When you have cancer or are facing any number of frightening, threatening, tragic or devastating circumstances, it shakes you. Why?
Probably because we have some pretty well defined notions of what life is supposed to be like. We should be healthy. No one we love should die before they are 90 and then, only peacefully in their sleep. No one young or good or talented should become ill or injured. We should not ever be fired. We should not experience unrequited love. We should not get fat. Our beloved goldfish should not go the way of the city water system. (Well, maybe most of us have come to terms that goldfish have expiration dates.)
But seriously. We have this idea that if we follow some rules like:
Don’t kill anyone
Don’t steal anything
Don’t move someone’s parking space saving chair in Pittsburgh
Don’t say mean things about Aunt Millie even though she is SO awful
…and maybe a few more regarding sex, drugs and listening to Nickleback, we deserve a pain free, tragedy free life. Where does this garbage come from? I mean, it’s just simply not true. Look around you. I bet you know someone nice and sweet and good who has cancer. (What? Me? Awwww…thanks.).
So…if you believe that stuff, I’m asking you to really think about how that belief system holds up. I don’t think it does for two reasons.
The first is, umm, reality. Tragedy befalls the righteous and the wicked just about equally, from where I’m sitting. Sometimes as a direct consequence of someone’s poor choices and sometimes for reasons we can’t see and must wrestle with. But there isn’t a naughty and nice list, where the nice escape the tough stuff.
Secondly, The Bible tells us that’s not really how it works. Look at Job. And Paul. They went through crazy scary, bad stuff. And God loved them an extra special lot. Think about that. God allows terrible troubles to fall upon His beloved children. Weird, huh?
I’ve discussed at length this topic in previous blog entries. Basically my perspective is that what we tend to experience as “bad” (while it may be terribly painful and not how God originally intended…blame Adam and Eve) God can and will ultimately work it out for our good. And the point I want to make here is about peace. I am learning that it is possible to be so confident in God’s loving sovereign nature that one can become virtually unshakable. Peace that surpasses or transcends all understanding.
I’m not there yet, but I’m growing fast. I am seeing a new way of looking at difficult circumstances. Instead of panic, I think “hmm, I wonder what God is up to, here.” And I watch and I wait and I look eagerly for His hand, for Him moving.
Of course, I still want to take the reins and control this crappy cancer situation like I do with everything else. I’m quite tempted to say “ok, so the cancer is gone, never to be heard from again and let’s get back to reading books by David Sedaris and worrying about chipped nail polish and if my jeans fit.” But as tempted as I am to stand up and insist that God turn this wagon around and head for The Gap’s denim sale…the path ahead is the one He chose for me. It’s terrifying, yes. But it’s also alluring. And exciting. It’s an adventure. I’m in.