An Ongoing Personal Testimony

By: O. Palmer Robertson | Date: July 26, 2021

On December 31, 2020, I had the colonoscopy mentioned in my previous blog. On January 5, 2021, the doctor reported with these solemn words: “I am sorry. You have rectal cancer”..

Hearing this kind of news is quite traumatic. As a believer in Christ, you rest in Him. Even if it means entering the final stage of this life, you know that a door would then be opening to the wonders of the life to come. Yet news of this sort must have serious repercussions for all parts of your life.

The surgeon explained that after the operation I would feel like doing nothing. I would have no zeal, no vision to accomplish anything for a good length of time. But he also brought good news. The cancer had been caught at a very early stage, and all tests indicated that the invasion had not spread any further.

In these abundant mercies, I recognize the undeserved grace of the Lord. I now have much greater admiration and respect for those who through faith in our Savior endure much more difficult circumstances.

The surgeon’s original prediction proved true. For weeks, for months I had not the energy to do a thing, to have a single creative thought.

It will be several more months before I will be able to call myself fully recovered. A follow-up surgery is scheduled for the fall of this year. I am not by any means the most “patient” patient. But the Lord has taught me many lessons I could not have learned any other way. I have come to understand certain circumstances in my own life that cry out for the grace of God. Giving thanks in all things is a valuable lesson I am having to learn every day.

The Lord has given me a word from his Word that has proven to have great power in sustaining me. These words from Scripture have become my personal testimony, which I now share with all of you. May the Lord use these verses to bless you as they have blessed me.

                                      PSALM 103:1-5

                                    Bless the Lord, O my soul,
                                                and all that is within me bless his holy name.
                                    Bless the Lord, O my soul,
                                                and do not forget all his benefits.
                                         Who forgives all your sins,
                                              Who heals all your diseases,
                                                    Who redeems your life from the pit,
                                                          Who crowns you with love and compassion
                                                                 Who satisfies your desire with good things,
                                                                        so that your youth is renewed like the eagles’.

Consider a few implications of these five blessings that have encouraged me to bless the Lord despite the challenges of my present situation.

One. He forgives all your sins. All true blessing must begin with the forgiveness of sins. Until the slate is clean and the conscience does not condemn, how can you expect to receive any blessing from the Lord, much less recognize them for the blessings that they are?

Remember the lame man lowered from the rooftop into the presence of Jesus (Mark 2:1-12)? His four friends lowered their lame friend down from the roof of the house with great expectations. They had the confidence of faith in Jesus that he could and would heal their friend’s lameness. But Jesus said, Your sins are forgiven. That’s where true blessing must begin. Otherwise, what’s so great about one more guilty sinner freely walking about in this sin-filled world?

As I confronted the shock of my cancer, the first word I needed from Jesus was, “Take heart, your sins are all forgiven.” Who knows? Maybe my sickness had come because of sin. But God’s Word and God’s Word alone gives assurance that all sins–past, present and future—are completely washed away in the blood of Jesus for all who trust in Him.

Are your sins forgiven? Whatever problem you face, answer that question first. Many people wrestle with a guilty conscience when tragedy comes. Hear these healing words of Jesus: If you trust in Him, your sins are all forgiven.

Two. He heals all your diseases. You should have no problem understanding what those words meant to me. They can mean the same thing to you. All your sicknesses Jesus heals. A vital element of the truth of salvation in Jesus is that he heals all your diseases. As many times as Jesus preached and taught the good news of salvation, he also healed. Jesus was constantly healing the sick.

Either in this life, or in the life to come, Jesus will heal all your sicknesses, all your diseases, all your infirmities. This life represents only a nano-second in the big picture of timeless eternity. Jesus came into this sick world “to bring many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10). Eternity would not be very “glorious” if you had to live with cancer growing throughout your body for eternity. Whatever your sickness may be, whatever your physical, spiritual, emotional, or mental weakness may be, Jesus heals all your sicknesses, all your diseases. Praise be to God for the completeness of your redemption, body and soul.

Three. He redeems your life from the pit. “Redemption” necessarily means paying a price. A soldier may be captured by the enemy. He can be redeemed, but a price must be paid. The price could be money, or a surrender of land, or an exchange of prisoners. But redemption means paying the price. Jesus paid the price for your redemption, if you trust in him.

But what is this “pit” from which you are redeemed? This pit could be the grave. Or it could be hell. If you are trusting Jesus, he has redeemed you from the pit of the grave and the pit of hell. He paid the price by going to the grave in your place and coming out again by his resurrection. He descended into hell experiencing the fullness of the wrath of God on behalf of sinners like you and me as he cried on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” By his sufferings, you can be redeemed. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

             Jesus paid it all,
                 all to him I owe;
            Sin had left a crimson stain,
                 He washed it white as snow.

Oh the blood of Jesus! Because he was the eternal son of God, the payment of his life has infinite value. His blood has the power to redeem an infinite number of people. But wonder of wonders! His payment to redeem sinners who deserve death like you and me was not paid into a general fund for anyone that might prove himself worthy of this redemption. Instead, he sacrificed his life as a ransom for many. Not for a few, not for all, but for many. Those “many” are the very ones chosen in eternity past as the objects of his special love. They are the same people as the very ones who cry out to Jesus, acknowledging their undeserved character and the infinite grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Redeemed how I love to proclaim it,
                 Redeemed by the blood of the lamb;
            Redeemed through his infinite mercy,
                 His child and forever I am.

Four. He crowns you with love and compassion. You might think God’s forgiving all your sins, healing all your diseases, and redeeming your life from the pit would be enough, and more than enough. Let’s not be greedy in this matter of blessings from the Lord. But the Lord insists on giving you even more. He crowns your life with love and compassion.

It may seem unthinkable. Yet imagine yourself walking down the street, driving in the car, going to work or school, with a glittering crown on your head. You may not even be aware that it’s there. But other people see it. God must love you so much! Even during your times of trial, other people can see a crown of God’s love on your head. His compassion compounds the glitter of your crown. Even when you are in the process of stumbling through the valley of the shadow of death, God’s love and compassion warmly embrace you. His banner over you is love.

God is love. To know God is to know love. God loved this world despite all its depravity. He gave up his Son so that anyone might experience the fullness of his embrace of love. I am persuaded. I am totally convinced that nothing, not even cancer, can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you know that love? Only the Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures as God’s Spirit communicates with your spirit will you be convinced of the length and breadth and depth and height of the love of God which surpasses knowledge. Trust him. Trust his Word. It is all together true. Christ Jesus came into the world out of love to save sinners.

Five. He satisfies your desire with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles’. When Elisha fed the 100, they all ate and were so satisfied that they had some left over (2 Kings 4:42-44). When Jesus fed the 5000, they all ate bread and fish. They were so satisfied that they had 12 basketfuls left over (John 6:1213). Just like God’s provision of manna in the wilderness, no one had too much; no one had too little; they were all very well satisfied.

Through this experience I am slowly learning to be satisfied. To know him is life itself in all its fullness. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11b-13). To be satisfied with every day’s appointments is one of God’s greatest gifts.

What satisfies you? The psalmist says, He satisfies your desire with good things. Not just one thing, but many things. Not all your desires, but all your desires for good things. God will not satisfy you with things that are not for your good. At the same time, he will not simply give you one good thing in life, and that will be it. He will constantly be satisfying you with many good things.

Perceive this amazing reality for what it is. The things that come into your life are good things, things appointed by God for your good and his glory. All the things he brings into your life are intended to satisfy you.

Are you able to accept from the Lord’s hand good and evil as did Job, and rest contented (Job 2:10)? Such a state in life comes only as a consequence of God’s immeasurable grace. But it’s real, and you can grow in the experience of that reality even though you have not yet achieved it perfectly.

What are the consequences of God’s satisfying your desire with many good things? Do you become fat, complacent, energy-less?

By no means. The impact of God satisfying your desire with good things is that “your youth is renewed like the eagles’.” You become energized. You soar to the higher heights. Your life takes on new meaning. Things get exciting. You can hardly contain yourself. You soar to the heavens like an eagle whose expansive wings capture every updraft. With no effort you soar through the heights of heaven.

That’s enough, is it not? Redeemed from the depths of the pit you soar to the heights of the heavens.

But is it real?

It’s far more real than you can imagine. “Beloved now we are the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Transformed, transfigured, metamorphosized, to the point that you are made like the Son of God. Obviously you will never be equal to him. But you will reflect his image more and more as the ages of eternity continue to roll along.

Blessings enough? I should say! Only God’s Word could promise so much, and fulfill so many promises.

Still full of faults and imperfections, this is my testimony. Through the undeserved blessings of God’s grace, I have spent 27 years in gospel ministry in the USA. Then 27 years in gospel ministry in Africa. Now I am beginning my third 27 years. I am eager and anxious to see what the Lord will do in his grace toward me in these coming years.

O. Palmer Robertson

Dr. Robertson is a teaching elder. He is the author of several books and articles, primarily viewing the scriptures from the perspective of the history of redemption.

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