„If Jesus only heals me in Heaven, he still heals me. And what happens? I’m with the one who is love, right now, here. And if I die, I go to him face to face forever.“
If you don’t live in the German-Speaking world, you most likely have not heard of Philip Mickenbecker- seen above in a video interview with Bibel TV on the program „Das Gespräch“ („The Conversation“). Together with his twin brother, Johannes, and friends who helped them build things like a flying bathtub and a DIY-submarine, the German YouTube star was one of The Real Life Guys. Their YouTube channel and startling array of insane mechanical projects for which The Real Life Guys became famous can be found at this link. Enjoy. You’re welcome.
He entered eternity at the young age of 23 last week, succumbing to the lymphatic cancer he had first been diagnosed with at the age 16. Mickenbecker had survived two nearly fatal rounds of cancer and had been cancer-free for some months until his symptoms returned this past April. His passing came as a shock to his millions of fans and followers, not merely because of his past survival of the disease, but because he also had shown recent improvement and was upbeat about his chances of recovery, either in this life or the next.
He had been quite open about his illness. On another that channel Philipp started with his brother and friends, Life Lion, the Mickenbeckers and friends spoke more directly about their Christian faith and hard topics, such as the theodicy problem, making sense of life. They interviewed guests about their escapes from drug addiction and sexual exploitation and talked quite openly about the loss of their sister in an aircraft crash and Philipp’s struggles with lypmphatic cancer. The channel gave the German-speaking public a consistent and seriously joyful witness to life with Jesus during circumstances that like unto those typically used by skeptics to attack faith in God’s goodness, love, even God’s existence. Through his videos, public speaking events and bestselling book, his testimony to God’s love and faithfulness in suffering has had and is continuing to have an influence on millions here in central Europe. It is also the first book I have seen hit #1 in the categories „Spirituality and Religion“, „Adventure Travel“ and „DIY Home Projects“ simultaneously on Amazon Germany.
Wenn Du Deutsch kannst, findest Du das Buch vom Verlag hier: Philipp Mickenbecker: Meine Real Life Story und die Sache mit Gott – adeo-verlag.de.
Mickenbecker faced death, a particularly painful death even, with his faith not only intact, but vibrant. His final weeks in a way embodied a line from the Epistle to the Hebrews that is often overlooked, namely Chapter 2, Verse 14:
„Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.“
Jesus took on humanity to …well, to fulfil many purposes… but the one addressed above is to break the power of death. If you have been born again, if you have become part of that hope of glory, Christ in you, the power of death truly has been broken in your life forever, whatever pain, trials and suffering you may (and will) endure in this life. You get to begin life knowing the love, joy, peace, and beauty of God and life eternal already on this broken, poisoned, afflicted Earth, and will know all these things in a greater measure and without the affliction, poison and brokenness of this world on passing from this life. The truth is, as Paul put it in 2nd Corinthians 4:17, our afflictions, even lymphatic cancer, are light and momentary compared to the weight of glory the Lord works in us through them. Which point brings me to that „problem with the problem of evil“. The problem is, granting that evil has the weight to tip the scale against the good is categorically wrong. All suffering eventually ends, and before it ends, even, it is forgotten. And even before it is forgotten, love and joy can overwhelm it. The brief life of Philipp Mickenbecker has provided a generation of youth in Europe with a testimony to this reality. May it bear much fruit.
The same problem applies of the evils we do. As William Langland put in Piers Plowman, „All the wickedness in the world that man might do or say was no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea.“ But that is a point to explore at a later date.
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