I was getting ready to do some homework this morning. I briefly went on facebook just for kicks, and got pulled into reading the comments on an article about pediatric cancer. One of the comments grabbed my attention. This person was referencing a quote by Stephen Fry. In response to what he would say if confronted by God, Stephen said,
“…bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil.”
As this quote was the brunt of this person’s argument on facebook, it took a lot for me to not get involved in the debate. I don’t get in facebook arguments with people because of the futility of it. But, luckily, I have an outlet to express my dismay. There are a few things wrong with Mr. Fry’s statement. The first is that this fallen world is our fault. The second is that God cannot be judged by human standards. You may be thinking, well how is pediatric cancer being horrible a human standard? You’re right, it’s pretty universal. There is very little argument against it being a horrible thing. But the assumption is that if God felt the same way and He’s all powerful, why wouldn’t he eradicate it? Good question. Let’s get into it.
I need to start off by saying that the evil in this world isn’t God’s fault, it’s humanity’s fault. Let’s start at the beginning when Adam and Eve committed the first sin. After the fall of humanity (Adam and Eve at this point), God told Eve that childbirth would now be painful (Genesis 3:16). He told Adam that he would have to work for his food and livelihood and have obstacles in his way (Genesis 3:17-19). Herein starts the fallen world. Adam and Eve wanted free will. So, they took it, against God’s instruction. At this time, our physical bodies began breaking down as well. Illnesses are often a combination of genes, environmental causes, and horrible decisions – whether ours or someone else’s. The fallen world began because of a choice made by free will. One of the next stories we hear in the Bible is how Cain murdered his brother Abel, by his own choice, out of jealousy (Genesis 4:8, 1 John 3:12, Hebrews 11:4). Then, we eventually hear about how Noah (who heeded God’s instructions) had to build an ark to save his family as God swept away the resulting world of inequity (Genesis 6:9-22).
So, we get free will and, all of a sudden, the things we can’t control, like pediatric cancer, are God’s fault? Guys, read the Bible. Sickness isn’t new. What about leprosy? Blindness? Paralysis? Difficulty in life? Sickness is not new. But, you miss the bigger picture because you can’t see the bigger picture. Neither can I. Is cancer awful? Yes. Is cancer unfair? Yes. According to to human standards. Now, I don’t think God likes it either. But because it’s not completely eradicated, God must be at fault. News flash: God doesn’t play by our rules of morality and “what people deserve.” We wanted free will, and God promised to give it to us. Christians choose to follow God and live in faith that God has a bigger plan. There has to be more than this world. But, living with Christ doesn’t mean that bad things still don’t happen. If you don’t believe me that it’s not God’s fault, look at who Jesus is. He loves children and He directly healed the sick while He was on earth (Matthew 19:13-15). If He did that, you think He went back up in heaven just to make us miserable? Sickness is not a plan of God’s to make us miserable.
Again, I understand the other side of it. I’m human too. A question I ask in my own journey with illness is similar – how can God do this to such a young person? I was desperate to blame someone, so I understand wanting to blame God. It’s easy. But, that doesn’t mean it’s right.
Let’s talk briefly about this NY abortion bill that was recently signed into law. These Bible verses say what’s wrong with that, by the way: Psalm 127:3, Jeremiah 1:5, Exodus 20:13, Job 31:15. Who signed that into law? Humans. Who wants to take human life into their own hands? Humans. But, also, who wants to save kids with cancer? Humans. There are people who work tirelessly to to take care of these kids. Again, humans! We have good and bad in all of us. When you’re so focused on the bad part of something (which it’s hard not to be), you miss the good part. You miss God’s heart in the midst of all the awful.
We create derision, divisiveness, and trouble with our own choices.
People go into marriage with the assumption that divorce is an option if they get bored, which affects families and youth.
That’s not what Jesus teaches » Matthew 19:3-8
We have sex before marriage and have unwanted babies who end up aborted or in the foster care system.
That’s not what Jesus teaches » 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
We run on a society of comparison and outrage.
That’s not what Jesus teaches » 2 Corinthians 10:12
We all want to satisfy our sexual desires in one way or the other with pornography and loose behavior.
That’s not what Jesus teaches » Colossians 3:5
Kids struggle with broken families, bullying, and mental illness that leads to school shootings, more bullying, and increased heartache. You can’t pray in school anymore.
That’s not what Jesus teaches » Romans 8:15-17, Deuteronomy 11:16-21, 1 John 3:1, Ephesians 6:4
We wanted free will. Look where the results of our choices have gotten us.
Can pediatric cancer be explained? Not necessarily. But neither can type 1 diabetes. Or cystic fibrosis. Or epilepsy. Or other diseases suffered by children. Is it horrible? Absolutely. Is sickness God’s fault? No. Is it the fault of a fallen world? Yes. Just like Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, the lepers, the woman who had been sick for a lifetime who touched Jesus’ robes, Sodom and Gomorrah, we suffer the results of a fallen world. There are both good and bad things in this world, there’s no doubt. But, blaming God for the results of our series of bad choices is not the answer. Look for God’s heart in the middle of struggle. Don’t make the mistake I made (during my struggle with MS) of assuming God has it out for humanity. Live in the truth of who God is and what He wants for us. Nothing escapes God’s sovereignty, and justice will come. But we’re the ones who want free will. He provided us instruction with the hope we would choose to listen to it.
“Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct – as irrational animals do – will destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion…’See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and all of the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”
“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”