Scripture: Matthew 25:31-40; Ecclesiastes 9:7-12
This Sunday in our sermon series, Hidden Angels, we will be discussing God’s role when we receive a diagnosis of cancer. I was drawn to this topic because cancer is something that has impacted all of our lives in some form or another. Sadly, our understanding of cancer is based primarily on how it effects the human body. When you have malignant cancer actively spreading throughout your body, we all know that it will kill you if it is left untreated.
The reason why cancer is so deadly relates to an issue with cells not dying when they should. Normally in the human body, when cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. When cancer develops, this process breaks down. Old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths, which is what we call tumors.
Of course, you can reduce the likelihood that these cell errors will occur by being active, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, not drinking or smoking, and staying out of the sun. But even those are not all guarantees that you’ll be cancer free. Very, very healthy people get cancer all the time and I think one of the questions that we often ask God in situations like this is why? If you did everything right, if you tried to live your life the right way, shouldn’t God prevent this type of thing from happening to you?
So one of the ways we try to bail God out of this predicament is by saying that God is really only in charge of the good things that happen in the world and not the bad. God didn’t cause your cancer because cancer is bad. But here’s the problem with that line of thinking: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have God be in ultimate control of the world and only directing the good things that happen in your life. If God is ultimately in charge of everything, then God is also the one directing the cancer that formed in your body.
Personally, I don’t believe that to be true. I don’t believe that God chooses to give us cancer because I don’t think God is involved in directing our lives at that level. This leads us to ask the question: if God is not directing our lives at that level, then how does God operate in the world and why does something like cancer exists if our God is a God of love? These are the questions that will be the focus of our attention on Sunday. I hope you can be present because it will be an important topic that will impact all of us. Have a wonderful weekend!