The Lord promises that he will never leave us, or forsake us … even when you get a Stage IV cancer diagnoses at age 31. We can have a confidence that we will always be given the Grace to make it through today with our faith intact.  But, I stand here today and want to encourage you to read, that you might not be content with merely surviving, but that you might THRIVE in the midst of life and its promised hardships.
It was just over two years ago that I started devoting more time to the study of books, letters, and commentaries by past men of the faith. It started with one book about the life of John Newton and quickly moved into more of his works as well as books and sermons by other mighty men from the 16, 17, and 1800s. I am convinced that the Scriptures are sufficient and all that is truly needful; however, our souls will profit greatly when we witness the trials, sufferings, and Christ exulting thoughts of those that have come before us. Spurgeon, in his sermons, has taught me to have high and admiring thoughts of God. Edward Fischer taught me to LOVE the law and the pursuit of holiness, Richard Baxter to have a deep longing for Christ’s presence and communion with Him, but John Newton has taught me how to live! 
“He has given me a desire to trust my all in His hands, and He will not disappoint the expectation which He Himself has raised!”
“Nothing can harm me that quickens my earnestness and frequency in applying to the throne of Grace: I need only trust the Lord and keep close to Him, and all that befalls me shall be for good!”
“I have nothing to fear from death; for Jesus, by dying, has disarmed it of its sting, has perfumed the grave, and opened the gates of glory for His believing people.”
Its quotes like these, and 100s like them that have occupied my thoughts since being diagnosed with cancer. Newton has served as a beacon in life’s dark trials. His works shine as a light filled with the glorious truths of scripture – a light filled with hope and joy for a more durable life than this that will soon follow! God has supplied us rich stores of His grace for every trial, but He has also supplied us examples like John Newton to aide us in our fights! Brother and sisters, I encourage to read, that you might not simply survive the sufferings that will befall each and every one of us but that you might find joy in the midst of them!
Romans 8:18 sums it up perfectly, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not even worth comparing with the glory that will soon be revealed to us.”

Cornerstone Church of Knoxville