All around me I am seeing Christianity being advertised as something that will make you feel better. God has become someone that exists to take away our problems and turn our lives into a fairy tale with a happy ending. Christianity is being taught as a social lubricant--it is a nice thing, and people feel good when they do nice things. But with this, we find that yeah sure, not a lot of people are opposed to Christianity, but at the same time there are not many people who are strongly devoted either. In order to make it more appealing, the church is offering a Christianity that is watered down, and it is turning into nothing more than Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
Now, as I keep reflecting on the past few years, I see that there have been quite a few struggles that I have encountered. I got to thinking that if I believed in a God that existed to make my life better and easier, then after going through the things I have recently, I should have no faith left. A feel good God hasn’t been doing a very good job at making my life feel super good all the time.
Thank GOD, that is not the God that is omnipotent. While it may seem backwards, the God I worship actually calls me into suffering. There are things in this world that are not good, but He has already suffered them, and still remained good. And through my trials, I am confident that He is good no matter which way my life turns.
Last week I got to witness a miracle. My friend, and teammate noticed that she her lymph nodes were swollen. She had me feel them while we were warming up for our 4x1 relay. We thought it was weird that they were so big, and yet she didn’t feel sick at all. We laughed at the possibility of her slowly turning into a dinosaur, and then dismissed it as we prepared for our race. A couple of days later, she ended up going to the hospital due to the nodes increasing in size. She was quickly emitted and referred to an oncologist to biopsy the growths. They put her under as they removed the node completely to send it to the labs, however, the oncologist, seeing similar cases every day, gave her the odds. There was a 92% chance that it was cancer. He was so sure it was some form of lymphoma, he started to discuss with her and her family about how she would need to start chemo treatment as soon as possible. Additionally, because chemo was so aggressive, it would in turn make her sterile, so she needed to start thinking about if she wanted to harvest her eggs in the hopes of having a child of her own one day. As you can imagine, this was a lot to take in. It seemed as though her whole life as she knew it was going to change.
The next day, the oncologist came running to her room. The results were in, and to the shock of everyone, they did not include cancer! Instead, she had a rare disease that is usually only found in young Asian women called Kikuchi-Fujimoto (…she is far from Asian, making it even more rare). Not only was it great news that she didn’t have cancer, but Kikuchi-Fujimoto is a disease that doesn’t even need treatment, her body would naturally take care of it and the swollen nodes would simply dissipate in time. Praise Jesus for His healing and for His mercy! This was a time to celebrate!
A couple of days later we had a track meet out in San Marcos. As I was in the midst of my normal warm-up routine, I noticed one of the girls on my team just kinda zoning out. I went up to her and asked how she was doing. Immediately her eyes started to well up, “track wise, or life wise?” she asked. “Both.” “Well. I’m not feelin so good about this race. And well, this week has been rough.” Her eyes started to water even more. Just a few months prior, her mother passed away after a long battle against MS. “I mean, of course I’m thrilled that Jenn is healed. And I hate that I feel this way, but I can’t help but feel some jealousy. It’s great that Jenn doesn’t have cancer, but why did she get healed and my mom didn’t? For all the people praying for my mom, and the people depending on her, and for what a beautiful, wonderful heart she had for the Lord, why did she have to die? Why? What makes the situations different? I don’t get why she couldn’t get healed.”
At this point I found myself wiping my eyes as well. I had no words to give her, so we just stood there and cried for a little while. It was a beautiful moment of simply being present. And while I think that these moments are very needed, it still bothered me that even after I couldn’t come up with a solid answer to that very loaded “why” question. So I started doing some searching.
The Word is the place where the Lord reveals himself, so I started there.
We find honesty in scripture. In Acts, James dies, but Peter is released from prison. Why? Sometimes healing comes now, and sometimes healing comes at the resurrection.
John the Baptist sends to ask if Jesus is the one that is to come, or if they should be waiting for someone else. Being in jail, what John wants to hear is that the captives are set free, yet that is not the message he hears in return. Instead, he hears “blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Luke 7:23) In other words, blessed are those that don’t stumble just because they do not understand what Jesus is doing. But trust enough to not try and take things into their own hands. John wants to hear that the captives are set free, but what he needs to hear is that the dead are raised!
What it comes down to isn’t an answer that we ever really like to hear. There is no one way of addressing the why of things we don’t understand happening.
Except to trust.
Trust that the God we believe in is a good God, even when our circumstances are anything BUT good. Trust that while we may be broken now, we will be healed and will get to experience the resurrection. Our hope and our trust is not in what is seen, but in what is unseen.