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Salt or Savior?

January 24, 2023

“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26, NIV).

When he heard the words, “pancreatic cancer,” he felt God’s Spirit fill him with peace that has lasted through the last year. Now he hears the words, “Nothing more we can do,” and God’s peace has not left him. He knows Jesus is in total control, and he has spent his time witnessing to everyone who will hear. He told me, “Having a cancer is so much better than being hit by a car. I’ve had all this time to be with my family and draw others to Jesus. If I’ve got to go, I’m going to take as many people as I can with me to heaven. I’ve never asked God to take my cancer away, since it may not be His will. I’ve spent my prayers on the doctors and nurses who have treated me.”

I so love Paul’s passage in Philippians where he is struggling over the choice to remain in the body or to go and be with Christ. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will be fruitful labor for me…I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:21-23, NIV).

My patient above is living Paul’s understanding of life and not the “normal” understanding. He understands that life is short with or without cancer. He is filled with the “depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9) that, no matter the length of our lives, our days should be dedicated to “fruitful labor.”

Such urgent purpose of the Christian life is hard to grasp when life is good, when God’s blessings cover us like a warm blanket, living in comfort while others shiver in the darkness. Family, friends, beauty and adventure have been gifted us to enjoy and then use to glorify the One from whom they came. But often such blessings possess us such that we focus only on the gift and not the Giver, making the thought of leaving them a tragedy rather than triumph, even though we are headed for the One from whom all blessings come.

But then, the harsh reality of life breaks through, a reality that God had not planned in Eden. In these moments we can choose to focus only on the lost blessings, as did Lot’s wife, or to focus on the Creator who stands before us calling us to Him, not only for comfort, but for mission.

Dear God,
When the harshness of life comes my way, let me look to you, the “joy of (my) salvation” (Psalm 51:12, NIV).

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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