Many of you know that my step sister, Julie Kitchings Shaw, has now been moved to hospice care in her home. She has battled stage 4 colon and liver cancer for a year and a half. She has done so valiantly, inspiringly, and faithfully. The last 5 days have been a definite turn in her condition and she is still here. Her facebook page is filled with tributes to her friendships, her joy, her selflessness, and her amazing family. I echo them all. She is beautiful inside and out and has been the consummate peacemaker in her life. Her husband and her children are examples of the blessings that have been given to her in this life and they are her joy.
What saddens my heart at this time is that as the days have moved on, the call for a miraculous healing has gotten louder and stronger. I echo the desire and would expect nothing less from all of us that love her. But what hurts my heart is all that is implied in statements that are written. There have been calls for everyone to pray right now so that she will be healed. There has been advice for God to see how many people would believe in Him if He would only heal her now. There have been threats, such as “God, you need to do it now or I won’t believe in you.” There have been comparisons such as,”Why would God allow an innocent person to die and leave bad murderers to live?’ There have been rebukes to God that Julie is needed here more than she is needed in heaven right now.
I know where the thoughts come from and I can see the pain and sadness in the ideas because they love her and want her to stay here. But we have lost so much if we think of God in these terms. How do we know how God works? We have to look in His Word.
We live AFTER the fall. Therefore, our world is BROKEN. That means it doesn’t work right any longer. It has pain, suffering, evil, sin, heartache, sickness and death. It had none of these things BEFORE the fall. Since we live after it, we live among the brokenness. There are not two groups of people: innocent and bad. There is one group: sinners. Now there are among the sinners: believers and non believers, but all are sinners. Good things don’t happen to bad people and bad things don’t happen to good people. Things happen to people- some of it is the fall impacting us (cancer) and some of it is our sin impacting others (hatred, murder, greed)- all here because of the fall.
Julie’s body is broken by cancer- not because she is a sinner, but because she lives in a fallen world. God’s purpose for all of His people is to bring glory to Himself. And He is going to use Julie’s circumstances (in spite of the fall) to bring Himself glory. He may do that through a miracle that will point to his healing power and his ability to conquer death, but he may do it through her death. He may use her life as a testimony. Everyone has her on their minds and hearts and is asking questions about how she is able to have such an amazing attitude and faith and confidence. He may use that to drive us to His word to figure it out.
We have to remember His character. He is good. He is faithful. He is just. He is wise. To look at this in scripture, read Job. He loses everything- and I mean everything. And the book addresses all these thoughts. Is God cruel? Is He unjust? Is He teasing people? and God answers Job (and Job’s friends) by telling who He really is. God is SOVEREIGN. The requests for prayer- the idea that if we just pray hard enough, if there are just enough us, maybe God will change His mind forget that He is Sovereign. He is All Powerful. He is All Knowing. He isn’t surprised by this and having to wait until the prayer quotient is filled before He will relent. He doesn’t need our faith to be stronger until He can act. That would make Him Impotent. My fear is that there will be great guilt and fear if the miraculous healing doesn’t happen. Someone will think,”If we only had prayed harder or if more of us had done so, Julie would be here.” There will be the question,”Did we just not pray correctly?’
I answer those with His Word: Psalm 139:13-18
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
He knows. He is Sovereign. But He is also GOOD. If He were only Sovereign, we could be in real trouble. He could be as wishy washy as He wanted and we would fear His every move- nothing to appease Him and nothing to restrain Him. But He is good and loving. So all His power is harnessed and we receive the blessing because He cares for us.
Again His Word tells us: Psalm 107:1-2
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble.
Let’s pray for Julie as God demonstrated for us in the Lord’s prayer. “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen”