Why me? Why this trial? Why cancer?
Bob Whitson was a 54-year-old father of four kids aged 16, 14, 10, and 7 when diagnosed with a then-incurable form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Prognosis? 6-12 years. He responded with the words, “Wherever cancer takes us is a place to share our faith,” and for the next five-and-a-half years (until his death) he lived those words. One Sunday in 2001, Bob used this outline to teach a Sunday School class titled “Why Me, God?” These are his notes. You will see that he indicated they were updated January 12, 2001. Bob died on February 3, 2001.
Click here to download a printable version of these notes.
WHY ME, GOD?
WHAT GOD HAS TAUGHT ME – WHAT HAVE I LEARNED? – CANCER
Word of God has answers
- To remind me that I am here to be a light in the world; revealing Jesus Christ, all that He is and all that He has done, by what I say and how I live my life; to save the lost and build His church to the glory of God . . . it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me—His light, His character, His good works; to make Him known; to proclaim Him: Ephesians 5:8–10; I Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 2:14–16, 3:18, 4:6, 5:9; Philippians 2:15–16; Matthew 5:13–16; Mark 4:2; Luke 11:33.
- To remind me that His purpose in trials/suffering is His glory and our good: 1 Corinthians 6:20; John 16:14; Romans 8:28.
- To conform me to the character of His Son, Jesus Christ: 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:21; Romans 8:29–30.
- Trials (difficult circumstances) are tools in the hand of God used over time to shape me into His likeness: 1 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 1:29–30, 3:10; John 16:33; James 1:2–4; John 15:2; Galatians 5:22.
- To teach me that trials in my life reveal evidence of Christ in me: Job 23:10.
- To cause me to depend on Him more and in greater ways: Romans 10:17.
- To prove my faith in Him: Job 23:10; Psalm 66:10.
- To provide visible and genuine evidence to the world of my faith in Him: Job 23:10.
- To teach me to continue to trust and obey Him through adversity and not grumble, murmur, or complain about it: 1 Corinthians 10:9–10; Philippians 2:14.
- To strengthen my faith muscles: Romans 10:17.
- To develop enduring strength for greater usefulness: Hebrews 12:7–11.
- To grow me in the grace and knowledge of Christ: 2 Peter 3:18.
- To help me view adversity from God’s perspective, through His Word: Philippians 3:7–11; Job 2:10, 23:10.
- To produce perseverance through trial, resulting in proven character: Job 23:10; Hebrews 12:7–11; 1 Peter 5:6–10.
- To remind me to consider it all joy in my trials and to exult and to rejoice in my tribulations because they produce, over time, perseverance, proven tested character, enduring faith—the result and reward is assurance of my salvation and great hope for the future: Philippians 2:17–18, 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Job 6:9–10, 23:10; 1 Peter 1:5–8, 3:14, 4:13–14, 5:10; Philippians 2:17–18, 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
- To teach me that trials are a blessing and a reason for rejoicing. 1 Peter 5:1–8; John 16:33.
- To improve my response to all trials—joy, rejoicing, exultation, trust, humility, thanksgiving, gratitude, and understanding, etc.: 1 Peter 1:1–8; John 16:33; Job 6:9–10; Philippians 4:4; James 1:2–4.
- To teach me patience: 1 Peter 2:2.
- To humble me: 1 Peter 5:6–10; 2 Corinthians 12:7.
- To teach me that it was good that I was afflicted: Psalm 119:50, 67–68, 71,75.
- To teach me that assurance of salvation is the reward of obedience and growing spiritually—obeying His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit: 2 Peter 1:5–10.
- To teach me that I am completely and totally dependent on Him for everything including my next breath: Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17.
- To emphasize that all the days of my life are numbered and I don’t know that number and to live day by day, not week by week, year by year: 2 Peter 1:13–15; Psalm 90:12, 139:16.
- To narrow and shorten my life focus to Christ and Heaven—the Person and the Place: 2 Corinthians 4:16–18; 5:1–8; 1 Peter 1:13; Hebrews 12:2, 11:9, 10, 16.
- To focus my attention on eternal things, not temporal things: 2 Corinthians 5:1–8; Hebrews 9:10; Colossians 3:1–2; Matthew 16:26; Philippians 3:20–21.
- To teach me the value of spiritual over material blessings: 1 Corinthians 3:12–15, 4:17–18; 1 Peter 1:4–7.
- To motivate me to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth: Colossians 3:1–2; Matthew 6:19–21.
- To wean me from worldly things—they don’t meet my deepest needs—salvation, heaven, Christ-likeness, being a light: Mark 10:17–21; Colossians 3:1–2; Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15.
- To cause me to honor Him far above everyone and everything else: Luke 10:27; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Deuteronomy 6:5.
- To reveal what and who I really love: Matthew 6:21,24; Deuteronomy 6:5; Psalm 119:119; I John 2:15; Revelation 2:4; Galatians 5:13; Luke 14:26, 33.
- To show me that spiritual growth comes through trial and affliction and not through ease, comfort, and immediate answers to prayer: Job 6:10; Philippians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 12:7–10.
- To teach me that the real benefit of prayer is not the changes He may make in my circumstances, but the changes He will make in me and in my perspective of those circumstances: James 1:2–8; Ephesians 1:38, 3:14–21; 2 Corinthians 12:7–10; Philippians 1:29.
- To teach me that His answers to prayer during adversity are determined by His will, sovereignty, and Word.
- To teach me about prayer—sufficient grace vs. removal of mountains: 1 Peter 4:19, James 5:14–15, 2 Corinthians 2:9–10.
- To remind me that His will, plan, and purposes are far above and exceedingly more important than the changing of my circumstances, the removal of my trials—pain, hurt, suffering, crisis, trouble, persecution, sadness, tragedy, difficulties, affliction, pressures, conflicts, disappointment, problems, weaknesses, worries, distress, tribulation, illness, doubt, and instant affirmative answers to my prayers: Psalm 34:4, 17, 19; Job 2:10.
- To motivate me to pray more and more intelligently: Ephesians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
- To teach me that the greatest spiritual growth in me and others occurs through trials (one of God’s greatest teachers): Job 2:10; Psalm 119:67–68, 71, 75.
- To show me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness: 2 Corinthians 4:7–12.
- To provide me with more and new opportunities to share my faith.
- To prove a point to Satan and to silence his accusations: Job 1:8, 11, 22.
- To teach me that Satan can’t touch me without God’s permission: Job 1:12, 2:6.
- To remind me of the greater spiritual battle in the heavenlies regarding my trials on earth: 1 Peter 5:6–10, Romans 6:11–12.
- To remind me that both good and adversity come from the loving hand of God for my good and His glory: Job 1:10, 2:10, 5:6–7, 14:1; Psalm 119:50; 2 Corinthians 4:8–9.
- To understand that “all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose”: Romans 8:28.
- To drive me to the Scriptures for wisdom, comfort, answers, hope, assurance, etc.: Psalm 119, Psalm 75, Psalm 76; James 1:5; Hebrews 4:12; Colossians 3:16; Joshua 1:8
- To teach me that the Word of God nourishes and adversity prunes (synergistic effect): John 15:2; Hebrews 4:12; Colossians 3:16; Joshua 1:8.
- To remind me to be prepared to meet my Maker: Hebrews 10:31; Amos 5:12.
- To force me to contemplate death, the process of death, the longing for death, and the fear of death—their meaning: Job 6:9–10; 3:21–24, 6:9–10, 7:3–4, 7:14–17.
- To remind me to examine myself to see if I am in the faith: 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 5:13
- To remind me that apart from Him I can do nothing: John 15:5.
- To remind me that the Lord giveth and taketh away: Job 1:21.
- To teach me that suffering under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God has meaning and purpose in His eternal plan: Psalm 119:67–68, 71, 75.
- To remind me that God not only permits affliction in the life of a believer but sometimes directly causes it: Job 5:17–19.
- To show me that He is in sovereign control of every aspect and event of my life: Romans 8:28.
- To show me that momentary light affliction is not worthy to be compared with eternal weight of glory: 2 Corinthians 4:16–18
- To improve the quality of relationships of those closest to me—church, family, relatives, close contacts—saved and growing—investment in their lives: 3 John 1:4–6.
- To encourage me to finish the race well: 1 Corinthians 9:24–27, 14:26, Philippians 2:15–16, 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:7–8.
- To experience God’s comfort through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and other believers during intense trial: Philippians 1:19–20, 1:25, 4:14; Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 1:4; John 14:16–17; Psalm 119:24, 50, 76, 103, 107.
- To enable me to better comfort others: 2 Corinthians 1:4.
- To remind me that He is the Potter and I am the clay: Job 6:18; Isaiah 45:9, 64:8; Jeremiah 6:18; Romans 9:20.
- To teach me that affliction from Him demonstrates His faithfulness to me: Job 23:10; Psalm 119:75.
- To remind me of the goal that I might know Him better—see all of the above: Philippians 3:8–9; Colossians 3:16.
- To teach me that He continues to mold me and use me even if I’m bedridden or incapacitated & feel like half a man: Job 2:10, 3:20, 3:26, 6:9–10, 7:3–4, 3:14, 33:19–20; 2 Corinthians 5:4; Philippians 1:21–25.
- To remind me that I am His workmanship created for good works: Ephesians 2:10.
- To encourage me to simplify and eliminate unnecessary events and things from my life as a soldier is forced to do: Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 2:3–4.
- To encourage me to not do anything to damage my testimony, the church’s testimony, and Christ’s testimony: Job 1:22, 2:10, 6:6–10.
- To remind me to be strong and courageous: Joshua 1:8.
HE MAINTAINS HIS GRIP ON US AND WE MAINTAIN OUR GRIP ON HIM—BY GRACE (PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS).
WE ARE CONTINUERS, STEADFASTERS, PERSEVERERS, FINISHERS, SUPER OVERCOMERS, PRESS-ONERS, HOLD-ONERS—TO THE END—BY GRACE
TRUE BELIEVERS NEVER BAIL OUT
FALSE PROFESSORS BAIL OUT—1 JN 2:19—THEY NEVER HAD SALVATION