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Peace in the Lord
 

Fritz Chen, Toronto, Canada

Hallelujah! In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I testify. I am currently a member of the True Jesus Church in Toronto, Canada. In 1993, when I was still living in Taiwan, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my stomach (gastric lymphoma). The doctor first proposed to remove my whole stomach and then have me undergo chemotherapy. But as it turned out, the doctor removed only four-fifths of my stomach. And to my surprise, I didn't need to go through chemotherapy after the operation because the tumor turned out to be benign. Thank God, the doctors told me I was healthy. A year later I was reexamined, and everything was still fine. About that time, I decided to immigrate to Canada.

A Difficult Decision

In February 1998 my stomach problems recurred, and I was sent to the hospital. My condition was a lot more serious this time. For a long time I could not eat because the tumor took up so much space in my stomach. I was spitting out substantial amounts of blood and lost a lot of weight. I was virtually skin and bones. When brothers and sisters came to visit me, they could not help but cry for me because I looked like I was on the brink of death.

The doctors recommended that I should not undergo surgery because I was too weak and it would have been too risky to operate. They suggested that instead I skip directly to chemotherapy. However, I was even too weak to start treatment immediately.

After examining my reports, the surgeon was convinced that he could successfully operate on me, despite objections from the other doctors. At first, my family and I were inclined to forego the operation because it was too dangerous, and I myself was afraid of going through another operation. But after our prayers, we decided to hand everything over to God and take the surgeon’s advice. We believed that the hands of the doctor were under God's control, as is the life of man.

The operation was scheduled to take place two weeks later on March 16, 1998. But I thought that I would not last that long because my condition was worsening.

A New Realization

 

On one particular snowy night, the view outside my hospital window was very beautiful. At that time I could still walk, so I walked with my wife to the parking lot. She needed a break after having stayed with me in the hospital for such a long time. Before she left, I held her very tightly, thinking that we may no longer have the chance to be with each other. It was one of the most wonderful moments we ever had. How could I not have noticed or treasured such moments before?

We often overlook the happiness that is all around us, finding it only when we are about to lose it. Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!"(Mt 3:2). "Near" does not mean "to come," but rather that it is already here and right beside you. Jesus once said, "The kingdom of God is within you"(Lk 17:21).

Yet some still neglect this; they choose not to accept and follow the words of God, and hence lose the blessings of God's kingdom.

God's Grace During Trials

 

The period of time just prior to my surgery was the most critical and trying because I was dying. At times, I would even lose consciousness. But during that time, many people had wonderful experiences in their prayers. There were numerous times when my wife was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit in prayer and was filled with great joy. She could not understand why she felt so joyful while I was in great pain and at the brink of death. This is the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters from afar were also touched by the Holy Spirit during their prayers. In fact, they told my wife with all sincerity that I would recover. This is the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

On the evening I considered to be the gravest, I actually finished writing my will. I had vomited a lot of blood, and I thought that God was going to take my life back. My wife decided to spend the night with me in the hospital. By 5 a.m. she still could not fall asleep, when suddenly, she heard the sound of prayer from my bed. I was praying in tongues, and my voice was loud, clear, and with strength.

After hearing this sound of prayer, she felt comforted and fell asleep immediately. She thought that a person who could pray in such a way must be fine. I really don't remember praying that night. Again, I believe it was the comfort given by the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom 8:26).

I myself also experienced the great power of the Holy Spirit through prayer. I was trying very hard to forget the great physical and mental pain I was feeling and to concentrate during prayer. I tried to make it through by praying to God and relying on Him completely but I couldn't. I was in great distress. Everything was an obstacle to my concentration and many terrible thoughts came into my mind. That period was extremely difficult to go through.

But amazingly, once I set my heart to submit to the Lord, I gradually calmed down. The Holy Spirit interceded for me and the peace of God came into my heart. I no longer needed to consider how to pray or what to say to God; I simply said, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!" with nothing else in my mind.

The "Path through the Forest"

Thank God, I was able to sustain myself up to the day of the operation. I became very bad-tempered and sad during the few days prior to my operation, but the very day before my operation there was a great change in me. I became kind and gentle, and according to my wife, my face looked like that of "an angel." As I was wheeled into the operating room, she saw me peacefully wave to her, saying, "Peace be with you," as if we were bidding our usual good-byes. I did not feel anything special at that time, just that it was something I needed to do. Nor did I wonder whether or not I would come out of the operation.

Around 10 a.m. the doctor, sweating profusely, emerged from the operating room. Anxiously, he informed my wife that I was in a very critical state, completely beyond his expectations. The tumor was quite large, and it had swelled to a point that it was impinging on my liver. If he tried to remove the tumor, he might hurt the liver and quite possibly kill me. But if he did not remove the tumor and instead just sewed up the incision, I would have at most only two or three days to live.

The doctor had no confidence in proceeding with the operation, so he came out to consult with my wife whether or not he should continue. Thanks to God’s grace, He gave my wife the confidence to say, "Do what you can, and we will pray and rely on our God for everything else." The doctor then went back into the operating room.

During the operation, my family continued praying and singing hymns to pass this most critical time. A minister and a brother from the Toronto Church showed up unexpectedly, and they offered much comfort. The operation continued until around 4 p.m., when the doctor came out again and said to my wife, "Your God has saved him!" He described the operation as "searching for a path through the forest." He did not know how he managed to complete the operation, but his face showed that it was successful.

The Lord's Continued Guidance

 

The surgeon had removed all of my stomach and spleen, and parts of my pancreas and intestines as well. My entire digestive system was reconstructed. In spite of all that, thank God, my recuperation was very smooth and quick. Gradually, I could eat and absorb nutrients very nicely. After the surgery, I went through six sessions of chemotherapy within six months. Those also went smoothly.

When I left the hospital in April, I weighed 99 pounds (45 kg). The dietitian at the hospital told me that while I would gain some weight, it was unlikely that I would reach the weight of 132 pounds (60 kg), since I no longer had a stomach. But thank God, just three months later, my weight reached 136 pounds (62 kg) and has remained stable ever since. Now, I go back to the hospital for regular checkups but am no longer on medication. Everything is back to normal.

When I went back to Taiwan in February 1999, I visited my brother-in-law and a sister from our church, who is an anesthesiologist. They told me that there is a concept in surgical circles called "open and close." If a doctor realizes that the situation is out of his control or that there is only a slim chance for success, he does not have to continue the operation. He can simply close up the incision, without consulting the patient's family or taking the risk of continuing with the operation. My doctor could have done it that way, and I believe my family would not have blamed him. But he didn't. I believe it was God's guidance. Through the hands of the surgeon, God showed His power.

Peace Surpassing All Understanding

 

I often think about how common such a miracle is in our church. To God, it probably was nothing extraordinary. Jesus can raise the dead; so what is healing physical illness to Him? But to man, this is a great blessing that goes beyond human ability and understanding.

The greatest blessing that God gives us, however, is not the healing of our physical bodies or the blessings of this world. No matter how healthy we are, one day we will die. This is the limitation of the flesh. However, the greatest blessing that God gives us is peace in our heart and the hope of eternal life. These are the things that are real. If we seize the opportunity in our short and uncertain lives to seek true peace and eternal life, then our lives will be valuable and meaningful.

How does God make us realize this value and meaning? Through spiritual peace. When Jesus was born, a great company of heavenly hosts appeared, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men" (Lk 2:14).

Christ’s descent to earth is most glorious to God; and the most precious gift He brings to man is peace. True peace can only come through Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid"(Jn 14:27). The true peace from God is not of the world, it surpasses the world. "The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"(Phil 4:7).

A person is saved because of his faith, not by the miracle itself. For that reason, after Jesus heals a person, He always says, "Your faith has saved you." Now I am healed. God has shown me a great miracle. But the real miracle did not occur during the operation or after it. For me, it was just before the surgery, when my heart was filled with the peace of God and I was no longer worried about what would happen to me—that was my miracle.

When Paul and Silas were in prison (Acts 16:16-40), the actual miracle happened not at the moment that the prison doors opened and their chains came loose. Instead, it was the moment when they were praying and singing hymns to God, and later when they could have escaped but did not, so that the whole family of the jailer could be saved.

In moments like these, the peace and freedom from God gave them the spiritual power to overcome all physical boundaries so that they were no longer chained to anything anymore.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1). May all glory be unto the Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

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Jesus went about all the cities and villages, � healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matt 9:35)