Monday, August 30, 2010

God's infomercial

I just finished reading "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by local author Donald Miller.  I have read all of his books and always find his writing to be both accessible and insightful.  One passage in the book resonated with me in particular.  It talks about the idea that people often expect life to be easy once they become a Christian.  Like some sort of infomercial for the key to happiness on earth.  When in fact, Jesus promises us that life will be filled with trials (John 16:33).  Just look at the earliest Christians, the apostles, and the strife they endured.  Don puts it this way:

"Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus he's been moved from prison to prison, beaten and routinely bitten by snakes?  I don't think many people would be buying that product.  Peter couldn't do much better.  He was crucified upside down, by some reports.  Stephen was stoned outside the city gates.  John, supposedly, was boiled in oil.  It's hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria." 

As life unfolds new trials before me, I find myself again wondering why.  Why would God allow bad things to happen to his beloved children?  As a parent, I would do anything to protect my kids from pain.  So why doesn't my all-powerful heavenly Father protect me from pain?  And if God promises us plans to "prosper us and not to harm us," (Jeremiah 29:11) then why are we allowed to suffer?  What happened to my key to happiness on earth? 

Don answers these why's like this:

"I think Jesus can make things better, but I don't think he is going to make things perfect.  Not here, and not now.  What I love about the true gospel of Jesus, though, is that it offers hope.  Paul has hope our souls will be made complete.  It will happen in heaven, where there will be a wedding and a feast.  I wonder if that's why so many happy stories end in weddings and feasts.  Paul says Jesus is the hope that will not disappoint.  I find that comforting."

God didn't promise heaven on earth.  So while life may totally suck from time to time, I have hope.  And despite my anger and grief and all around confusion, I know God is right here with me.  He will give me the strength to endure (Psalm 46:1). 

All this is to say, my sister has breast cancer.  She is one tough chick and I know she will kick cancer's ever loving arse.  But why the heck does she have to go through this?  God help me, I have no flipping clue.  So I just trust and hope and pray.  If you know my sis and want to follow along as she gives cancer an old fashioned arse whooping, you can find updates here.


Megan August 30, 2010 at 10:20 PM  

I'm so very sorry to read that your sister has cancer. I'm glad you have your faith to help get you through this, even if it doesn't make things easy.

Christie August 30, 2010 at 10:32 PM  

Nothing I love more than reading about cancer getting another well-deserved arse kicking. Best to your sister and your family.

joAnn August 31, 2010 at 9:25 PM  

I work with your sister. She told me first that she found a lump. I prayed hard that it was a cyst. Then they said, ok lets biopsy and I prayed again even harder. I honestly was so mad at God because I prayed and prayed and still she got cancer. My prayer now is that this crisis, which she will beat, will bring her and Todd close to God!

sarah8_24 September 1, 2010 at 2:24 PM  

I am so sorry to read this Lori. I don't know your sister, but her and your family will be in my prayers.


Anonymous September 4, 2010 at 10:02 AM  

JoAnn, You sound very well-meaning and I can tell you care for Traci, but the implication in your last statement is clear and I can't help but refute the premise. Traci may not talk the talk--quoting scriptures, attending church every Sunday, etc, but she WALKS the WALK, which proves to me she is closer to God than anyone I've met.

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