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Paul Brug; wife Jody; and four children

A pastor with brain cancer finds true strength

"In August 2018, I was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer."

That's how Paul Brug, first a parish pastor and then a teacher and coach at Shoreland Lutheran High School, Kenosha, Wis., started his blog named “Nothing can separate.” In this blog, Paul shared his reflections on God’s grace and promises as he battled cancer. He died April 20, 2020, at the age of 48. Here are a few of his posts.

Sept. 2, 2018—On being strong
“You got this.” “You’re the strongest person I know.” “You’re such an inspiration.” Many of you have said things like this to me over the past few weeks. And I appreciate it. I really do. If God is glorified in my response to cancer, I am humbly grateful for that.

At the same time, though, these statements make me feel a little uncomfortable. First of all, like everyone else, I have fallen short—often way, way short—of living God’s way, glorifying him, and showing love to the people around me. God doesn’t owe it to me to cure my cancer. He doesn’t owe me anything. Actually, it’s the other way around. I owe him, and I haven’t come close to giving him what he deserves.

And it’s not as if I am perfectly strong in every way all the time. This whole thing is a roller coaster for me just as much as it is for anyone else. In fact, I think it ironically can be discouraging to think that you have to be strong and positive all the time. It’s an impossibly high standard to live up to for weak human beings.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the importance of a positive attitude. As a coach, I understand how important it is for athletes to believe that they can be successful. . . .

But there are limitations to what a positive attitude can do. If God calls me home to heaven through this cancer, it won’t be because I wasn’t strong enough or positive enough or because he doesn’t care. And if God extends my life, it won’t be because I was better or stronger or prayed harder than someone else. It will be because he is loving and merciful and uses all things for our good.

I’m not stronger than cancer, and I can’t make the cancer go away simply by the power of my will. But I know Someone who can. And any strength, hope, or comfort I have has to come from him.
Paul and Jody Brug
Paul Brug with his parents John and Irene
Featured photo at top pictures Paul Brug with his wife, Jody, and their four children. Here Paul is shown with Jody and then with his parents, John and Irene Brug. To see more photos and read other quotes from Paul's blog, watch his memorial video.

Check out March's virtual Bible study

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If you missed Pastor Greg Lyon's March 26 virtual Bible study, you can watch the recording and benefit from Lyon's insights on the topic "What if it's true . . . that God wants your broken heart."

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