To most, the word conjures up horrible images. Pain. Suffering. Uncertainty, grief, and–many times–devastating loss. Cancer. That twisted, ugly word wriggles its way into our minds and hearts, smearing despair in evil black hues across our thought trains.
Last month, my aunt was diagnosed with aggressive, stage IV breast cancer. She is the mother of eight, the youngest of whom is only eight years old. If you’ve been through this or seen someone you loved go through it, you know where I am coming from.
The tears. The pain. The what-ifs and whys. And that one desolate question:
God, why are you doing this? Why did You send this trial?
And, in many senses, that is where we go wrong. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”.
Wait. It says every good gift. It doesn’t say cancer, death, heartache, and suffering.
We as Christians often get the idea that we have to earn God’s favor. Oh, we trusted Him to save us. We trust Him to prepare a place for us in heaven. But, down here on earth, we try to earn His blessings. And, when something goes wrong, we start blaming Him.
Our boyfriend broke up with us – His fault. We get a bad report from the doctor – it must have been God who put the illness there. Someone we love died – God must have just wanted to break our hearts. No, we don’t say these things in so many words. But, somewhere deep within, the thoughts lurk about. It was God’s fault. It’s because I am not good enough. I can’t be the perfect Christian, so God is making me go through all this.
Allow me to say that we don’t serve a manipulating tyrant. We don’t serve a monster who created a pain-ridden world. The simple fact is that it was the fall that brought suffering, cancer, pain, and heartache into this world. And God doesn’t like it any more than we do. I’m not saying God doesn’t ever correct His children, but He doesn’t purposefully plan ways to hurt us either.
So the next time you are tempted to blame God, just remember this: He gives every good and perfect gift. And He loves us so much that, not only did Jesus die for us, but He keeps calling when we’ve rejected His free gift. He keeps on loving when we blame Him for our suffering.
Cancer is a terrible thing. My heart breaks for my aunt, for her family, and for myself. But it wasn’t from God. It’s the peace, strength, healing, and wisdom He gives during a battle with illness that is from Him.
Because every perfect gift is from above. No matter what.