Eric Liddell, memorialized in the film Chariots of Fire, won a gold medal in the 1924 Paris Olympics before going to China as a missionary. Some years later, with the outbreak of World War II, Liddell sent his family to safety in Canada, but he remained in China. Soon Liddell and other foreign missionaries were interned in a Japanese detainment camp. After months of captivity, he developed what doctors feared was a brain tumor.
Diamonds are beautiful and valuable gemstones, but their beginning is common carbon—black, dirty, and combustible. Through years of intense heat and high pressure, they become pure and strong. This makes them a good metaphor for spiritual strength; God uses intense outside forces to rid us of impurities and to perfect His strength in us.
You can learn a lot by walking with others through tough times. That’s been the case for us as our friends Sam and Carol have trudged through Sam’s cancer journey. For a year we watched and prayed as he endured the treatment and the pain. And just when it seemed he was in the clear, a new diagnosis reported more cancer.
After my doctor announced that I had cancer, I tried to listen to what he said, but I couldn’t. I went home, pulled a blanket over my head, and fell asleep on the couch, as if sleeping could change the diagnosis.
My father (Richard De Haan) had been battling a debilitating disease for many years. We asked the Lord to take him home. But as I knelt by his bed and watched him take that last breath, the tears I had choked back on other occasions came out like a flood. As my brothers and my mother hugged and prayed, the finality was overwhelming.