Sunday, October 7, 2007

God's Will?

I had a distressing experience this week when a well intended man, dropped off a book for me. The opening quote made me sick to my stomach. (sicker than the chemo made me feel)I believed that the theology was off...way off. I wrote my father-in-law for his thoughts on the matter, since he is a gifted, renowned, and published theologian. The opening quote was this, "God's perfect will is not to heal you...His perfect will is that you don't get sick!"- Henry W. Wright I won't read any further at that point. My gut reaction was to burn the book, or at the very least give it back to him, or just get rid of it.

The following is the written response of my Father-in-law, Dr. Paul D Janz. He was able to articulate very eloquently and intelligently, what I was thinking and feeling and knew to be right.

By:

Dr Paul D Janz
Dept of Theology and Religious Studies
King's College London


My goodness, Feather, I can see how this would have been distressing! I'm very glad you didn't read any further, and God bless you for it! These kinds of things are always a 'false gospel', and a false gospel of the most insipid and devious and contemptible kind. You're probably right that the person who gave you the book was well intentioned, but the original perpetrators of this kind of thing not only pervert and destroy the very heart of the gospel but invariably also do it for selfish gain.

They are false and perverted to the core because they effectively deny the agony of Gethsemane and the Cross, from which Jesus himself asked to be spared but was not. They deny Christ's suffering without which there is no redemption for us (Heb. 2). They deny the example of the apostle Paul, who was throughout his whole ministry plagued with an illness so
severe that it was a 'trial' to those around him, an illness which he pleaded with God three times to be delivered from, only to be given the answer: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor. 12.9). In fact Paul says explicitly to the Galatians: 'You know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself' (Gal 4.12-14). St Paul talks in fact about 'rejoicing in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope' (Rom 5.3). Hebrews 2:10 talks about Jesus himself 'being made perfect through suffering' and only through suffering becoming 'the author of our salvation'. All the Pauline epistles are full of this kind of language, and so are the gospels. Many of the most loving and selfless missionaries, such as David Livingstone, suffered deep and long from very severe and agonizing illness and were a blessing from God to the world for it! Or
think of people like Vern Heidebrecht who shine out the love and righteousness of God in new and more powerful ways because of illness, and in illness.

The people who perpetrate this kind of thing (not the person who gave you the book, poor soul) are just like the 'name it and claim it' lot, whose god is their wallets and their stomach. If you really want to know what I think of these kinds of people, who prey on poor souls with less life experience and wisdom than you have, read Jude 11-13. Their website confirms even more strongly their status as purveyors of those kinds of perversions. You can see that this kind of thing really hits a nerve with me, because it goes to the heart of everything that the Christian life is not, and denies everything I believe about the life and power of Jesus Christ.

God bless you Feather! And thank you for writing to me about this. You are a shining light for people around you, even, and maybe especially, when you are most downtrodden. And in bearing your own suffering with the forbearance and hope that you do, you yourself are a 'participant in the sufferings of Christ' himself (1 Peter 4.13) and a 'reflection of his glory' to the rest of us!

You're in our prayers every day many times. God bless you again!
Paul

5 comments:

running wildly said...

Feather, this is a very thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing. I hope it's alright with you that I add you to the links list on my blog. I just want to share your journey with some of my readers whom I know will be greatly impacted by your words. Blessings on you as you celebrate thanksgiving today.

running wildly said...

I hope you don't mind, but I featured you in a post I just wrote since I was profoundly touched by your story. You can check it out at www.runningwildly.blogspot.com

Ej said...

I was reading Running Wildly and came by. Thanks you for your courage to post about this experience. I met you when we attended Alderbrook several years ago. We'll be praying for you!

Phyllis said...

AMEN!!! to everything Paul said!

Susan said...

Hi Feather -- I stumbled across your wonderful blog in my search for information for my own breast cancer, just diagnosed yesterday. Fortunately, it is a very early case of DCIS, and my prognosis is excellent at this point. I must say I am inspired by your fight, and can only hope to have that kind of strength and transparency if I were to end up in your situation.

I would like to comment on the "perfect will" quote that you received last year. I, too, am a believer and I think I do understand the spirit of the quote, so I would like to give my two cents, for what that is worth. I do agree with the quote. God created a perfect world with no disease, sadness, or sin. This was His perfect plan. But as we know, Satan brought all of this evil into the world. God allowed it, for his own divine purpose, but the world we live in today does not represent His perfect will -- only His tolerance for it now until the end, when He will vanquish the Enemy. But for now, we all face difficulty in this life, and that is not what God would have for us. I don't believe the quote is saying that He cannot, (or does not want to) heal you now. He loves you as a dear daughter and would never want you to be suffering like this. This is what the quote means, I believe: that God, in His perfect will, would rather NOT that you must be healed, but rather that you were never ill to begin with. That would be His perfect will for you, loving you as He does. I feel the same way toward my children, as I am sure you do too!

I hope this encourages you -- we all look forward to the day, sick or not, when His Church will be together in His presence, away from sin, sickness and evil. I trust I will meet you in person there, a long, LONG time from now!

Susan