Like cancer, bad history tends to recur, and there is only one radical treatment: invasive therapy to destroy the deadly cells. We have not done this. We dragged ourselves out of the Soviet Union and into the New Russia still infected with our Soviet disease. —Putin’s Russia, by Anna Politkovskaya
In a previous post, I mulled over Politkovskaya’s analysis of the difficulty Russia faces in truly transforming itself. Her description is in reference to the country as a whole, but her insights are no less true in regard to individual lives.
We each have patterns of life and heart that repeat, some for our good, some to our detriment. And more than just bad habits, we all have a cancer in the spiritual sense, called sin—”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), which prompts us to continue down paths that lead to more of the same. It takes quite a revolution to upset ourselves from these ingrained ruts—for our feet seek familiarity, even familiarity that is not necessarily for our good.
Our spiritual cancer also requires radical treatment—we are in desperate need of healing from the impact of sin. The only lasting answer to cancerous sin is the power of something stronger—in God’s great mercy, He provides that something stronger: “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6), so that even when we “were dead in [our] transgressions and the uncircumcision of [our] flesh, He made [us] alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14).
Often I can sense within me the deadly cells lurking and weighing me down, but I am not sure where to focus the treatment to gain my freedom and health. Even if I could identify a specific spot, there’s no way to conduct treatment upon myself—I am too close to the problem, and my dislike of present-moment pain keeps me from doing what needs to be done for long-term health.
In matters of heart and soul, I have found a gentle Physician who is able to do what I am not able to. Even so, it often takes quite a lengthy treatment before health emerges. It is encouraging to look back upon my life and see the progression of God’s treatment as He heals me of sin’s infection, bringing health and stability and freedom from the things that used to bind me to decay. This is a revolution that I am grateful for, even with its difficulties and pain.
Only by God’s grace do I avoid repeating history or dragging my old self into the new day.