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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
Looking for a church in the Omaha area? Come check out ours on Sunday mornings at 11!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cancer and God's Sovereignty

Recently I had a rare opportunity to meet one "of whom the world was not worthy". I received a call out of the blue from the wife of a friend. He was out of town for the week and unavailable when asked to visit another military man in the hospital who was undergoing treatment for lymphoma. When asked if I would visit this person I've never met under such heavy circumstances, I accepted with more than a little anxiousness.

This young man named Zach had moved to Omaha with his newly-wed wife just so he could receive specialized treatment at the med center. They were alone in Omaha, having spent their entire time in the hospital, and he needed "a brother to talk to" as he later told me. He told me how God had just recently gotten his attention and at the same time brought his wife-to-be into his life. There was such an atmosphere of joy in that room that at times I forgot we were in a hospital.

I was brought to tears as we read the first chapter of Ephesians. It struck me how one so afflicted according to the world's standards could speak so easily and affectionately about the sovereignty and providence of God. But, as one strongly influenced by Reformed thinking, the sovereignty of God is truly a source of comfort when understood properly. Certainly, while God does not actively cause everything, even that which He allows is in His design. As John Piper said, "What God permits, He permits for a reason. And that reason is His design. " As Christians, we are not promised to be saved from all sickness and pain, only that there is purpose behind it all and heaven after it all. Indeed, as we loosen our clutches on the world and grasp tighter to Christ, we can say with Paul "To die is gain" and see sovereignty behind it.

I know that a sick man's confidence in the sovereignty of God is not an argument for His sovereignty. But, if the Bible can be proven the Word of God (which I believe it has been), and if the Bible teaches the sovereignty of God (which I believe it does), then Zach's peace and confidence is the perfect outworking of loving God's sovereignty.

Not two weeks after I met Zach for the first and only time, he passed away from complications resulting from the lymphoma. For those who may read this and have differing positions about the sovereignty of God, my words may sound calloused or ignorant. For those who don't believe in any sort of afterlife, they may sound like the mental crutch of a wishful thinker. But for Zach, God's sovereignty gave him joy in his circumstances, hope in the future, and peace even in the prospect of death. And I came away from the hospital not depressed or second-guessing my theology, but rather more confident and at peace in the sovereignty of God than before.

Don't Waste Your Cancer by John Piper

1 comment:

reformedlawless said...


Thank you for visiting my blog. I live in a place where folks easily give God credit for the good things but blame something or someone for the bad. I cannot imagine God being in control of one and not the other. My only source of comfort is knowing that my God is in absolute control of everything.

Blessings Brother,