When something bad happens in the life of a ‘new’ Christian, they will often say “why is this happening to me?” (‘New’ here refers to one who has newly put their faith in Jesus and thus entered into a personal relationship with God.) When something bad happens in the life of a mature Christian (i.e one who has trusted God personally over a longer period of time), they will often say “Lord, why is this happening to me?” Notice they address God as “Lord”. Same basic questions, with different motivations. The new Christian may think it unreasonable that a bad thing has happened. But the mature Christian knows that problems are a part of life in an imperfect, fallen world. The mature Christian’s “Why?” question is meant to discern from God what he can learn from this difficult situation – how he might grow in faith and be of help to others in similar situations.
In the book of Genesis, God had revealed a distinct, seemingly positive plan for Joseph’s life. But when the teenage Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, he no doubt asked the “Why?” question. At first, he may have thought “what did I do to deserve this?” But later, his “Why?” question turned into an exclamation. “Oh, now I see why!” He realized God had sent him to Egypt to prepare a place for his father Jacob’s family to escape the famine in Canaan. In the end, Joseph was able to say to his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
When we experience difficulties in life, it is not wrong to ask “Why?” Just make sure we are asking for the right reason. God can indeed use our cancer experiences. There are no accidents in the life of a Christian. God has a plan and much to teach us as He guides us even through troubling times such as a cancer diagnosis.
Portions of the above were published in the May 17th, 2021 Turning Point devotional by David Jeremiah.