I’ve had this blog in mind since the week Rebekah was diagnosed with leukemia. I thought it best to wait some time before I wrote it so that I would not seem too presumptuous. But today feels like the right day to write it. Easter Sunday (April 24, 2011) was the first Sunday my family missed gathering with our church because of Rebekah’s cancer. And this past Sunday marked the day our whole family returned to our church gathering. It was a great day of rejoicing for both my family and our church. It’s in light of that milestone that I feel I can honestly write what I’m about to say.
Throughout Rebekah’s cancer I have not been mad at God. I was not mad when she was diagnosed. I was not mad when she was stuck time after time for blood draws, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, bone marrow aspirations, or lumbar punctures. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’ve not done this in my own strength. In God’s good providence, before any of this happened, I had the privilege of walking with precious saints through great tragedy–some that led to death and some that did not. In addition, my seminary studies largely focused on the problem of evil. The lessons that God taught me on those journeys has helped me keep what I believe to be a biblical perspective through tragedy.
It’s not that I haven’t been angry. Anger has been, and will continue to be there. My anger, however has been directed at sin rather than God. While I whole heartedly believe in the sovereignty of God over every molecule, I also believe that the cause of all misery and tragedy in the world is sin. Sin that infects hearts, minds, bodies, and the whole of creation. Let there be no mistake, my daughter’s cancer, like every tragedy, is rooted in sin. We are fallen people who live in a broken world. Things don’t work the way they’re supposed to–though they will one day!
If you view suffering this way every tragedy will produce in you a growing hatred for sin, not God. Here’s how it works in my life. When I’m tempted to sin I remember the devastating effect sin has had in my daughters life. And when I see that, how could I choose to embrace sin? I loth it, I hate it, and my only recourse is to turn to God and find refuge in him. It’s a cruel irony that tragedy often drives people away from God. Running from God is by nature running to sin. Run to sin and you’re running to the very thing that lies behind the tragedy you’re experiencing. When we face tragedy we should instead run away from sin and find comfort in the very precious and great promises of God. In short, tragedy viewed correctly leads us to holiness.
I pray that as we look at our fallen, broken world, full of personal and distant tragedy, we will see the sin that lies behind it. I also pray that will see the God who is greater than sin, the God who sent his son to redeem us from the devastating effects of sin. And seeing those two truth, may every tragedy drive us away from sin and deeper into God, into holiness.