Thursday, January 1, 2009


I got a question from a friend who is an oncology nurse struggling with Why God allows people to get cancer. I decided to post my response on the blog for anyone else who might be struggling through the same issue. I don't know 'why' He allows suffering but here are some things I have learned in MY walk through the valley of suffering...
Why does God allow illness, suffering, and pain? This is a question that I have WRESTLED through during the last 3 1/2 yrs of my life. Why did God allow me to get sick? Why doesn't He completely heal me? Why have I had to suffer SO much... while having young children? Why have I had to go through excruciating treatments when I know He is capable of healing me by speaking A WORD? Why didn't He protect me on the day I got infected?
Why does He allow your patients to get cancer?
Why doesn't He heal them? Why does He heal some and not others? Is this His will?
and another biggie to ponder--- Why did Christ have to suffer?
Those are legitimate questions that ALL people will ask at some point in their lives. I will give you my best answer even though I don't think we will really know until heaven.
1. This isn't the way He created it.
He created a perfect world- but that world was put under a curse the day that Adam and Eve sinned. Because of their sin... death, disease and illness entered the picture. We were never even created to die! That is why it hurts so bad to lose a loved one because IT ISN'T THE WAY GOD INTENDED IT TO BE and it goes against our nature.
"Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good."
Genesis 1:31
"You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die". Genesis 2:16,17
God gave us the free will to choose to obey and Adam and Eve chose to sin just like we all still do when we sin against God. But true love demands free will.
2. When we are born, we all begin DYING.
Whether it is Cancer, Lyme Disease, Heart Attack, Car wreck... we are all headed toward the same end. 10 out of 10 die. Some suffer more than others and I don't know why.
This place is not our home. The Bible says our lives are like a vapor.
"How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone."
James 4:14
"For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come."
Hebrews 13:14
3. There is GOOD NEWS (or the Gospel)!!!
God sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem what happened that day in the garden.
"The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God's wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17 (NLT)
4. He continues to redeem or 'bring worth to'.
He can redeem suffering. I do not believe God enjoys watching us suffer. I think it hurts him just as it hurts us to see our children suffer. But, HE IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
"Redeem"- means to turn something bad into something good or to restore the honor or worth of . I have seen that over and over in my life. As much as I have HATED every second of my illness, He has used it to draw people to Himself and to draw me closer to Him. I have seen more fruit in my life during suffering than ever before. He can create beauty from ashes...
"he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3
"But when Jesus heard about it he said, "Lazarus's sickness will not end in death. No, it is for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this." John 11:4
**If you remember reading this in John, MANY come to believe in Christ because of Lazarus' sickness. Also, remember that Jesus wept over this situation.
5. We cannot see the big picture.
We do not know what is happening in the spiritual realm. We will really never know how God is using our sufferings for eternal purposes until He shows us in heaven. If we allow Him to be Lord over everything... including our sufferings, the ways He can use us are UNIMAGINABLE.
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
1 Corinthians 13:12

"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." Isaiah 55:8

6. He gives us treasures hidden in the darkness.
He also gives grace, strength and endurance to not only survive suffering but to have JOY in it.
"And I will give you TREASURES hidden in the darkness--secret RICHES. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."
Isaiah 45:3
I believe you can see God in a clearer way while suffering, I believe you will receive treasures and riches while in the darkness of pain. I, more than believe it, I have lived it and have those treasures and riches stored in my heart because of God's faithfulness to walk through the valley with me.
Although these gifts are for us, they are also for us to share with others...
"What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ears, shout from the housetops for all to hear!"
Matthew 10:27
See the word whisper? Whispering demands closeness. He is close to us in the darkness. Close enough to whisper truths in our ears. God gives wisdom during those times which can be such an encouragement to others. I am able to shout, "God is faithful!" from my rooftop.
7. He does still heal. P-R-A-Y!!!!!!!!! and pray hard.
Pray for your patients! Pray with them (if you won't get into trouble ;). We don't know what God's plans are so we pray for His Will to be done but we don't stop asking Him to heal.
I have written down some verses that have been LIFE-giving to me during the last 3 years. They are written on a tattered piece of paper with tear stains that stays in my Bible. Here are some of them. You can pray through them when you pray for your patients or print them out and give them to them for comfort.
"I cry out to God Most High, to God who WILL fulfill his purpose for me."
Psalm 57:2
"These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."
1 Peter 1:7
"The LORD nurses them when they are sick and eases their pain and discomfort."
Psalm 41:3
"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction."
Psalm 119:92
"I will be your God throughout your lifetime--until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. "
Isaiah 46:4
"Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise."
Jeremiah 17:14
"The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace."
Psalm 29:11
"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."
Psalm 119:71
"O LORD my God, I cried out to you for help, and you restored my health."
Psalm 30:2
"As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. You are my helper and my savior. Do not delay, O my God."
Psalm 40:17
"Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard."
Isaiah 58:8
"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."
Psalm 119: 50
"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed."
Psalm 57:1
"Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings."
Psalm 63:7
I hope this is helpful. I don't know why God allows things but I know that He is GOOD and what He does is GOOD and it is all for our GOOD. We have to trust Him in darkness. He shines His light into those dark times and is so close. He is faithful to provide what we need to persevere during this life.
All of us are in some kind of 'waiting room' for death (as depressing as that sounds).Our job is to be reconciled to God through Jesus and look around and tell everyone that GOOD news about Christ and that we can have ETERNAL LIFE through Him and live in a place where there is no more death or disease.
Jesus cares. I believe He still weeps over our suffering just as He did with Martha and Mary but He also redeems it and can turn it into beauty. He brings WORTH to our suffering. No pain is wasted if you allow God to be the Lord of your life.

Our hope has to be IN HIM regardless of what happens in our lives.
A book you might like to read is called "The Problem of Pain" by CS Lewis.

Be blessed~



Taylor said...

Thank you for this. It is so beautifully written. When I weep, I love to know that God is weeping with me. A Father hurts when His child does.

Meghan said...

I am a friend of Jennifer Clark's and she told me about your blog. I occasionally wander over and read it. I wanted to tell you that you are so inspirational. I love reading your words and about your walk with God. Thanks for sharing. :)

Banni said...

thank you for sharing this so beautifully. our Bible study small group talked about C.S. Lewis's book & i purchased it for my husband for Christmas. i think i'm going to share this entry of yours with him...i think it puts it much more simply than the book does. thanks so much for your inspiration.

God's girl said...

SUch a great post sweet one. These are questions I ponder almost everyday. I love Habukkuk and how God answers him. God amazes me so.

I tagged you on my blog. Come over and check it out. No pressure.

Erin Southwell said...

Steph, thank you so much for this today. My family and I are enduring a painful time and I am printing your words to share with my mom and dad while I am up here in michigan.

I love your list of scripture. I also love the Psalm that says the Lord keeps all of my tears in a jar. I'm sure it is over-flowing, but He is still faithful.

God bless you Steph.

TheSipeFamily said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH- I ahve prayed with patients for the first time last semester when I was with an awesome doctor that was known for sharing The Word with her patients. She is part of the reason I wanted to do the bible study. I plan to print out the verses and keep them close to heart. THanks so much. You are a gifted writer!!! I think I will be doing bible study from Holston Valley monday night. My friend is in early labor and they are trying to hold off on delivery. She is really down so I thought she would certainly benefit from some good bible time!!

Joanna said...

Thank you for your reflections. They help me learn and reflect on all God has done for me!