January 11, 2012
Jonathan, an elder at the church I attend, has written a post explaining why he’s not mad at God for allowing his young daughter to endure leukemia. Jonathan writes,
Let there be no mistake, my daughter’s cancer, like every tragedy, is rooted in sin. We are fallen people who live in a broken world. Things don’t work the way they’re supposed to–though they will one day!
Jonathan also reflects on the problem of evil in his post. I’ve been reflecting on this issue a bit myself lately, primarily because of a recent discussion I had with another believer about healing. This brother believes that it is God’s will for everyone to be healed, and that if you pray with enough faith, the healing is yours.
Reflecting on these situations, I came across the story in Matthew’s Gospel regarding Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt with baby Jesus. As the story goes, they were warned by God to flee to Egypt since Herod was having the babies in Israel killed–hoping to kill the Messiah. How merciful for God to protect his Son by directing the family to Egypt! But, I can’t help but notice that God did not see fit to spare the other children of Israel. How could a loving God have allowed such a massacre of children? Couldn’t he have warned each family to flee to Egypt, with the result that each child would have been spared? But God in his providence allowed these children to die, but spared only the baby Jesus, at least as far as we know.
Why am I mentioning all of this? I guess my brother’s words are still echoing through my mind; and I guess I still struggle to fathom his position in total healing. Jonathan’s story illustrates to me how the godly endures sickness, and in the process demonstrates that a believer with robust faith still endures sickness. And the story of Herod’s slaughter of children is merely one example to my brother that God does indeed allow people to suffer, even to die, for seemingly inexplicable reasons. Yes, He is a loving Father, but no, that does not mean he will spare everyone from physical hardship.
January 19, 2011
Dave Black has written a post asking us to pray for believers facing serious persecution in Ethiopia. He writes
Church leaders are being hunted down, believers are being stoned and beaten, and the civil authorities are turning a blind eye. . . . My point is that there is a cost to following Jesus in many parts of the globe today. This world needs more men and women who will count the cost and then obey. Discipleship involves sacrifice.
Hebrews reminds us to “remember the prisoners, as if you were in chains alongside them, and remember those being persecuted, as if you were experiencing the same physical hardship” (Heb 13:2).
You and I may not face persecution in this country, but have no excuse not to suffer right alongside our brothers and sisters around the world by standing alongside them in fervent prayer.