I promised to answer questions I raised about suffering with the last blog, so for those who are interested: here are my answers. And my disclaimer is don’t take my word, search it out for yourself. This represents 50+ years of Bible study, but you need to know for yourself, asking God’s Spirit to teach you.
Perspective is a very flexible, subjective thing. Beauty and wisdom are in the eyes of the beholder. We don’t have to come to consensus, but you might think if we have the same teacher, we would.
If we could see all the variables God sees, we would be amazed and overwhelmed. But this has helped me understand a sliver of why my brother wasn’t healed in answer to his sisters’ prayers.
If he had been healed, just to watch his baby girl (now 44) die from cancer, it would have been over-the-top pain. She was the one who sat by his bed the last week of his life.
But why not heal her? My religion shows and teaches Jesus healing everyone who asked. Even now Jesus heals those who ask, but not always in their time frame.
He’s promised to heal, He’s promised to answer, but not necessarily now. And not at our demand. Because like a loving and faithful parent, he sometimes says “Wait a while,” and other times He says “No” because His wisdom sees ahead.
However, He has supplied some examples of changing His “no” to yes with disastrous results because someone cried and asked Him to.
The story of Hezekiah* is one of these. He became very ill, and God sent Isaiah to tell him that he would not recover. Now Hezekiah was one of the best kings Israel ever had. He brought tremendous reforms, and did wonderful things, and God honored him–even defeating Sennacherib and the whole Assyrian army when they threatened Israel.
Because he had been so faithful to God, he cried to God and used his record of faithfulness as reason God should heal him. And so God did. He even gave him a sign that he would recover that got the attention of the secular nations around.
But when ambassadors came asking about it, Hezekiah’s faith failed him. He didn’t talk about God or his healing. He showed them what he knew they could relate to–treasure. And they did–they came back and got it.
But that isn’t the worst. During the extra 15 years given to Hezekiah, his son Manasseh was born–one of the worst kings, if not the worst, Israel ever had. He took Israel away from God for 40 years, and undid all the work of his father. It was the beginning of the end that led to being conquered. So what do you think? Was that just so we could read about it and learn to trust His “no”?
If we can get to the place of trusting God–just believing He is all good, and knows what is best, we would be happier. We would be a lot less confused and more relaxed. We don’t know what He sees, what He knows, so knowing Him becomes the only thing we can depend on. He is the loving, all-wise parent.
I’ve been trying to understand what life is all about for 55 years, and in the last ten, two things have become very clear: God is all good and He’s not afraid to suffer and die, and even though He hates suffering and death, He’s not afraid to let us suffer and die. He sees death very differently than we do.
But that’s for next time.