When you spend a significant amount of time in and around a hospital, you encounter people from all walks of life. So many countries, languages, family types, and faiths are represented. While most people don’t just automatically start sharing their religious preferences freely, you do pick up things just by visiting with and being in various waiting rooms with other families. I overheard one mom talking not long ago while we sat waiting for Sophie’s last scan and she said something that made me just want to grab her and tell her how much Jesus loves her and her child. If I were more bold I would have—probably should have—maybe next time. She said to a friend “I just keep wracking my brain over and over again wondering what I did to cause this for my son. How could I have done something so horrible that the punishment is this?!” I didn’t hear her friend respond but, I don’t know how you respond to that other than with Jesus.
Tonight I was thinking about that encounter, and I just can’t imagine going through this feeling like I had done something to cause my child’s cancer, like I deserve this because of my sins. There are so many people who live feeling like this. It breaks my heart to imagine the guilt they must feel thinking they are to blame for their child’s illness.
I was reminded recently of the story of Jesus healing a blind man. In John 9 the disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he be born blind?” Y’all, even the disciples didn’t get it and they were with Jesus 24/7 witnessing miracles and hearing him teach! But Jesus, in his perfect way, didn’t say what I would have, which is something like, “Hello, have you not been listening for the last 9 chapters?!” Instead, He says, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of the Lord might be displayed in him.”
Jesus took this ultimate punishment for our sins so we and our children don’t have to take on the weight of guilt or feel like we have to earn God’s favor in spite of our sins. Just like our earthly parents discipline and correct us when we mess up, God does the same—but his discipline is not to punish or “give us what we deserve”. HE LOVES US. It’s a love so extravagant and pure we aren’t meant to understand it fully. We don’t have the capacity. He doesn’t hold what we do against us. He doesn’t keep a tally board of our good and bad deeds. He is slow to anger. He offers immediate forgiveness of our sins. He is so, so good. Even in the worst moments of your life, He’s good.
The man Jesus healed was blind so that “the works of The Lord might be displayed in him.” Now very obviously I am not and will never be happy that my sweet, tiny two-year-old has aggressive cancer. I do, however, see God’s hand and plan ALL over this. I see it all the way back to my miscarriage three years ago. Everything has been preparing my heart for THIS. There’s so very obviously divine hands on her life and ours. We have all been showered with his provisions and transforming love. I can admit now that my relationship with the Lord needed a jumpstart. Now I will probably never understand on this side of heaven why it had to be cancer. This world is broken and cancer is a product of that brokenness. The Lord chose to use it to draw me near to him in a way that I’ve never experienced in my life. There’s nothing like quite literally being FULLY dependent on God because any delusion of control is completely taken away. I am however, so thankful for the jumpstart and for what it’s doing in my heart.
I can say with complete peace that God didn’t allow this or cause this to punish us. He is using it though to show us just how much HE LOVES US and how good he truly is. Each step of this journey has been planned and laid out before the world was formed. He has carried us this far and no matter how good or bad or scary the next steps are, we are fully trusting that he will continue to carry us and lift us when we need it.
He is enough. He is bigger.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. -Psalm 145:8
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount of your wonderful deed. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O most high.