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In November 2015 my mother, who had no history of smoking, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. We were told there was no cure. She had six months to live at most.
After her initial diagnosis, people from all walks of her life came to comfort her; and most of the time, they were really sweet. But like Job’s friends, there were a few who also tried to explain why she got sick. Are there unrepentant sins Connie can think of? Did she do something terrible in the past? Perhaps that’s why she’s getting punished. Twice, a woman told my mom she was demon-possessed.
Mother - God - Comments - Months - Mother
Thankfully, my mother knew her Bible and trusted her God, and these comments weren’t as unsettling as they could have been. But for the 16 months my mother battled cancer, I had a crisis of faith based on similar ideas.
Often in Scripture, and especially in the book of Job, we aren’t told why God allows suffering and tragedy. We are invited to read about people’s doubts and prayers, their journey and the results of their deepening faith, but we aren’t told the reason for their troubles.
Though I knew this, when my mom got sick, I couldn’t help but ask why.
My functional understanding of the Christian faith was actually the prosperity gospel’s reverse image.
Presupposition - Heart - Knowledge - Question - Relationship
As I thought about why I kept asking why, I uncovered a basic presupposition that lay deep in my heart beneath my accumulated theological knowledge. My “why” question assumed a direct relationship between sin and suffering: the person in pain did something bad; therefore, she’s suffering now.
Much to my surprise, I realized this line of thinking is just the flip side of the prosperity gospel, which teaches that if you have big enough faith, think positively, and donate money, then you can expect God to...
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