Author: Steve Durden
A Christian for many years. He works as an engineer in Southern California.
I grew up as an only child of Christian parents, who also were from small families. My parents took me to church when I was very young but stopped going when I was about 12 or so, which was fine with me because I didn’t like getting up early on Sunday mornings and didn’t enjoy social activities.
I had probably become a Christian a year or two before we stopped going. I always believed that Jesus died on the cross. However, when I was about ten or so, I understood that He died in my place when He died on the cross. The bad part about not attending church as a teenager was that I didn't know how to read the Bible and had doubts about my faith.
Those doubts continued even into college. I got involved in a Bible study on campus and started attending church there. The more I read the Bible, the more my doubts went away. One of my favorite verses is John 19:30; Jesus says, "It is finished" at the end of His suffering on the cross, which can be translated as “paid in full," indicating that while on the cross, Jesus completed the payment for my wrongs.
In my mid-30s, many years ago, I was married, with a family and a job I really enjoyed. However, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent two surgeries, one major, followed by two weeks in the hospital for chemotherapy. While I was certainly anxious about the diagnosis and treatment, I still knew that my eternity was assured because of what Christ had done for me, and the Lord got me through the treatment.
I felt truly awful, but I was able to complete the surgery and chemotherapy without serious physical complications. The Lord also got my wife and me through the difficult time afterward. Each month I had to get a checkup. One of the blood tests took a week for results, so I had to start the process again three weeks after one doctor's visit. The monthly tests continued for the first year after treatment, then dropped to bimonthly the second year, then to every six months for a while after that.
For these early years, there was a chance of cancer returning, so the anxiety right before each checkup was very high for both my wife and me. By God’s grace, there was no return of cancer. Beyond physical healing, the Lord also answered prayers for peace, allowing us to deal with anxiety and stress. Despite the frequent checkups, we were able to move forward with life, raising our family, being active at church, and continuing with my job.
How was I affected by this experience? Physically, it was painful at the time but only a few months in length. Spiritually, I probably did mature somewhat and had to trust God in new ways. Prior to my illness, I had heard people use the term “I covet your prayers”; I grew to appreciate that term and give thanks to the many people who prayed for me and to God who answered.
After going through such an experience, some people assumed that I had become a spiritual giant, which wasn’t the case at all. Since then, I've continued struggling with anxiety. Although seeing God work through the experience of cancer helped reduce anxiety about my health, I, nevertheless, developed worries about other areas of life. Dealing with anxiety has required my continued growth and learning to deal with issues one at a time. A verse to which I often turn is "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7). I still have fears but also have the promise that God didn’t cause the fears and offers to replace them with His Spirit.
As I've grown older, I've continued to grow in my appreciation of the Bible. While I always have questions, I've found many older questions gradually getting answered, although sometimes replaced with new ones. Each time I read through the Bible, I’ve seen new revelations.
In the last few years, I’ve been impressed by Bible’s many calls for generosity to the poor and justice for those oppressed, causing me to think about changes I need to make in my thoughts and actions. In spite of, or perhaps because of, having grown up in a state that had a poll tax to keep non-whites from voting, I was ignorant of the difficulties that many faced, including racial discrimination. I'm now hoping to discover how I can better be part of God's work of reconciling people to Himself and each other. God healed me from cancer, has been healing my emotional difficulties, and is continuing to teach me about Himself.