*Editor’s note: This piece was written 4 years ago (2015), and while I still believe these things, I don’t feel they were represented or stated clearly. To be clear: We serve a sovereign God, a God who is capable of complete control, but who does not TAKE that complete control. He has given us free will, and we can (and detrimentally often do) choose to not allow Him in. When we become born again Christians, we give ourselves over to Him; we give Him the reigns and He will steer us. Without doing that, we aren’t allowing Him to move in us or through us. We cannot blame Him for every death, disease, hurt that comes our way when we won’t allow Him in. The death, disease, and hurt that are rampant in the world are because we live in a broken and dark world; a world that the devil roams and devours. Things happen because we either are or are not following His plans for us. In short, if we are not for God, walking with God and following after Him, we are going the opposite direction. If we aren’t for Him, it counts as against Him and we do not have His protection. At anytime, Christian or not, we can cry out and say, “God, I can’t do this anymore, I need you,” and He will come. But don’t demand separation and be surprised that He gives it. He waits for you.
There is that devastating moment in life when someone close to you dies, or someone close to someone you’re close to dies. It’s sad and it’s hard. You know what doesn’t make it better? Saying that it was God’s plan. Saying that God ordained that death or that He needed another angel. Saying that we can never understand God’s plan until we get to Heaven. God does allow death, obviously. God does have a plan and it is perfect, obviously. God’s plan will always be better than any plan we come up with, obviously. We are not meant to understand His plans until Heaven, obviously. However, knowing the obvious as truth doesn’t make those statements truth.
Despite the obvious issues with that, we would be saying that along with the natural deaths (which are….natural; I’m not saying that we’re immortal – we’re not, by the way) God plans out long painful deaths by disease. That He plans the 3 month old’s death to heart failure. He plans out the cancer patient’s long, hard and painful journey through several treatment options only to kill them off before they find or see relief. How? How in the world does that ring true or make sense?
I understand that the popular opinion is that God is in 100% complete and total control of everyone and everything. Here’s my main issue (yes, I have a few) with that: if God has complete and total control over everyone and everything, where is our free will? How can we retain free will and still be controlled? Doesn’t the Bible talk about a God that cannot lie, a God that is not contradictory? Saying that I have no control over anything that happens to anything but that I have the free will to choose what I want is contradictory. I’m not sure when or how or why we stopped acknowledging that, but we need to start again.
I have a dear friend of mine that has been through the ringer in her short life. Perhaps the most devastating thing to happen to her was the loss of her child. The loss of her 3 month old daughter. Even thinking about it now, I’m having trouble breathing. Her daughter, her beautiful spectacular daughter was born with a heart defect. She suffered. She hurt. I do not serve a God that causes a child to suffer for the duration of her short life and then die in a devastating, tragic way. I do not serve a God that would create a child only to cause it to die before she has any sort of chance.
I have watched too many people go through chemotherapy to try to rid their bodies of cancer. I’ve seen some of those people not make it through their cancer. Yes, I’ve seen many of them make it through and they are stronger than they were, but they are also more fragile. I don’t serve a God that sent His Son to die on the cross so that we could have all power and authority IN HIM, yet force some to suffer (and possibly lose) long arduous battles to various diseases.
I don’t serve a God that is in complete and total control. Because if I did, it would mean that I serve a God that picks and chooses who gets to suffer, who gets to die a horrible death, who gets to feel suffocating grief, who will never get relief. That’s some pretty heavy favoritism. It would also imply that I am not responsible for my actions or attitudes. If we serve a God that’s in total and complete control, He has to be totally and completely in control. Not just when it suits us to use that as an excuse.
I serve a loving God. A God that hurts when I hurt. A God that would sacrifice His only Son so that we could be free and so that we could have the power to overcome the wretchedness; power in Him. Too often when things go wrong I hear people say how angry they are at God. “God, how could you do this? Why did you do this to me, God? Why did you take him, God?” I’m going to tell you something very important, so I want you to stop multi-tasking and focus. If that is you, if you blame God, you are angry at the wrong person/thing. It’s not Him that causes sickness and death and pain.
The Bible says it all. Death and sickness and pain and misery are not God’s specialty. We live in a fallen world. A world that is still in need of saving. We live in a world that is rampant with addiction, abuse, disease, all sorts of other things. That is why sickness comes on us. God doesn’t put it there. He does not sit among the unicorns on His cloud thrown saying, “Hmm, you know what? I think it would be a good thing for Chachi to be diagnosed with cancer. You know, I think it will really do him some good. Oh! Baby peanut was just born, don’t you think it’ll be a cool test to give her a blood disorder? So fun, ya’ll!”
C’mon! God wants us happy, healthy and well! He does not want us to be depressed, dying and sick! He sent Jesus to save us and set us free. In Jesus we have and are given all power and all authority. That means that we have authority in Him over sickness, death, pain, grief, everything horrible. Having authority means that we can cast it out (read James 4:7-8; really, just read the entire Bible). We don’t have to be a pastor. We don’t have to be a TV evangelist. We don’t have to be wealthy or popular or well-known. We just need to be who we are. We need to submit to God, resist the devil and cast out that garbage that was never intended to be a part of our lives.
God’s desire, His plan was not for us to get diseases, so stop saying that whatever sickness you have was His plan. That it was His plan because you are able to witness to and relate to so many more people than you could before. Stop that. It’s not true. What’s true is that in Him we have absolute power and authority to heal. To heal by faith. How many more people could you reach with healing than you could with sickness?
I am not condemning anyone, really. I struggle with this sometimes, too. I can remember telling one of my friends about my Celiac Disease; I said, “I think God gave me this because I needed to be healthier.” He actually grabbed me by the shoulders, got on my level and made sure I was paying attention before he said, “Hey, God did not give you this disease, He doesn’t want you to have it, but He can still use it.” I forget about that power that I have. It’s easy to do, especially when people are ready to have us committed for commanding legs to grow and the dead to walk. It’s easy to stop walking in that authority when we see it fail. That failure, though, it’s not because God caused the failure. We need to stop putting all the darkness and all the bad stuff on God. He operates in life and love, not in death and hate.
Overall, what I want to say is that we are going to get sick sometimes. We are going to feel pain. We are going to be hurt. Just because that is the way it goes doesn’t mean that God put it there (He didn’t). Just because these things happen doesn’t mean they need to stay (they don’t). We need to stop blaming God and start working with Him, the way He always intended it.