Last week when I was visiting my friend Randy, I had a lot of thoughts, emotions, and spiritual ponderings. We played a lot of games and laughed a lot, but it was hard to get past the place where people go to get treated for cancer.
Randy has AML, a fast growing leukemia, seemingly treatable, but I talked with a woman in the hallway with a brain tumor. It was her birthday, and her blood transfusion was scheduled for the very next day.
I walked the hallways peeking in the doorways of the other patients, wondering…
Why does this stuff happen?
Why doesn't cancer continue to plague humanity?
What's with a world filled with disease, pain, and heartache?
I can understand if someone chooses to smoke their whole life and suffers the consequences of poor decisions. I can even get it if poor diet is responsible, but for some of these folks in the Acute Cancer Bone Marrow Transplant center; they didn't do anything but wake up in the morning.
Want to take it a step further?
What about the kids up there?
Why are they going through this journey of replacing every cell in the body just to live?
I'm struggling with this one.
The Atheists say, "This is just the way the world turns. Disease is a part of the human condition and always has been. The fittest survive, and that's just the way it goes." But Christopher Hitchens, the world renown atheist, is now suffering from his own worldview.
It's a stark reminder that pain and suffering isn't something regulated to the cries of "Where's God Now," because even those who don't believe in God have to deal with the reality of cancer in today's world.
The Eastern Faiths say we're all on a cyclical re-emergence called reincarnation. Each of us has a responsibility to achieve goals in this life directly effecting the way our next life plays out. Which seems to give more credence to a cause and effect Universe, but still brings me back to the "why" question.
And Christians have been wrestling with this question ever since the Garden of Eden. Why would a good God allow for such pain in the world?
Every now and again I'm faced with tragedy steeping so far into the relm of the can't be known, that I'm easily pessimistic of the easy answers.
God is just testing.
We are just learning.
He is preparing us.
We are on the journey to find life here so we'll enjoy the afterlife in His presence.
But all those answers come up short in my book.
I realize the power of sin.
I know the reality of biology.
I'm keenly sensical to the psychology behind knowing.
But what happens when a disease ravages your body? Where's the God narrative in that?
The only lens I find comfort is the one through which Jesus declares, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, and your soul. This is the First and Greatest Commandment. And the Second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-40)
My focus then is taken off the disease and placed in the reaction to the disease.
The beauty of Randy's condition is watching his love for God continue to grow. He is loving God with all he's got, and his premonition to fill the room with prayer is present when you visit.
And then the deeper sense of community developing as we return to a place where friends can rally around a disease and support each other, brings into focus the meaning Jesus tried to give us as we learn how to love. Laughing. Living. Loving. Rejoicing. Mourning. Bearing the burdens together, it's almost as if it's a reminder of why God created us to live together in the first place.
Right now, I'm struggling to find the right theological answers.
I've read C.S. Lewis. I've studied Bonehoffer. I've tried to logically put pain and suffering in a box, but I'm reduced to a place where trusting God has a purpose is the only place I can go.
Maybe, "Why?" is the wrong question.
Maybe we should be focused on how we can confront disease head on with each other as we learn to Love God and Love Others.
That's where I'm sitting today.
In a lack of understanding, but full of faith God has a reason.
Praying for you today, my friend.