I hope I never forget her face.
A woman came to me with a piercing question. “Why is God doing this to me?” She had prayed for forgiveness. Her life that day was different than it had been before because she decided God deserved a better life from her.
And yet, cancer.
Of course, the question is not new. Why do bad things happen to good people? Or, in light of a good and gracious God, why do evil and suffering seem to prevail?
I’m leery of anyone who is overconfident in their responses to such questions. I have a response I’ve mulled over time and time again. At this point, I’m only somewhat comfortable with it. And that’s only because I know Christian history has struggled with it more than me.
With as much as I’m not sure about, I take great comfort in one thing. Nothing “in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). That was the distress that filled my office that one day. A cruel diagnosis must’ve meant God had abandoned her. Unfortunately, her religious upbringing led her to that conclusion.
I hoped to offer another viewpoint she could learn to affirm.
Romans 8 also speaks of Christians being victorious. I’ve seen that taken in directions the apostle Paul did not intend. The Christian heart is victorious because Christ has given us life through his Spirit (Romans 8:11). With such a victory, we can dispel the fear of condemnation. We can say with confidence our cancer is not God’s judgement. Our struggles may sometimes be the outcome of our choices. They may also just be a part of being alive. But they do not sway God’s love for us.
What I don’t know or understand about theodicy or evil, I leave to God. What I do know or understand I leave to God as well. I hope I never forget that woman’s face as she feared what would be the worst of all. It reminds me how much we need to know and be reminded of God’s love for us. And I trust I’ll never forget the promise I offered to her that nothing could ever make her worse fear possible.