Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

As a Christian who has been ‘around the block’ for some time, I have seen a lot of things, experienced a lot of things and not surprised by a lot of things. In some of my latest posts, you may have seen a change of my tone. This is because I am fed up and frustrated with Christians being fed false hope, being afraid to ask difficult questions in life. Nearly everywhere I turn, I hear messages about blessings, breakthroughs and divine favor, and not truly understanding the reality of being a christian. Because of some of those messages from the pulpit, when something happens like a Christian dying at 37 from cancer or something else disastrous happens in their life that they do not expect to happen to them as a Christian, they become disillusioned with the whole Christian faith because they have been blinded by and fed false promises.

So when I came across an article by C Michael Hatton on the Reclaiming the Mind Blog, it caught my eye because it tackled a question by an unbeliever head on. “Will God protect my children if I decide to come to him?” We could come with a text book answer with “Yes because you are a child of the King and he will protect you and your family” but I know from experience that the Christian life does not guarantee you any protection on earth.

I have placed the article in full below and I pray that you will swallow this hard truth more than a soft lie.

Will-God-Protect-My-Children

Will God Protect My Children?

My friend was not a Christian, but he was seriously considering it. He was one of my wild friends from my younger, crazier days. We used to drive from bar-to-bar looking for nothing but trouble.

We often talked about Jesus. I was one of those dichotomous Christians who did what he could to evangelize while neck deep in the clutches of carnality (now I am just dichotomized in other ways!).

He was an atheist and pretty determined to stand his ground. Initially, our reconnect involved uncomfortable re-telling’s of our former days of sin along with some (compromising?) laughter about such.

But we spent the next year talking about Christ Here we were a decade later having the same types of conversations during a different stage of life. He’s married with kids. I’m married with kids. He’s thinking about bigger, more profound things. I’m teaching about bigger and more profound things.

Hurdle #1 – “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

I was very excited and prayerfully hopeful about what God might be doing in his life. We talked on the phone about once a week. Often, late into the night. During these talks, he would present his objections and questions and I would present the possible answers. Sometimes he put his wife on speakerphone to ask her own questions and listen along.

I sent him a couple of books that really helped him overcome some of his misunderstandings concerning the nature of Christianity. Primarily, he saw Christianity as a legalistic set of “do’s and don’ts.” He had never even come in contact with the idea of grace. Our conversations culminated in his reading of Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening. He was refreshed. Hurdle #1, successfully jumped.

Hurdle #2 – Intellectually Naive

In the backdrop of our conversations was his perception that Christianity was naive, with no place for serious intellectual conversations. We talked much about this and I sent him a copy of one of my favorite apologetics books (save the Open Theology leanings) Letters to a Skeptic byGregory Boyd (I told you I loved Gregory Boyd!). He slowly began to see that the central tenets of Christianity were not only sustainable but ultimately persuasive. Hurdle #2: successfully jumped.

Through this process, his objections were slowly losing steam. It was incredible to see the slow transformation of his mind. The misinformation was corrected as intellectual conviction grew. He had only one step left: an act of the will to stand before Christ and proclaim his helpless condition and ask for mercy. We were almost there.

The Unexpected Question

It was the day of Angie (my sister’s) funeral. He came to my parent’s house along with many other guests after I had preached at the church. He sat by the side of the house, timidly lurking about, not really knowing what to say. He knew Angie well and, like the rest of us, wasdevastated and confused by her passing.

When we finally talked (it was the first time that I had seen him since our reconnect), I could tell something was on his mind, something that the tragic circumstances of that week brought to his mind. We began to talk outside by his car. He mentioned my sermon at the funeral and seemed very appreciative. We talked a bit about Angie and many of our friends that had shown up.

Then things turned serious.

Grief in Dialogue

“Look, Michael,” he said, as if all our conversation until this point was just a deterring prelude to something more, “I get it!”

“Get what?” I responded.

“I get it. Call me whatever you want—a believer, Christian, or whatever… I get it. I believe. I believe all that stuff about Christ.”

Then there was some silence. I knew there was something more coming.

He continued, “But I am scared.”

“Scared of what.”

“You love Jesus and have been doing so much for him,” he said. ”Yet look at what has happened to you. Look at what happened to your sister. Look at the pain of your family. Look at your mom. Especially your mom. Your poor mom. She has always been into Jesus. She is the best example of a Christian I know of. Look at what God is doing to her. I am scared. I am scared of God.”

Will God Protect My Children?

After another period of silence he asked the question of the hour, “Will God protect my children?” He went on, “Will he protect them or is he going to do to me what he did to your mom? Because from where I sit it looks like if you follow the Lord too closely, he brings terrible things into your life. I love my children and I am scared to death that he might hurt them or take them from me because I follow him… to test me or something. I don’t want that.”

Questioning God’s Intentions

My friend was no longer questioning the reality of God, Christ, the resurrection, or even his own need for a savior. He was questioning God’s plan. He was questioning God’s intentions. Simply put, he was scared of God.

This is really the broader question of suffering. But it is also particular. It is not, “Why does God allow suffering in general?” It was not even a “why?” question. It was a “will?” question. Whatwill God do? What can I expect as a child of God? Is He going to require too much of me? It is a question of counting the cost of following the Lord.

How do we answer such questions? How should we answer them to avoid misinterpreting God?

3 Really Bad Answers

Wrong Answer #1

Yes, of course he will protect your children. That is one of the benefits of being a child of God. Sign the dotted line.

I have searched throughout the Scriptures and cannot find any guarantees that when we follow the Lord, we, along with our loved ones, fall under a shield of protection that guarantees physical longevity, health, or safety. Believe me, I have searched for such promises.

My friend Trevin Wax in his book Counterfeit Gospels calls this the “Therapeutic Gospel.” It is the Gospel that offers benevolent guarantees of mundane goodness. It is the Gospel that says that once you have faith in God, you can expect physical blessings and security. About this Trevin says:

“If you believe that coming to Christ will make life easier and better, then you will be disappointed when suffering comes your way. Storms destroy our homes. Cancer eats up our bodies. Economic recessions steal our jobs. If you see God as a vending machine, then you will become disillusioned when your candy bar doesn’t drop. You may get angry and want to start banging on the machine. Or maybe you will be plagued with guilt, convinced that your suffering indicates God’s disapproval of something you’ve done. When we emphasize the temporal blessings that come from following Christ, we plant the seeds for a harvest of heartbreak.” (p. 54)

Wrong Answer #2

No, he will not protect your children. There is a good chance that God will take them from you to test your faith. Its called “bearing your cross.”

This is also an answer we must avoid. Suffering and evil are a part of the fall and are in God’s hands. While God uses suffering to bring us closer to Him and while we should not be surprised by these type of trials (1 Pet 4:12), we don’t know what God is going to do in our lives.

Matthew 5:45 says that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Suffering and pain are part of life. They are a part ofeveryone’s life. There is no way to know what God is going to do. While God is not in the business of making sure everyone lives as long a life as possible, He does desire Christians to live as full a life as possible.

All Christians I know have their share of suffering. All people I know have their share of suffering. The major difference between the suffering of the believer and the suffering of the non-believer is that the believers’ suffering is full of purpose. Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for good for those that love him. This “all things” includes suffering.

One thing we can be sure of is that life is going to take many terrible turns, but knowing that these things have meaning and purpose makes it bearable.

Wrong Answer #3

You’re misinterpreting things here. God was not involved in the death of my sister. God wanted my sister to live, but she decided to take her own life. God is not in control of the well-being of your children either. He has a “hands-off” policy on these types of things.

This is often referred to as “Open Theology”. It puts God in the cheerleading section of the game of life. Many people do this so that they can live with the reality of evil. If God could nothave stopped what happened, then He’s acquitted (in their mind) of any wrongdoing. However, this is not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity is a God who is sovereign overeverything that happens. Daniel 4:34-35 is one of the great passages in all of Scripture speaking of God’s sovereignty:

“His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

Even Satan has to come to God for permission to act (Job 1:6-12).

God’s “Perfect” Plan and His “Redeeming” Plan

This does not mean that evil and suffering are part of God’s perfect plan, but they are a part of His redeeming plan. Death, sin, and suffering are all evil. They were brought into the world when man fell in Eden. But God’s redeeming plan uses sin to right the wrong.

This is why God brought the greatest evil in the history of the world upon His Son. What seemed to be a defeat when Christ died on the cross was a wonderful expression of God’s love, redemption, and sovereignty introduced, not by the will of man, but by the predetermined plan of God (Acts 4:27-28). God is in control of all things, even our suffering.

My Answer

I don’t know if God will protect your kids in the way that you desire. I really don’t. I am sorry.

I had no guarantees for my friend. There are no prenuptial agreements that we can ask God to sign.

In John 21 (I love this story), Christ has already risen from the grave. He is talking to Peter and has some hard news. He tells Peter, in essence, that he is going to suffer and die for his faith. Peter, curious and somewhat agitated, looks at his friend John, looks back at Christ and says, “What about him. Is he going to die too?” That is where we are. We come to Christ and say:

  • What about [fill in the blank]?
  • What are you going to do?
  • What is in store for me if I follow you?
  • Are you going to protect my children?

I suppose that the Lord’s response to Peter is the best answer we are ever going to get. Christ said to Peter “If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). In the Greek, this is emphatic:

You follow me. Take your eyes off the details of the future and you follow me. I have John under control. You follow me. Your children are mine and I love them. Youfollow me. I don’t follow you. You follow me.”

We don’t come to Christ because of guarantees of health, wealth, or protection from physical danger. We come to him because He is Lord. We don’t become Christians because of fringe benefits; we become Christians because Christianity is true. We come to Christ and bow our knee knowing He loves us enough to die for us. We come to Him knowing that His plan, whatever that may be, is full of love, purpose, and wisdom. We come to Him because of the guarantees of the life to come, not the guarantees of this life.

CaptureOn 14th December 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother before driving to Sandy Hook school and opening fire killing twenty children, aged 6 and 7, and six adults. The obvious question that many people will be asking is why did God allow such a tragedy to happen? After listening to one of the fathers of the victims (who sounded like a Christian), why would God allow this to happen to one of his children? This would turn the doctrine of blessings, breakthrough and favor right on its head. If God knows everything in advance, why did he allow this to happen? Couldn’t he of stopped it? Is God evil for allowing this to happen? These are the type of questions that many people (including Christians) will be asking and nothing is wrong with that. The Psalmist asked many honest questions.  Got Questions addresses this question head on from a biblical viewpoint

Question: “Why does God allow evil?”

Answer: The Bible describes God as holy (Isaiah 6:3), righteous (Psalm 7:11), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and sovereign (Daniel 4:17-25). These attributes tell us the following about God: (1) God is capable of preventing evil, and (2) God desires to rid the universe of evil. So, if both of these are true, why does God allow evil? If God has the power to prevent evil and desires to prevent evil, why does He still allow evil? Perhaps a practical way to look at this question would be to consider some alternative ways people might have God run the world:

1) God could change everyone’s personality so that they cannot sin. This would also mean that we would not have a free will. We would not be able to choose right or wrong because we would be “programmed” to only do right. Had God chosen to do this, there would be no meaningful relationships between Him and His creation.

Instead, God made Adam and Eve innocent but with the ability to choose good or evil. Because of this, they could respond to His love and trust Him or choose to disobey. They chose to disobey. Because we live in a real world where we can choose our actions but not their consequences, their sin affected those who came after them (us). Similarly, our decisions to sin have an impact on us and those around us and those who will come after us.

2) God could compensate for people’s evil actions through supernatural intervention 100 percent of the time. God would stop a drunk driver from causing an automobile accident. God would stop a lazy construction worker from doing a substandard job on a house that would later cause grief to the homeowners. God would stop a father who is addicted to drugs or alcohol from doing any harm to his wife, children, or extended family. God would stop gunmen from robbing convenience stores. God would stop high school bullies from tormenting the brainy kids. God would stop thieves from shoplifting. And, yes, God would stop terrorists from flying airplanes into buildings.

While this solution sounds attractive, it would lose its attractiveness as soon as God’s intervention infringed on something we wanted to do. We want God to prevent horribly evil actions, but we are willing to let “lesser-evil” actions slide—not realizing that those “lesser-evil” actions are what usually lead to the “greater-evil” actions. Should God only stop actual sexual affairs, or should He also block our access to pornography or end any inappropriate, but not yet sexual, relationships? Should God stop “true” thieves, or should He also stop us from cheating on our taxes? Should God only stop murder, or should He also stop the “lesser-evil” actions done to people that lead them to commit murder? Should God only stop acts of terrorism, or should He also stop the indoctrination that transformed a person into a terrorist?

3) Another choice would be for God to judge and remove those who choose to commit evil acts. The problem with this possibility is that there would be no one left, for God would have to remove us all. We all sin and commit evil acts (Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). While some people are more evil than others, where would God draw the line? Ultimately, all evil causes harm to others.

Instead of these options, God has chosen to create a “real” world in which real choices have real consequences. In this real world of ours, our actions affect others. Because of Adam’s choice to sin, the world now lives under the curse, and we are all born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12). There will one day come a time when God will judge the sin in this world and make all things new, but He is purposely “delaying” in order to allow more time for people to repent so that He will not need to condemn them (2 Peter 3:9). Until then, He IS concerned about evil. When He created the Old Testament laws, the goal was to discourage and punish evil. He judges nations and rulers who disregard justice and pursue evil. Likewise, in the New Testament, God states that it is the government’s responsibility to provide justice in order to protect the innocent from evil (Romans 13). He also promises severe consequences for those who commit evil acts, especially against the “innocent” (Mark 9:36-42).

In summary, we live in a real world where our good and evil actions have direct consequences and indirect consequences upon us and those around us. God’s desire is that for all of our sakes we would obey Him that it might be well with us (Deuteronomy 5:29). Instead, what happens is that we choose our own way, and then we blame God for not doing anything about it. Such is the heart of sinful man. But Jesus came to change men’s hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, and He does this for those who will turn from evil and call on Him to save them from their sin and its consequences (2 Corinthians 5:17). God does prevent and restrain some acts of evil. This world would be MUCH WORSE were not God restraining evil. At the same time, God has given us the ability to choose good and evil, and when we choose evil, He allows us, and those around us, to suffer the consequences of evil. Rather than blaming God and questioning God on why He does not prevent all evil, we should be about the business of proclaiming the cure for evil and its consequences—Jesus Christ!

Let us pray for all of those who have been directly or indirectly affected by this shooting. I honestly do not know how I would be if my children were the ones left in a pool of blood.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn – Romans 12:15

Related Posts:

 Why does God allow evil?

 Why does God allow evil? – Part 2

 Why does God allow evil? – Part 3: Pain and Suffering

 Why does God allow evil? – Part 4: If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?

If God knew people would sin, why did he make them?

As I have started typing this, there is one miner left to be rescued from the mining tragedy and by the time I finish, the last one would have reached the surface. As many of them were rescued, they visually showed their gratitude to God for delivering them. I for one was very grateful to God for his mercy in allowing these miners to survive after over two months

But non christians, legitimately ask the question ‘its OK for you to thank God in these situations, but where is God in situations like the Burma tragedy or the Minneapolis Bridge? Or where is God when a child dies of cancer or as a result of an idiot drinking and driving? Why dont we thank God then?

Early on in my Christian walk, even though I knew that being a christian wasnt a bed of roses, there was certain things that I didn’t expect to happen to us? I mean, no weapons formed against us should prosper….right? We are the head and not the tail….right? We shouldnt go though sickness or poverty….right? That’s not our portion…..right? But over time, I have recognised that things are not so straight-forward. The reality is, christians go through exactly the same things that non christians go through. We die of illnesses prematurely and so do our young children. We are victims of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. I’m sure there were christians who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11.  We go through marital problems are sometimes the victim of circumstances through no fault of our own. Read Luke 13:1-5 for an example. We may pray for a child to be healed and they still die. That’s just life. Preachers sometimes give people false hopes, or deceive them with false promises that disappoint many times and leave people disillusioned with God.

So how do we explain all of this? I have come to the conclusion that there is no set rules, where bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to ‘good people’. Ultimately, God is sovereign and he does things when he wants and how he wants. You may ask, well if that’s the case, whats the use in praying? If I am honest, I have asked that question many a time and have sometimes struggled with it and to this day, I do not have a complete answer even though it has partly be answered in my post Prayer and Predestination. What I do know though is that I can trust in my heavenly Father and the more I know him, the more I can depend on him, knowing more about his character and knowing that he sees the bigger picture even when I cannot see it with my finite mind. I am limited and he is limitless. My children may not like my discipline or the rules that I give them and they may even see me as a moany ogre but I see the bigger picture so that hopefully in the future, they will learn some of the life skills that I have taught them which will hopefully help them to be responsible adults in the future. And in having a relationship with them, they should know that my character is not to bring harm to them but to bring fruitfulness in them.

Sometimes we want a reason why things are the way they are. Jesus’s disciples asked the same question in John 9

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life

In the story of Lazarus in John 11:1-45, Martha in verse 21, could not understand why God, who she knew was able, allowed Lazarus to die. Lazarus’s family prayed but Jesus delayed it so that Lazarus would die so that he would get maximum glory out of the situation. He didn’t just want to perform a healing. He wanted to perform a resurrection. This turns our man centered theology on its head because it’s not primarily about us but IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM. 

Today is a milestone in my life as it’s my 40th birthday and I am thankful to God for allowing me to see another year. I am thankful to God for everything that he has taught me even though some of it was VERY painful. Some of it was self-inflicted, some of it was inflicted by others and some of it was just life. I have not always understood why God allowed me to experience some of the things that I did but it has definitely shaped my character. What does the future hold for me in the next 40 years (God willing)? I have no idea. No doubt some of it will be painful. Some of it, I will not understand and there may be times that I might even be upset with God. But I know that God holds my future and in this fallen world, he is my ONLY hope and I can depend on him to know what’s best for me.

I will leave you with some lyrics from Trip Lee’s song Cling to you

Lord, it may get better but it may not
So when I pray God, I pray I
Would trust You whether or not the pain stops
So when the pain falls, coming down like rain drops
I just gotta cling to You

Today, Haiti’s government made the “heartbreaking” decision to declare the search and rescue phase for survivors of the earthquake over. This must be so heart rending for those who still have loved ones missing, knowing that they will no longer be searched for. Please continue to pray for Haiti. Below Kirk Frankin and friends have made this charity song for the cause. Please continue to make donations

THANKYOU

Related Posts:

Haiti Earthquake: Mourn with those who mourn

A hard pill to swallow I know

Why does God allow evil?

Why does God allow evil? – Part 2

Why does God allow evil? – Part 3: Pain and Suffering

Why does God allow evil? – Part 4: If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?

If God knew people would sin, why did he make them?

 I read a Facebook status today which stated the following:

People might say why did God let the earthquake happen in Haiti….wrong question. We SHOULD be asking why did God not let the earthquake hit my country also. The whole world lives in darkness and God should really destroy us ALL but He has not dealt with us according to our sins (Psalm 103). His mercy is the only reason people are alive today.

With the situation as bad as it is, I think that every christian,  even though we know that we dont deserve anything from God apart from his punishment, still wonders at the back of their mind why God would allow such calamites to happen to such ‘innocent’ lives. Some people asked Jesus the same question when they enquired why people died when the tower in Siloam fell on them. This was his response:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:1-5)

I received an email from Wretched Radio which reads as follows. As my posts states, it’s a hard pill to swallow

Who Takes the Blame for Haiti?

Rick Warren is wrong when he tweets that God does not judge the world through catastrophes (Romans 1:18).

Pat Robertson is wrong when he claims to know why the Haitian earthquake happened (Deut.29:29).

Perhaps these principles will help us figure out why tragedies happen and who is responsible.

God

God controls everything directly or indirectly by restraining His grace or allowing the devil a little more leash. Either way, God is sovereign over everything and happily accepts responsibility for both good and bad (but not sin).

The devil

The devil does not control the weather or rule the nations.

Humans

There are only two groups of people on the earth: pagans and Christians. 

Why?

When God sends/allows disaster to the pagans, He does so for two reasons: as judgment or as a call to repentance. A disaster is not enough wrath for the pagans as it is merely a taste of God’s eternal punishment if they do not repent and trust the Savior.

When God sends/allows disaster to Christians, He does so for two reasons: to prune us or kill us and take us home. A disaster is never too much or too little for the Christian, the Pruner causes/allows just the right amount for our good and His glory.

While God may be sending judgment to an entire nation, each individual (pagan and Christian) should seek to determine why God caused/allowed himself to be hurt.

Christians are not victims of collateral damage. While there may be a primary reason God sends/allows a catastrophe, God orchestrates every detail in every situation.

Catastrophes happen to heathens as an act of God’s judgment, but they happen to Christians as an act of severe mercy.

God sends/causes a disaster for the onlookers to respond with apathy or kindness.

Biblical Support

Jesus gave us the definitive statement on catastrophes in Luke 13:1-5 (see above). Please take a moment to read that text and you will never make the mistake of Rick Warren or Pat Robertson.

Trick Question

God is not to blame for the earthquake as it was the exact right thing to do. While God gets the credit for the earthquake, He is never to blame for anything. Charles Wesley wrote a number of hymns thanking God for two earthquakes that rocked England in 1751; we should do the same.

The Bottom Line

While each individual should endeavor to learn the lesson that God has in the storm, there is an ultimate purpose (forty days or otherwise): God is endeavoring to glorify His Son. God sends a taste of His wrath to the heathens that they might look to the cross and be saved. God prunes Christians that we will live in greater gratitude for what Jesus has done to rescue us from eternal destruction.

Catastrophes, like everything, are about the cross.

Related Posts:

Haiti Earhquake: Mourn with those who mourn

Why does God allow evil?

Why does God allow evil? – Part 2

Why does God allow evil? – Part 3: Pain and Suffering

Why does God allow evil? – Part 4: If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?

If God knew people would sin, why did he make them?

As a parent, I recognise how easy it is to take it for granted that I am able to have children , as I know that there are many people that cannot but I also know about the awesome reponsibility that I have to raise my children to know God and ultimately be saved. In an era where there is so much peer pressure and distractions for our young people, I have to readily admit that this is a challenge. For  me, it is especially difficult as my 11 and soon to be 16 year old do not live with me and their mum is not a christian so I have to try and influence from afar and when they visit.  I love this quote from Tedd Tripp

You must equip your children to function in a culture that has abandoned the knowledge of God. If you teach them to use their abilities, aptitudes, talents, and intelligence to make their lives better, without reference to God, you turn them away from God. If your objectives are anything other than “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” you teach your children to function in the culture on its terms.

The Brady story below is a very touching one which explains how God in his sovereignty and providence used a devastating circumstance to bring about the salvation of a young boy and how the parents had ‘done their job’ in ultimately directing their son to the Savior.

May this encourage us as parents to prioritise what we input into our kids spiritually. I for one have been guilty of not doing this and intend to make it a priority for I do not want them to live to 70 and die without Christ.

Related Post:

Leaving a Legacy: An Interview with Voddie and Bridget Baucham

HT: Word & Verse

Related Posts:

Why does God allow evil?

Why does God allow evil? – Part 2

Why does God allow evil? – Part 3: Pain and Suffering

If God knew people would sin, why did he make them?