Yesterday I underwent a second minor surgery in as many weeks for basal cell skin cancer on my face. This really is not serious and I’ve gone through this a half dozen times. Yesterday was more painful, however. Shots in the nose to numb the infected place don’t feel good! After the dermatologist takes off one layer, you go into a waiting room with a half dozen others who are similarly affected—all sporting large bandages across the nose or other facial parts. I would surmise that everyone is secretly praying while they wait that the doctor would have gotten all the cancer on the first round. Wait time between rounds averages forty-five minutes to an hour.
Well, suffice it to say, that yesterday half the people were sown up after round #1, and nearly another half after round #2—all except for me. The dermatologist was finally successful with me after round three. That means getting numbed up four times and lots of pokes in the nose and surrounding area throughout the day. We ended up being there six or seven hours.
To my shame, I was beginning to murmur when I was the only one left in the room. Two providential things helped, however. One was a sweet old Methodist lady who kept telling us that her life was in God’s hands so that it didn’t matter how many rounds she had to undergo. Her testimony was rather humbling.
But second, and more helpful, was the book I was editing throughout the waiting times—the first ever biography on the Puritan Arthur Hildersham, which Reformation Heritage Books hopes to publish next month. Just as my murmuring began to pick up, I came to a remarkable section of the book about the afflictions that Hildersham had to endure in his life, and how he then wrote about eight helps for coping with affliction. Here they are in shorthand:
1. Think about affliction, expect it, and prepare for it before it comes.
2. Wean your heart from loving earthly things so that when losses and crosses come, you will be able to bow under them in sweet submission.
3. Acquaint yourself thoroughly with the Scriptures, for they prepare people for affliction, and teach us patience and comfort in affliction, like no other book can.
4. Labor to realize how sinful you really are, so that you will understand that what you are enduring is nothing compared to what you deserve.
5. Before the trial comes, make sure you get a true and living faith, and a comfortable assurance of your reconciliation with God through Christ, for faith in Christ and assurance of your soul’s well-being in Him will enable you to drink “the bitterest potion from His hand.”
6. Remember that you possess the hope of eternal glory if and when you die.
7. Before affliction comes, be careful “to lead a godly life, and to get a good conscience.”
8. Let prayer strengthen you in every trial.
What a help these eight takeaways were for me yesterday! How can a believer murmur after meditating on a list like this? Truly, God is better to us in our worst trials than we are to Him in our best righteousness and most godly moments.