“Why wouldn’t God just heal Uncle Bob?”
It’s a question my 7 year old asked me, shortly after finding out that his Great Uncle Bob passed away from a cancer that took his life breathtakingly fast.
I had 30 seconds to think of an answer quickly, before my son either a) lost interest in the answer or b) formed his own (possibly incorrect) conclusions
I went with, “I don’t know, baby”.
“Well if He’s God, and He can do anything, why wouldn’t he just say ‘yes’ when we all asked Him to heal Uncle Bob?”
What to say?
And then this came to mind:
Just that day, a few hours before, my older two sons…the 7 year old and the 3 year old…wanted a piece of leftover Halloween candy. It was hard candy…I think a Jolly Rancher or something. My 1 year old saw them having the candy, and of course, wanted a piece himself. He asked for it….and I told him “no”. He asked and asked and asked again, and….I told him “no”. Not because I don’t love him, not because I don’t want him to be happy, not because I don’t want him to have the things he wants. I don’t love his brothers more than him. I don’t take secret pleasure in making him sad. I don’t delight in denying him the things he most desires…and believe me..at that moment, the thing he MOST desired was that Jolly Rancher. It’s just that I knew if he had it, he would very likely choke on it.
HIS perspective, I’m sure was something more like this:
“I want this more than anything. Why would she not give this to me? This is GOOD and I WANT it, and I OUGHT to be able to have the things I want. Mom is mean. Mom is not good. Mom does not love me.”
And of course, none of those things are true.
Now, if you are tracking with me, you can probably see SOME parallels between Uncle Bob, and the Jolly Rancher, but overall, the analogy seems kind of dumb and underwhelming. An Uncle and a Jolly Rancher aren’t on the same playing field. Also, it’s obvious why the Jolly Rancher was a bad idea for my son, but not really so obvious why keeping his kind and thoughtful uncle around would be to anyone’s detriment.
Here it the part of the analogy though that I think matters….the parallel that IS consistent, whether it’s Jolly Ranchers we are talking about, or uncles.
See, what I know about choking is this:
Choking is the mechanical obstruction of the flow of air from the environment into the lungs. Choking prevents breathing, and can be partial or complete, with partial choking allowing some, although inadequate, flow of air into the lungs. Prolonged or complete choking results in asphyxia which leads to anoxia and is potentially fatal. Oxygen stored in the blood and lungs can keep a person alive for several minutes after breathing stops.
Choking due to a foreign object resulted in 162,000 deaths in 2013 up from 140,000 deaths in 1990.
I know that because I am Mom (and I read it on Wikipedia)
But he is Baby.
His perception is limited. His knowledge is finite. His mind cannot comprehend. He is literally incapable of understanding ANY of what I just described above about choking. And I could sit him down on my lap and try to explain it to him, but no matter how slowly and carefully I said it…no matter how articulate I was…..it would be an exercise in futility. He is 1. His brain is not developed enough to understand. He does not know, and could not possibly understand what “mechanical obstruction” even MEANS, much less comprehend why that would be problematic. He does not know what asphyxia is, and honestly, doesn’t even know what death is. He does not have the wisdom I have. He does not have the capacity to think the way I think. He does not understand the big picture…and he couldn’t POSSIBLY.
His inability to understand though does NOT change the fact that I am right, I am good, I am loving, I am in control, I am actively working things out in his best interest. He does not need to understand that, for it to still be TRUE.
What’s your Jolly Rancher?
We all have one. Mine right now, is that God will miraculously heal my mom of every single tiny scrap of the cancer she has. That he will just..Zap!…take it away. Or, that He will allow her treatment to be completely and totally successful, eradicating her cancer forever, and allowing her to go on living a long and healthy life, doing all the things she loves.
And what I know about God, is that He CAN do that.
What I know about God is that often times, He WANTS to do that.
He works miracles ALL the time.
I have SEEN Him work miracles in front of my very eyes.
I feel HOPEFUL and CONFIDENT in His willingness and ability to “let this cup pass” from my mom and my family. We will continue to pray that, and we will wait in eager anticipation while He works.
For right now at least, He has told us “no”.
You see, we prayed before she ever went in for her very first scan that the doctor would not find one single thing wrong with her….and he did.
We prayed upon finding her mass, that the mass would turn out to benign…and it wasn’t.
We prayed and prayed just yesterday that the doctors would be able to perform a successful surgery, and remove the tumor, with not much complication, and little else required …and they were unable to do so.
So why isn’t God giving me my Jolly Rancher?
I. Don’t. Know.
That. Is. Ok.
I don’t have to know!
And neither do you.
You do not have to know why God isn’t giving you your Jolly Rancher. Maybe He is about to this very second, and you just don’t know it. Maybe He is going to, but it’s not going to be for a long time. You are only 1. You can’t handle a Jolly Rancher. Maybe He is waiting until you are 4, and you can. Maybe He’s not going to give it to you at all, but it’s only because He knows you will choke on it. Maybe you are incorrect in your assumption that the Jolly Rancher is going to bring you the ultimate happiness and fulfillment you are expecting anyway, and God actually has an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups waiting for you?
You know what? My mom’s cancer diagnosis SUCKS. If God had consulted me first, I would have said, “um, no”.
But if I had to put a number to it, I bet my limited perspective and vision allows me to see approximately .0000000000000000000000000000000000000001 of what God is able to see. I have no idea what His ultimate plan is. How He is working all of this together for good. How even right in this moment, hearts are being changed, wisdom is being gained, someone’s faith is being deepened. These are the types of things that change the course of peoples lives…forever, and for the better.
Maybe God will heal my mom, and in doing so, bring belief into someone’s disbelieving heart.
Maybe her sickness will provide me an opportunity I otherwise would not have had, to demonstrate to my young sons what it looks like to rely on God, to trust His plan above all else, and to embrace the power of prayer. Maybe they will be BETTER MEN BECAUSE OF IT.
I don’t know.
I don’t have to know.
I know that God allowed my sister, who has stumbled around in an opiate-haze for the last decade of her life, to be sober for a time JUST such a this. Her support and encouragement and hands-on help has already been such a source of relief to both my mom as well as myself. She PRAYED over my mom just the other night. My sister prayed. I could never have orchestrated the perfect timing of her sobriety. But God did.
Maybe it isn’t God who is lacking…maybe it’s your theology.
If you think that you are supposed to understand everything that happens in this life…your theology is lacking.
You aren’t supposed to have the mind of God. And why would you WANT to? If you and God had equal brain-power, what sort of lame God would He be?
If you think that God should give you everything you want…your theology is lacking.
You don’t have the big picture. You only THINK you know what you want, because you haven’t tasted better yet.
If you think a Jolly Rancher is the ultimate happiness…your theology is lacking.
You’ve never experienced ultimate fulfillment, and you are looking to anything and everything in your attempt to. Stop it, and let HIM provide you with true fulfiment.
As for me, similar to a 1-year old, I’m going to keep begging and pleading for my Jolly Rancher.
Because guess what?
Yesterday, we were driving home from somewhere, and my 1-year old spotted a box of cookies in the front seat. “Mama cookie please? Cookie please? Cookie pleeeeeeeeeeease??”.
And I said “yes”. You see, I love him, and I love to give him good things.
So does God.