“Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” (Isaiah 38:3)
“I’m sorry,” the doctor confesses. Sitting across from you holding a clipboard in his hand, he looks at you with a pained expression. “I have bad news for you.” Your blood pressure suddenly rises. Your palms begin to sweat. Real fear grasps a hold of your entire being. “The tests have come back and your cancer has returned in advanced stages. It’s terminal. I’m afraid you may only have a few months left to live. You will need to put your house in order.”
My cancer has returned?
Put my house in order?
Time stands still. The moment seems surreal. Rushing torrents of thoughts mix in with surging emotions that struggle to withhold the panic, the fear, the dread of one’s life coming to an end.
“Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” (Is. 38:2)
Hezekiah heard the same bad news. An ongoing illness caused him to inquire the prophet Isaiah about his future. And the Lord provided Isaiah with an answer.
It was not the answer that Hezekiah wanted to hear. He responded, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” (Isaiah 38:3)
Is that how you respond to bad news?
We may never have heard the message of terminal cancer, but other bad news has reached our ears. Our knees shake, our blood pressure rises, our tears to fall. The question tends to change quickly from “What, God?” to “Why, God?”
That’s what Hezekiah did. His immediate response was to justify his faith, his service, his loyalty to the one true God. He treated his faith as a means to protect him from evil or bad things in his life. “Why, Lord? Why have you allowed this to happen? What have I done to deserve this?”
Are blessings from God a badge of approval for our faithfulness? Are difficult circumstances a punishment for our sins or lack of faith? I believe the answer to both questions is a resounding no.
God is our loving father. Like any good father, He disciplines those he loves and pours out his best gifts “so that our youth is renewed like the eagles”. Blessings in life are bestowed because of his love, not our righteousness.
It’s important to remember that God does not want us to be attached to this life. He wants us to know that our life is terminal. The consequence from inherited sin is death. We are all going to die someday. Like a good doctor sitting across from us with a clipboard in his hand, God delivers this news to us. And sometimes, this news comes in the form of difficult circumstances that he allows in our life. God’s message is this,
Put your house in order.
Our life on this earth pales in comparison to eternal life in heaven. Put your house in order by being right with God. Receive the forgiveness of sins that Christ won for us on the cross. Trust the promises of Christ and immediately receive the status of God’s heir, already perfect, fully worthy and holy to be in God’s presence.
The Lord remembered Hezekiah and granted his request for an extended life on earth. The Lord gave a sign and allowed time to stand still (v. 8). He allowed time to retrace its steps.
Perhaps the Lord also grants us time to put our house in order by retracing our steps. Instead of waiting for that time when pending death looms at our door, we retrace our steps and ask for forgiveness from people who matter or extend forgiveness from pain that harbors in our hearts. Perhaps we remove the guilt of past sins that continually haunt our conscious and get in the way of our present relationships.
Hezekiah recorded a prayer after being healed that still resonates today. “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.” (v. 17)
There is nothing in our life that God doesn’t know about. With each and every circumstance, God simply desires for us to draw closer to Him. Let’s put our house in order today. Let’s recognize and acknowledge that our sins are forgiven right now. Out of appreciation for what Christ has already done for us, why not put our house in order by extending forgiveness to others, to remove any guilt that chains us, to experience the unrestrained joy and peace of a surrendered life.
We can pray,
“Thank you Lord for your goodness, your mercy, and your grace. We come before you today to ask for your help in keeping my house in order. My body is your temple, your dwelling place. Remove anything that needs to be removed in my life so that it reflects your presence, and not my sin. Thank you, Lord, for I acknowledge that my life on earth is terminal, that I do not hold on to your blessings here on earth, but reach out with faith to the eternal blessing that awaits for me in heaven. Amen!”