Joshua Goodling: Terminal Cancer Survivor, Speaker, Author

When The Roof Caves In

By Joshua Goodling

It was a cold and wintry day in January 1986, and I was standing behind the counter of a popular fast-food restaurant, flipping hamburgers for the many hungry customers who would soon be cramming their way up to the order line.

Before we were expecting our mass of hungry customers, my father walked in and up to the counter. He wasn't there to order. He said; "Joshua, I hope you like your Wendy's uniform, because right now that is all the clothing you own. Our house just burned to the ground!" Not exactly something you want to hear everyday.

I come from a large family of seven children. I am the second oldest. For the past two years we had been living in a handmade log cabin in the central part of Georgia. We had no electricity or indoor plumbing. Our only "running" water was when we "ran" down to the corner store to fill our five gallon water jugs. We had been using a pot-bellied stove for heating and cooking, and an ice chest to store our food. It wasn't exactly the most luxurious living quarters, but it was all we could afford at the time, and it was our HOME.

As my family and I returned to the scene of our now former abode, all that was left was a pile of ashes. We had lost everything. Why God allowed this to happen, we didn't know.

Only a short three months earlier, as I was away at college, I received a telephone call saying my grandfather had just died. He had been hit by a drunk driver and had died from the complications resulting from the accident. That was probably the worst day of my life, since my grandfather had also been my best friend. As I flew to the funeral in Kentucky, once again there was that question; "Why did God allow this to happen?" I didn't know.

These are just two of the many incidents that have seemed to plague my family over the years. We soon got to the point where we said, "Well, at least nothing can happen to us that hasn't happened already." And to a very large extent that was quite true.

At the age of only four, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Because of the deadliness of this type of cancer, my doctors gave me only one week to live! They told my parents as far as they were concerned, I had zero chance of survival. For the next several months, I hung close to the borderline of death and once even stopped breathing. Again, there was that question: "Why did God allow this to happen?"

God miraculously healed me from the cancer. However, as a result of the radiation and cancer, my vocal chords were partially paralyzed, my growth was stunted, and several other scars would remain with me for life. Humanly speaking, my life was ruined. [Read Joshua's life story.]

At least this time I know the answer to the question, "Why God?" God has used my personal life story to be a challenge and encouragement to literally thousands of people across the United States and around the world.

God had a plan, and as usual, His plan worked!

I can honestly say, it was worth it to have cancer, in order to touch so many lives. As to the other two mentioned trials and problems, the house burning down, the death of my grandfather, I still don't know the answer, but one day I will. One day, I will see that it all worked together for good! I will understand what God's plan was and how it all worked for His glory.

We as humans are practically trained to ask; "Why God?" when a problem or trial comes in our life. We seem to expect everything to happen in our lives just perfectly. We want life to be a bed of roses, or a silver platter! However, without trials and troubles we would never learn to trust God.

Had I any control over the problems and circumstances that happened in my life? No, they were all carefully orchestrated by God. The Bible tells us; "And we know that all things work together for good to them who love God." (Romans 8:28) God has our life planned out to His perfect design. He is the contractor, we are simply the empty lot waiting for Him to develop His masterpiece upon.

Of course, the one mistake many people make is to get mad and upset at God when things, as we see them, go wrong. However, if you are a Christian, and you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me remind you of something! Your life NO LONGER belongs to you! Your life belongs to God! It is His to do with as He pleases.

The major problem with so many Christians today is that they have not allowed God to control their lives. They have not totally and completely surrendered everything to Him! They simply try to "tack" Christianity on to their comfortable lifestyle. That is not True Christianity.

When heartaches come and trials rear their ugly heads, it is easy to wonder how God could possibly be in the middle of all that you are going through, but He is. God is not the God of evil, but when trouble comes, He masterfully takes it and shapes it into an instrument of eternal purpose.

That's why James wrote in James 1:2-4, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."