“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [Holy Spirit]will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7 KJV).
Last July, a Christian friend was diagnosed with cancer and immediately was placed in the hospital to receive treatment. In late September, she was told the treatment was not working and that she should go home into palliative care; basically, go home to die amongst family and friends. I went to visit her several times and each time she said, “I don’t believe God is finished with me.” We talked and prayed, and after I left, she was visited by medical staff who said they could try another treatment that may not do anything other than make her very ill. She agreed to the treatment but not out of desperation but because she believed God wanted to do something with her. She underwent the treatment. In December, it was evident the treatment had no effect, and again, it was suggested she go home to palliative care. She came home for a weekend and attended church service. The congregation prayed over her asking God to heal her. Did we have skeptics amongst us? Absolutely, including her family, who are heartbroken and confused. On Monday, she returned to the hospital and, upon arrival, was told they had an experimental treatment that could kill her while trying to help. She accepted the treatment, and after a few weeks, her blood counts started to improve; she was in remission. Earlier this month, there was talk of a bone marrow transplant, and presently, she is in a Halifax hospital undergoing that treatment.
Several times during Jesus’ ministry, He promised that when He returned to His Father, He would send us the Holy Spirit to help us survive the world. He never suggested we would be exempt from the world’s harshness but made promises that believers would be given help to not only live in the world but to do the work God has prepared for each believer.
Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to believers to build up the Christians and the church, gifts to advance God’s work. We can find these gifts listed in scripture, including 1 Corinthians 12:8-12, Isaiah 11:2-3, Ephesians 4:7-13, and Romans 12:3-8.
Scripture also reveals that we will receive the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that grows from our dependence of God. Many doubt that these gifts are available today. Many have not thought about or even prayed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. As a result, many Christians are living wanting different lives because they can’t seem to see what God has prepared for them.
My friend’s health story has not ended, but I felt it important to share what has happened to this point because miracles are happening all around her that are bringing glory to God. Not the timely healing miracle we desired, but one where people are seeking after God wanting the joy and faith, they have witnessed in her. She has not said. “thank you, God, for allowing me to be sick so I can be a witness.” She has not been happy that she is sick and has cried that her husband and children would lose her, but she did not fear God’s will. Her progress has been slow, but she has trusted God, and that is obvious to all who are observing her. I admit that as I spent time with my friend, I wondered if I was going to witness a healing miracle because, like others, that is what we often focus on with our ill friends.
However, what I have seen is the presence of the spiritual gift of faith (1 Cor. 12:9). A faith not based on the expectation for God to heal her, but one linked to God’s presence being with her always and wanting to use her. This gift of faith has enhanced her witness to medical staff, family, her community and her congregation.
A faith that believes God is using her to impact others. God is glorified because of this gift of faith.
God invites all who believe in Jesus to join Him on His mission to bring the Gospel to the world. We may have skills to share but for the truth to have meaning and be used for the advancement of the Kingdom, it must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we choose Jesus as our Saviour and believe in repentance, forgiveness and salvation, the Holy Spirit is sent to live in us. The Holy Spirit is given so that believers may know and serve God in a better way. Be a force of God to be reckoned with. Tell Him, “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here.” Be prepared to recognize your gift and use it.