Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why Me? Why Now?

I know that many of you reading this blog don't believe in God - or if you do, "God" is a kind-of impersonal creative force behind the physical universe in some way, but not actively involved in its day-to-day activities.

Those of you who are fellow Christians - or are devout Jews - know that the God revealed in the Bible is very Personal, Loving, and Involved. He is a God of relationships - zealously seeking fellowship with His creatures. But a true loving relationship cannot be coerced; so God has created us with the capacity to freely love Him - or reject Him.

If one doubts God's existence - or sees Him in a more Deistic way - the "why" questions can be brushed aside. They can be dismissed as 'bad luck' or some random act with no Divine significance.

But what about a person of Faith? Can I honestly believe that God somehow intends for my cancer to be a good thing? That He has a purpose behind it? And if so, can I understand it? Is it right to ask Him for an explanation?

As a Christian, the yardstick by which I measure Truth is the Bible. And there's a book in the Bible that specifically addresses the "why" questions: The book of Job. At the end, God confronts Job and asks him a series of rhetorical questions, that basically point to the truth that God's ways are beyond our ways. He created us; He created the world. He is in charge. We should not ask "why" - we have no right to ask such questions. Rather, we should ask, "what would you have me do in this situation? What do you want me to learn?"

There are other passages in Scripture that point to God's benevolent care for His children. Romans 8:28: "We know that God works all things for the good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." I've been meditating on this verse a lot, recently. It calls me to trust that God's purposes - even in my cancer - are intended by Him for my good. I don't understand exactly how that can be, but I think I've gained some insights I'd like to share.

First, I've been praying Mark 9:24 for several months: "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." It has been an appeal for God to increase my faith. While my faith has never waivered - and I've certainly never regretted my committment to Christ (see my testimony, here), I have doubts and uncertainties, from time to time. I've known people of great faith, and I want to be more like them. I want to feel a personal relationship with God on a deeper level. It is, afterall, the most important relationship - by far - we'll ever have!

So, when this happened, I know that - in a huge way - God was presenting me with an opportunity to grow in faith. During those first moments two Sundays ago when I temporarily lost the ability to speak, I knew something was very wrong - that I could be dying. As facts began to emerge, and I learned that I have cancer, the possiblity of death - maybe not right away, but soon - became a reality. And the biggest fact staring me in the face was: I'm not in charge! Every aspect of my existence was immediately thrown into focus: It's all in God's Hands.

Coming to that realization - not merely "head" knowledge but a true "heart" knowledge - was a great comfort to me. The God revealed in the Bible is perfect in every way. What better Person to be in charge?

Another lesson I think God is teaching me is strongly related to all this: Humility. I've always taken great pride in my intellect - in my articulateness. I didn't need to be the 'sharpest knife in the drawer,' but I was always one of them. I remember my mother telling me how proud she was that I was attending graduate school. "No one will ever be able to take your education away from you!" Well, Mom was right about alot of things, but wrong on that point: Had God wanted, He could have taken my intellect from me.

I've been reflecting on the last Sunday School lesson I was able to finish, on John 3:25-30. In this passage, John the Baptist's disciples come to him and complain that Jesus is baptizing more people than they are. John's response: "A man can receive nothing unless it is given him from Heaven."

The truth of the matter is that I did absolutely nothing to deserve the mind I've got. It was a gift from God. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). I know that one lesson God is teaching me is humility. Pride is nothing more than idolatry - the substitution of Self for God.

So, is God working all things - even THIS thing - for my good? Yes, I believe that He is. I'm not going down the "why" path anymore. I'm asking, "what would You have me do?"

For those of you who have "your own" concept of God, a gentle warning: That's idolatry, too. You have made a God to suit yourself. I'm not saying that God will teach you the same lesson He's teaching me in the same way - no, it's a far more important issue than that. Your relationship with God will have Eternal consequences. Please, give it some thought this week, and feel free to ask me any questions you'd like.

2 comments:

Kate Parker said...

Bob,

What beautiful words. You are indeed intellectual, articulate and humble!

I wanted to share with you a successful brain surgery story. My 47 year old sister-in-law had surgery last year for a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Her surgery was performed in Reno and she was lucky to have a great neurosurgeon. She was unable to speak for a day or two after the surgery, but has since recoverd completely with little or no neurological deficit.

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.

Kate

Dan Nila said...

Bob –
What encouraging words you are sharing with those of us who are followinng your progress. Your insight to what the Lord is doing in your life, but just as important – through your life is equally important.

He is using you right now in ways we can never imagine.

Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” You are demonstrating this Bob.

You and I have a mutual friend who we have whitnessed to in the past. My prayer is that your faith will make an impact on this person.

When we are able let get together.

Praying for you bro………………