In many ways it made perfect sense to be angry with God. At least that’s what a lot of people seemed to think. “It’s okay to be angry with God,” they’d say. “He can take it.” My husband, John, had just been diagnosed with a treatable, yet curable cancer after all. Anger seemed a logical reaction. And yet the truth is, getting angry with God never even entered our minds. I know that people deal with the difficulties of life in different ways, and some do get angry at God. That’s just not how I responded. If you are struggling with being angry with God, my advice would be to simply tell him (he knows anyway) and ask him to help you work through those feelings. Here’s my take on it.
Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” If this verse is true, and I believe it is, then I’m pretty sure God didn’t give my husband cancer. No, if God is a God who gives good gifts to his children the cancer “gift” most definitely didn’t come from him.
If I have to place blame for John’s cancer (or anyone’s really) on something other than the fact that we live in a fallen, diseased world, then I’m going to choose Satan. And you know what? It wouldn’t bother Satan one iota if I got angry with him. Because the enemy knows that when I allow myself to be consumed with anger, I have taken my eyes off the cross of Christ. Quite frankly, Satan has messed with the wrong woman if he thinks I’m going to give up the precious hours of my day stewing over something he did. I have better things to do with my time.
Anyone who has ever walked the cancer journey knows that there are dark, dark days. And there are frustrating, scary, and sad days; days when you wonder if God is really listening and your hope is flailing like a ship tossed by the waves. On one such day in our journey I emailed a friend sharing my despair. She reminded me of the story in 1 Samuel 7 about a time when the Israelites were in the midst of a battle with the Philistines. They had just turned their hearts back to God (yet again) and Samuel pleaded with the Lord to save them. Just as the Philistines arrived to attack the Israelites, “the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder” throwing the Philistines into confusion thus granting victory to the Israelites.
When the battle was over and the victory secured, 1 Samuel 7:12 tells us, “Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” After relaying this story my friend asked me to find a rock, any rock, and put it someplace where I would see it often. She told me that whenever I looked at it to remind myself, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” What an amazing reminder that rock has been speaking truth to our situation.
When we are going through tough times, it’s so easy to fill our heads with lies . “This will never end; God has left me; I must have done something terribly wrong to have to go through this;” are all lies that the enemy throws our way to distract us from the truth that God has been faithful before and He will always be faithful.
God promises us in Romans 8:28 that he uses everything, even cancer, for our good. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Mind you, Romans 8:28 is THE. LAST. VERSE. I would ever share with someone going through a hard time. Using this verse to “encourage” a person in deep pain just seems like the right verse at the wrong time; kind of like going up to someone who just got stabbed and saying, “Now, now, dear. It’s all going to be okay. Don’t you worry; God’s got this. You do trust him, don’t you?”
Even though it may not be the verse I want to hear out of someone else’s mouth in the midst of my pain, I can tell you without reservation that it is truth. I have already seen God working on our behalf. Every day we see His goodness in our journey; a card from a friend, a meal shared, an email with an encouraging verse, strength when we are weak, an answered prayer when we are at the lowest of lows. God continues to show us that He is amazingly, abundantly good and knowing I am a recipient of the goodness of Almighty God, why would I ever be angry?
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.