*****Dear Friends- First: This post is NOT pointed at any person- people I know. It’s about an ideology/theologies that have been hurting us during our cancer battle. The truth is I’ve been bumped by this everywhere from Target to restaurants and the Cancer center. There are versions of this that are secular, buddhist and universalist in it’s roots- wherein you are the creator of your own reality based on what you believe. I have experienced all of the above with a similar response: hurt. Because I believe this:
“I trust God, regardless of the outcome.” I’m a heretic, I know.
It’s taken a LOT to get here. Hours of prayer- study and searching of scripture- meditation and contemplation. Lots of tears and crying out to God. Honestly? The “crying out” has sometimes been yelling. I’m not afraid to tell God exactly how I feel, what I think or what I’m begging for…I fully believe God can handle my emotion. (He created it. He already knows the truth about it- why pretend I feel any different? If there’s one place I can be brutal honest and understood- it’s with God, in my opinion.)
Yet- there is a whole segment of Christianity that judges me because of this trust. “You have to believe XYZ. Then- your husband will be healed.” When I bring up the whole: there are no guarantees of God’s healing in every circumstance- and that I believe he CAN heal- but -that he doesn’t always” thing, I get glares of contempt over my disbelief at worst and condescending looks and pats with with promises of prayer that God would increase my faith at best.
Here’s the thing. It breaks my heart. Cancer is hard enough to go through -without heaping spiritual judgment on top of it. My husband’s healing is dependent on GOD- not us. Scripture tells us all it takes is a mustard seed of faith for God to move mountains. I doubt healing requires perfect faith. I also doubt that man can manipulate God by believing enough in what they want-or being “good enough” that God has to do it. Man (and woman) is not sovereign over God. God is sovereign over man.
I’m not alone in seeking healing and asking God to do something to (thus far) be told no-
- Paul prayed three times for the thorn in his flesh to be removed. It wasn’t. Paul decided to allow God to use it for his glory.
- Jesus prayed that the cup before him would be removed if there was any other way- but that God’s will would be done.
- When asked who’s sin caused a man to be blind- his or his parents- Jesus refused to point fingers of blame- he brought glory into the circumstance. (The belief system I’m talking about also sometimes believes that disease or early death is caused by either a lack of faith- or sin. Which just adds guilt to the equation of sickness.)
- People die and get sick every day, including children. When people try to convince me that this is caused by God’s judgment- their lack of faith- or their parent’s lack of faith- it makes me want to scream: Hello! Have you read the new testament? God is gracious. God loves. The Beatitudes are all about how God is with us in our pain, our poverty, our brokenness.
The bible says it’s appointed for each of us to die. Why? When? That, it actually- doesn’t say. I’ve yet to find my name and date of death in there. Or my husband’s.
I know- I know- this theology has a rebuttal for every verse I’m pointing out. I know- this blog will not change anyone’s theology- nor do I want it to. It’s not my job, or calling.
Here IS my job and calling: to speak the truth about how this theology is hurting us. And how I’ve seen it hurt others.
The truth is- I’ve experienced this theology play out to it’s very end. Many, many years ago- a friend became sick. Seriously sick. She absolutely believed this theology. So did her family. She prayed. Her family prayed. She cut herself off from anyone who didn’t believe the same way she did- so as not to be tainted by their errant ways or have them affect or damage her faith and so- damage her potential for healing. (By having or casting doubt on God’s will for her healing.)
I watched as she begged for and believed for healing. She believed it with all her heart. I watched as she bore guilt over her sickness. (She believed it must have been caused by something she’d done.) I watched as she repented and begged for forgiveness for the cause of her illness. I watched as she refused medical intervention because she believed that to allow medical intervention – would be to show doubt in God. (This was- admittedly a pretty extreme form of this belief system.)
Ultimately- I watched her die. At a young age. With young children. It was heartbreaking. It would have been heartbreaking- regardless of her theology-however-at her funeral and long after— I wondered and feared- “Is this family feeling guilt and condemnation that they didn’t believe enough- on top of such an already horrible loss? Are they feeling like it’s their fault she’s dead? Ar they blaming her lack of faith? Her sin? Could this really be what God wants us to go through when sick and hurting or when we lose a loved one?”
I don’t think so. That so doesn’t sound like God- or the Jesus who died that we can live- that it literally makes me nauseaus. And- angry. Really angry, actually, I feel it misrepresents God’s loving care, mercy, grace and sovereignty.
Which leads us to today: When I’m facing my husband’s diagnosis of aggressive cancer. A man I know better than any other. A man whom I know seeks and loves and trusts God, and is not perfect. A man I know believes in God’s ability to heal. And a man I also know is very ill. (And very fine at the same time- it’s still surreal- actually. My husband’s cancer has yet to directly affect any organs other than it’s original place of invasion. For the most part- he feels fine- even though he’s technically- very ill.)
A man who I love and respect enough to become infuriated when others judge him-(us) and blame his lack of faith -for his cancer and yet to be found healing. You’re not helping.
Here is what I hope for:
I hope and pray that God will heal. I have no doubt- that he can.
I also hope and pray- that if God chooses not to heal- that instead of standing in judgment- that others would stand along side us. Love us. Comfort us. Do not blame us. In word, or in your heart. It hurts. Honestly? It feels like we’re already struggling to carry the cross we’ve been given to bear with Christ’s help– and that you are nailing extra pieces of wood onto it and making it heavier- uglier, harder to carry. Cancer is enough- I don;t need your condemnation added to it.
Daily- I pray that God will pry my fingers from this burden- either remove it- or carry it or carry us through it.
All that said: I can only ask. (Contrary to my own belief on occasion) I’m not the holy spirit. I don’t pretend to know all of God. Or even all about God. Maybe you’re right and I’m wrong. But- I do know that your judgment doesn’t change or help me.
It hurts. And- I’ve seen it hurt others.
So.. if you’re going through a cancer diagnosis- and treatment-take heart. You’re not alone.
If you feel judged by others because you are trusting God regardless of the outcome- you’re also- not alone.
If you fully believe that it’s always God’s will to heal and if he doesn’t- it’s because of a lack of faith or obedience on the part of the afflicted- Please be careful. what you say and believe- can hurt the already hurting. And- as someone who’s prone to pride- I can say- when I think I know better than others- I’m usually teetering on the edge of pride. Be careful not to topple over that edge. (I’m doing the same. I always think I’m right. I’m human. And a mom. It’s what we do.) And- as I learned from my beloved friend who was stricken, died and went to her grave bearing that hurt- self inflicted as it may have been- beware that these beliefs can hurt you, too. And- if you believe this way and are joyfully experiencing life and healing and grace- I’m truly happy for you- and I know you aren’t alone- either;) I’ve met many who believe as you do-I have respected each one and appreciated their prayers. I hope you;ll offs me the same grace.
I believe we can agree to disagree without judging each other’s salvation or heaping condemnation on each other.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as condemnation- I hope it comes across as an explanation of how that judgment can make those in the fray of a life threatening battle feel.
“dear lord- I believe you can and do heal. I ask you again, to heal my dear husband. I ask you- that if his healing has been delayed because our faith is jacked up-and we’re not believing enough….I pray that you would provide wisdom and healing for our broken faith. Increase our faith lord- always be increasing our faith. Lord- my heart and study shows that is not the case. I believe that you are near the brokenhearted and are with us- even here. In cancer. Lord- if you heal- the glory is yours. If you don’t heal- the glory of the comfort I know you will provide and the eternal healing and wholeness you also provided on the cross -will get all the glory. I love you lord- and I trust you- wherever you lead. In life or death. In healing or sickness. Let me be content in you. Amen.”
*** Please don’t use my blog as a place to bash or attack people who believe different from you- if you’ve been hurt by this kind of ideology- keep things as respectful as possible when you share in the comments. We aren’t enemies here….Retaliatory or hurtful comments will be deleted. Honest dialogue is encouraged. 😉