Tag Archives: Cancer

If God Is Good: Question 1

12 Jun

Simple question:

If God is Good, then why do cancer wards exist in children’s hospitals?

 

The Powerlessness of Prayer

24 Aug
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer

The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t believe in the power of prayer.  The reason why…because of God’s lack of answer to prayer.  In all honesty, God really does not answer prayer in the way it’s promised in the Bible.  The Bible claims that God cares for you and me and wants to answer our prayers.

Matthew 21:22 plainly states

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

But this does not seem to be true.  Millions of Christians have believed that God has the power to save and heal, have begged God to do so, and he has not done it.  Babies have died, beloved parents and relatives have wasted unto death, while God ignores the prayers of those who have asked him to heal those whom they love.

I know many will object that maybe God had a different idea, or maybe we just didn’t believe enough.  But I think, that deep down, even the most earnest Christian does not really believe in prayer as described in the Bible.  They might think God will tip the scales a little more in their favor, maybe send a specialist doctor to save the day.  But most have asked God to heal cancers, only to see the cancer prevail.  Lord knows I’ve pleaded for babies that still went to the grave and left their parents in dismal grief, despite my many prayers.

Most Christians have lived long enough to know that prayer will not save the day…it may bring a little relief, kind of like meditation or silent centering, but it will not result in God’s miraculous intervention in the Biblical sense.

Where the Rubber Hits the Road

We’ve all heard of the Christian parents that withhold life saving medical treatment for their children.  They trust God will heal, so they pray, wait, and watch as their children die or are seriously sickened from a condition that could have been prevented by human intervention.  Instead, they obey the Bible’s teaching to seek God for all their needs.  And in the end, many end up at a graveside, a court room, and some will even see the inside of a jail cell.

Why?

Because they took the Bible at it’s word about prayer.

But most Christians see this as extreme and would never do this to their children.  When the rubber hits the road, we say a prayer, but we pay a visit to the doctor.

Worst Case Scenario

Imagine an even more agonizing situation.

Imagine you are a middle aged mom whose elementary schooler has not returned home on time.  After ten minutes past the normal time your child arrives home, you wander next door to confirm that the bus is late.  When the neighbor’s child answers the door, you begin to worry.

Your neighbor confirms that the bus arrived on time, but your child was not seen exiting the bus.  A quick call to the school sends you into a panic. Your child was not seen at school all day.  In fact, the voice mail you ignored this morning was your child’s school calling to confirm that your child was sick and at home.

You slump to the floor sobbing as your neighbor dials 911….

Freeze Frame

Pausing this imaginary nightmare, ask your self this question.  Do you believe in the power of prayer to locate your child safely?

In other words, would you just call the prayer chain at church and trust God that he would lead you to your child?  What if the detective at the police station said they weren’t going to send out a description of your child, instead the officers were going to pray and wait on God to lead them to your child…would you really be ok with that response?

Of course you wouldn’t…you would be doing everything in your power to bring your child home again.  You would want to know that every stone in the county was being turned over in search of your child.  You would talk to anyone willing to listen and get the word out that something more precious than gold is lost and needs to be found.

This scenario reveals that when it matters most, prayer does little to no good when facing real world problems.  It doesn’t heal children who are sick.  It doesn’t save relatives that are dying.  It doesn’t bring children home who have been kidnapped or run away.

In short, prayer has no real power to change reality.

What if Grandma Gets Run Over by a Reindeer (before she repents) ?

29 Mar

I know, I know….I promised I wouldn’t be writing about hell again…but it just keeps coming up in conversations.

So what if Grandma gets run over by a reindeer before she repents and puts her faith in Jesus?  Now what?

I ask the question because I have seen this very thing play out in my own family.

My wife’s Grandma was much-loved.  She was short, feisty, and a genuinely fun person to be around.  I loved her as well.  She always seemed to have a soft spot for me and I loved the fact that her secret ingredient for every dish she concocted, was bacon.

Spiritually speaking, Grandma had been raised in a non-religious home.  She converted to Catholicism when she met her husband and was faithful to raise her children in communion with Rome.   The rub came when her son, my Father-in-law, had a conversion experience to Evangelicalism and rejected his Catholicism.  As far as he and the church we both attended were concerned, the Roman Catholic Church preached a false gospel.  Some of our Bible teachers even suggested that the Catholic church was represented in the book of Revelation, described as  the Harlot who rode the Beast.  That’s right, not just a church with some problems…it was a church that was directly in league with Satan and the Anti-Christ.

Over the years, my wife’s parents would consistently share the Gospel with Grandma, trying to convince her that she needed to leave the Catholic Church.  Grandma once commented that “If I hear them share John3:16 with me one more time, I’m going to scream!  What do I have to do to convince them (my in-laws) that I believe in Christ?”  So she believed in God, but she had no intent of leaving the Catholic church.  To my in-laws and myself, this meant she probably was not a real Christian.  Since no real Christian would remain in a false church, then her salvation was in question.  At least, this is how we thought at the time….

As the years went by, the same frustrating spiritual conversations ensued, but she refused to repent of her Catholicism.  She also began to experience the pain of old age.  Her husband died of a heart attack while vacationing at the beach.  She was now a widow and had to move to a small apartment, to be close to family.  She began having small cancer patches appear on her skin.  It got to the point where part of her ear and nose had to be removed.  She was in pain because of the cancer, but it also caused her personal embarrassment.  She would have to attach skin bandages and a nose patch so she could go in public, without looking  abnormal from the scars left by cancer.

Eventually the cancer did what it does best, it stole Grandma’s life away from her and she died…..

It’s at this point that the whole idea of Hell becomes excruciatingly personal.  To be consistent, those of us who were Evangelicals would have to conclude that Grandma died in a false church and was never a true Christian.  Our theology told us that Grandma is currently being tortured in hell, and that with every passing moment, she will continue to be tortured for evermore-for eternity.

Eternal hell for the woman who gave life to my Father-in-law.  Eternal hell for the woman who always sent a little money to the grand-kids, even when she didn’t have much money to spare.  Eternal suffering for a woman who had by all accounts, been a decent human being to family and strangers alike.

It has been my experience, that in times like this, Evangelicals begin to seek out some sort of escape clause.  The thought of our loved ones suffering forever haunts us, and we begin to say things like:

“You never know, maybe God chose to reveal himself in those last moments…he is a Merciful God.”

“I know she heard the truth, only God knows, but I believe that she must have known the Lord.”

Besides hoping for some last second reckoning for our now departed loved ones, many begin to seek out some sort of sign.  Some indication from God, that their loved one is now in heaven and not in that other place.

For my wife’s family,  this came in the form of sunshine.  It had been raining all day at the memorial service and during the burial.  Just as the casket was being lowered in the grave, some sunshine peaked through the clouds for a few moments.  To some in my wife’s family, they took this as a sign from God.   A sign that Grandma was now resting with Him in heaven.

To be fair, I have no desire to pick a fight with anyone who has lost their mom.  But it seems a stretch, to say that a little burst of sunlight exempts a loved one from the plain teaching of scripture.   This tendency to find an “out” for our loved ones seems right to me…after all who REALLY wants to see Grandma burn? But it doesn’t change the stark picture painted in the Bible, of the Eternal suffering that awaits unbelievers after they have died.

It’s the question I now ask believers.  Can you really imagine an Eternity in which your dear old Grandma will suffer in Hell?  I know I can’t…