Monday, August 21, 2017
I have been struggling with faith.
The first time Grace had cancer I didn't known I was a raging co-dependent. I thought God didn't want bad things to happen and when they did I assumed God made a mistake. I couldn't bear to see God making mistakes so I often tried to compensate for him. When Grace got cancer the first time I assumed if I could (insert good deed) then it would explain why God allowed it. It wouldn't be God's mistake if we saw something bigger and better come from it that outweighed the bad. Then it would seem like God had a plan all along and he just used cancer to prove how good things work out for those who love him.
And none of that is or was true.
God allows hard and bad things to happen. God is in control and he allows horrible things to happen and it's not because it was an accident, or an oversight, or because he's evil, or punishing people. We know this because he allowed Adam to sin. He allowed John the Baptist, Paul, and James to be beheaded and Peter to be crucified. He allowed Jesus to die on the cross. He allows many horrific things. But allowing is not the same as wanting or approving or causing it.*See explanation below
Life is hard. Horrifically hard on Earth. Because Earth was never meant to be heaven. When Adam and Eve brought sin into the world the physics of entropy began like a cataclysmic time bomb that worsens each day. Everything has been breaking, humans and the Earth itself, since sin entered. Our hope isn't that God will make this world perfect now, but that he's made a way for us to join him in heaven where everything is healed. I understand that now.
So that's why it's different this time.
On one hand, I don't know if anything, as good as it might have been, could justify the pain my daughter endured from cancer. (Still God brought many good things out of that time and out of our pain). This time I'm not trying to justify her cancer. I don't want to and I know I can't. To be honest, this time hurts my heart a lot more than last time. A lot more. We know what's to come and I'm terrified. I'm angrier at God than the first time. I'm more broken. And now that I have feelings I hurt. Some days I just want to go back into denial and pretend I can make things better by finding ways to outweigh the bad. But I can't. There is no justifying a child suffering cancer.
And I was struggling recently, because I thought that I didn't have faith in God because of how badly I have been hurting these last two weeks. I haven't felt his peace or his presence, and the first time Grace had cancer God's presence was palpable. Not this time. Only spiritual silence. My anger and fear and feelings of betrayal have been overwhelming.
But God has shown me two things. He reminded me that faith isn't always smiling and singing hallelujahs. It's not saying the "fix-it" Bible verses or pretending the fear and pain away. Faith is messy. Trusting in God can look a lot like grief and still be accepted by God as worship. I'm hurting so badly, but for once I'm being honest with God. I'm trusting that I can be broken and that he can bear me. That I can come with nothing and that he can accept me and carry the burden of our relationship. I have become the comatose child again, being spoon-fed by my father. I just wish I didn't have to come back to that so literally.
The other thing he's been showing me is the church. And I don't mean a church building, or even just the church we attend, but people who have loved us. A pastor friend of mine said that God gives us more than we can bear. And he does that because we were meant to live out faith in community, and when we're supporting each other, we can bear the unbearable together.
We are surviving Grace's cancer right now because of our friends and family and community- both people of faith and those outside our faith. I haven't felt God's presence in the way I long for, but again and again our people have made God's love for us real and tangible. And so I am grateful, not only for the gift cards, meals, emails, and etc, but mostly because people have become God's hands and feet and have shown me his love when I couldn't find him. In a large way, my faith in God is being supported by them.
I am broken. I am entirely grateful. And I am loved. Goodnight.
* Long explanation: God allowing evil and not causing/approving of evil is a hard concept. Here's an example that might help. We allow the "alt-right" to demonstrate and say horrible, evil things. We allow it because we understand that liberty and freedom are worth it. If we take away their freedom of speech than we begin to live in a dictatorship, even if it's a "good" dictatorship. As Americans we do not cause their hatefulness or approve of their evil, and even fight against it. Still we allow their horrific words and ideals for the sake of freedom.
God is love, and love can only exist in freedom. Real love can't be forced. We do and say horrible, evil things to each other. And God allows it because in order for any of us to love, we must have the ability to choose love and reject evil. Therefore our freedom allows the possibility of evil things to happen.
God does not agree with all our choices and that's why he put such severe penalties (hell) in place to try to deter us from harming each other. But we still do. We manage to hurt even the ones we love. God saw us through the lens of a Father, instead of the lens of a judge, and loved us as his broken children instead of evil people. He had compassion on us and sent Jesus to rescue us from the punishment we deserve. We can say with confidence then, that God allows evil but he does not cause it or accept it and he carries out justice against it. And rather than destroy us, he has rescued us.
Still not satisfied with that answer? Good. That's probably why we're friends. Try reading C.S. Lewis' "Problem of Pain," for a better and more thorough answer.
Posted by Melissa at 10:29 PM