention is multifaceted, affecting Justin’s heart, soul, family, and witness.
The apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians from a prison where he was in chains for the defense of the gospel. But he told his dear friends in Philippi not to worry because what has happened to him has “really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1.12). And then he made two surprising statements that apply not only to Justin’s story, but also to ours.
First, he wrote, “I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1.19). We know that the Spirit of Christ delivers, but did you notice that the prayers of the Christians in Philippi also helped deliver Paul? Justin is being delivered not only by the Spirit of Jesus Christ but also by the prayers of the saints. It is amazing to be a co-worker with King of Kings through prayer!
Who is the Lord calling you to intercede for today that they might be delivered by the Spirit of Christ?
Second, he wrote that all of us are called to share the sufferings of Christ. Consider,
27Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1.27-30 ESV)
All of us are called to “engage in the same conflict” that Paul had, the conflict that serves to advance the gospel. One of the miracles at work in Justin and his family is that they have eyes to see how their conflict is really serving to advance the gospel. They are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. That kind of hope is God’s gift, a divine intervention.
We are witnessing a miracle in progress, God’s intervention in the human affairs of Justin. And we are participating in a miracle by praying for his deliverance. And we are engaging in the same conflict that the gospel might be advanced in each of us.
To the glory of God. Amen.