The Snapp family has been doing a whole lot of praying these days.
Someone very dear to us is in a crazy-intense battle against a cancer so fierce it depletes him of all energy, appetite, and at times, memory. It’s a horrible, insidious disease I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Earlier this summer, we spent time praying for a young boy we’ve never met who eventually lost his battle with the same ugly disease.
He was eleven years old and had been fighting since his second birthday. He knew no life other than doctors, needles, tests and the highs and lows of good news peppered with bad.
Cancer is a roller-coaster of ups and downs, good days and bad, over and under, joy and despair. It doesn’t care how old you are, how rich you are, how beautiful you are, how powerful you are, how skinny you are.
Soon after the young boy we had been praying for lost his fight, Spencer asked me why God didn’t heal him since we had prayed He would.
A fair enough question and the cornerstone argument of atheists everywhere. If God is so good, why doesn’t He heal innocent children who suffer?
If God is so good, why is there cancer in the first place?
When I first started my walk with God sixteen years ago, this was a question I wrestled with daily. Why doesn’t this ever-powerful, all-knowing sovereign God swoop-in and heal everyone like a superhero and be home in time for dinner?
Thankfully, in my early years of believing, I found myself under the teaching of a pastor at a mega-church in Indianapolis. When I asked him this same question, he responded thoughtfully and patiently, just as seasoned, wise pastors do.
“Sometimes God doesn’t heal in the way we had envisioned. Sometimes, God heals us by bringing us home to Him,” he answered.
It was a record-scratch moment for me. All along I had been using my own definition of healing while focusing on what I envision healing to be. Never once did I stop to consider what God might envision healing to be.
For the record, God’s definition of healing is far greater than my own.
A few days after this conversation with Spencer, I heard him talking to a boy who mentioned something about death.
“Sometimes God heals people by bringing them home to Him,” Spencer answered.
I watched this boy have a record-scratch moment of his own and in that moment, I prayed he would share that same perspective with someone else.
His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.
How often I forget this when I’m faced with the very-real ugliness of a fallen world. How often I lose hope when I see a barrier that looks unbreakable. How often I fail to see what He’s doing in even the most heartbreaking of circumstances. How often I fail to remember how He heals.
There will come a day when it will all be clear. When we will say “Oh, that’s what you were doing!” When all tears will be wiped from our eyes. When God’s way of healing by bringing home is fully understood.
Until then, we remember to remember to trust His way of healing.
My intentions are not always yours,
and I do not go about things as you do.
My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you,
just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth.
-Isaiah 55:8-9 (The Voice)
Great thoughts Natalie! Your words are clear and very encouraging!
great Scripture that you included natalie:) i don’t know if you are aware that Joni Earickson Tada will be celebrating 50 years in her wheelchair this week. i forget the exact date. i don’t know about you, but i have been so blessed by many of her words about suffering and GOD’s purposes in suffering. she has “walked” a road that not many of us have been called to take…and has done it with joy and glorified GOD in ways im not sure i could have.
cancer is another way we don’t want to have to go for sure. yet many have shown us Jesus in the way they have faced it. recently, i had the opportunity to visit with a childhood friend whose mother died when i was in 9th grade and she was in 10th. of course, she had younger brothers and sisters too. it was interesting to hear “the rest of the story” re how her family coped…positive and negative.
when i heard some of the very sad outcomes of some members but also see how some members have become so dear and tender and kind because of the pain they went through, i realize, once again that GOD’s ways are not like our ways. they are so much higher. the work He is doing is way beyond what we can see right now. in many ways, that is very encouraging.