God doesn’t always answer our prayer to rid us of cancer. He can, of course, if He chooses to do so. But when He doesn’t, we can drift out of the calm waters of faith into a whirlpool of confusion.
My friend Diane hit that troubled water when her ovarian cancer recurred. “Why didn’t God heal me?” asked this stalwart woman of faith, who suddenly sounded like a lost child. She and others at her church had prayed fervently that she would be healed of cancer. She had even met with the elders, who anointed her with oil and prayed over her. And when her next CA – 125 (tumor marker for cancer) dropped into the normal range, we rejoiced with her and gave thanks to God.
The good news had barely gotten round when the CA – 125 started rising again. My friend couldn’t help asking: Why didn’t God answer the prayers of so many people? Why did He allow the cancer to come back? Why does He heal some and not others? Where is God when we need Him? Are we guilty of some secret sin that God is now disciplining us for with disease?
There are no easy answers to such “whys.” What is comforting, though, is that God does not forbid us from asking.
Job, David, and Jesus Himself asked hard questions about suffering, and were not discouraged from doing so. We may even get glimpses of the answer to why we have cancer: perhaps to give us time and the impetus to restore relationships with family, to shift our priorities in life, to help us appreciate each day, to see health as a gift, to reach out to others in need.
But the greatest response to such questions is to turn our eyes away from ourselves and lift them to God. Then, like Job, we’ll see God as the one who laid the foundations of the earth, shut up the sea behind doors, who gives orders to the morning, tips over the water jars of the heavens — and yet is with us, responding to our every need, and saying,
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. — Isaiah 43:1-2
God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter is with us in the whys, the why nots, the remissions, and the recurrences of cancer. His presence is the answer to every question.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
— Psalm 103:13-14
In order to suffer without dwelling on our own affliction, we must think about a greater affliction, and turn to Christ on the Cross. ~ Thomas Merton
Excerpted with permission from What Cancer Cannot Do, copyright Zondervan.
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Have you ever felt like it was wrong to ask God why? Have you felt that it was faithless to wonder why He has allowed pain to continue, suffering to persist, and prayers to go seemingly unanswered? Have you experienced that even though prayers may yet not be answered that God’s presence is sufficient? Come share with us on our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily