Today my father-in-law's "Verse of the Day" talked about Romans 8:38-39, which says that Paul was convinced that no created thing and no trial (nor a bunch of other things) can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. My father-in-law asked, "Can you honestly say that you are convinced?"
I believe that my over-a-year long battle with leukemia, its treatments, and its side effect was for that one purpose: God was trying to convince me that nothing would separate me from his love.
Mind you, I'm not a once-saved, always-saved person. Our own sin is not mentioned in Romans 8:38-39. We can separate ourselves from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus if we so choose.
Only a fool would choose that, but Satan has helped the Christian religious system become such that many, if not most, Christians are ill-equipped to live a Christian life. Christians have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). No, they're not perfect, but they are new and improved ... noticeably so.
If they're not, they're lying. They don't know God.
Hey, I'm just repeating 1 John 2:3-4 and 3:7-10. Oh, and for the "not perfect" part I'm quoting 1 John 1:7-2:2.
Anyway, I'm off topic.
I remember days when I could do nothing but lay there in bed. I could barely think, much less pray. I remember days of being on Dilaudid and dreaming every time I closed my eyes, whether I was asleep or not. I hate being out of control, and I was not confident of anything going on around me.
In that severely weakened state, the mental weakness worse than the physical weakness, God was always close. Sometimes I would quietly weep, a tear would run down my cheek, and I would thank him for taking such good care of me. On days like that the sins of my past would rise up before me, and I would be unable to understand why the grace of God was with me so strongly.
And God would whisper to me, "Somehow, some way I am going to convince you that I am always on your side."
There were other benefits to contracting leukemia. Yeah, I got the joy of having my faith tested, producing patience so that I can become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Yeah, the pains and trials did things that aged me inside, so that two different strangers at two different times looked at me afterwards and gave me the best compliment I've ever had, "You are an old soul. I can see it."
Yeah, I got to go through adventures, wander close to death and get a good view of my own mortality, and I got to see and experience things only so many people get to see.
Admittedly, there were a lot of benefits, and overall it was an extremely wonderful time.
But clearly, above all, the best benefit and main purpose was that I would be convinced that nothing--not leukemia, not pain, not confusion, not depression, not complete incapacitation--could separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.
People like me—who actually believe the old Gospel, the one Jesus, the apostles, and the Christians who heard the apostles believed—we're very prone to condemning ourselves because while it's true that those who don't obey the commands of God don't know God (1 Jn. 2:3-4), it is also true that those who do know God don't all obey perfectly.
God takes special care of the upright. He gives them grace to be not just upright, but to be able to live by an unearthly righteousness, the righteousness of God that is deeper than anything man can produce (Ps. 36:10; Php. 3:7-11; Gal. 2:20). That righteousness is beautiful to those who observe it in action (e.g., Ps. 90:17; Ps. 96:9; Zech. 9:17).
But even those possessed of such grace, upon whom others look with admiration, can be stricken with conscience. Their mourning over their own sins, no matter how merciful they are to the sins of others, is so deep as to be potentially unforgiving.
The grace of God is upon such humble mourners, and he devotes himself to convincing them of his love. He erases their doubts, and he puts the Holy Spirit in their hearts. He says, "Nothing, child, shall separate you from my love. I am for you, and nothing and no one shall set me against you."
If you're interested enough in this kind of talk, rather than focusing on leukemia, that you are wanting to look up all those Scriptures I referenced, I can make it easy for you. I'm going to go post a duplicate of this post on my "Old, Old Story" blog, where you can read those verses, thanks to refblogger.com by just pointing at them with your mouse.