[Note: We just returned from our daughter’s annual check-up at St. Jude Cancer Hospital. All her tests were good and there are no signs of cancer in her body. I wrote the following message in January, 2013 when we were first told of her cancer. This was a difficult time; it’s hard to believe this was over three years ago. And though Kaylee is doing well today, all of our lives have been forever changed. Our diet has certainly been dramatically altered. But more importantly, my understanding of God and the issues of pain and suffering have been deepened and solidified. I have thought much about this during the past few years but I believe this initial message captures much of what I still understand today. I pray it will be a blessing.]
“Mr. and Mrs. Troxel, I am sorry to inform you that your daughter has cancer.” These are words I have prayed I would never hear; but on Thursday morning, I did. It has been quite an experience to share our life with the people of this ministry over these last many years. You have prayed and encouraged us through the many trials with our daughter, Stacey, and then again last year with the sickness and death of my sister. I suppose this is where Christianity and all of its associated theology becomes real. So, here we go again.
Our twelve year old daughter, Kaylee, has not been feeling well since before Christmas. At first we thought it was a mild case of the flu; then, since she was having stomach pain, we thought perhaps she developed an allergy to dairy products. We treated and made changes but the symptoms continued. After checking her for various bacterial infections as well as the possibility of parasites from a recent mission trip, all with negative results, my wife requested an ultrasound which was accomplished last Monday.
The Doctor saw a mass over her right ovary and requested a blood test; we received the results on Thursday morning. Kaylee has been diagnosed with a somewhat rare form of Germ Cell Ovarian Cancer. We will travel to MD Anderson in Houston sometime this week for surgery and then most likely follow with a few rounds of chemotherapy. We believe the cancer is relatively well contained but has grown fast to a diameter of 13 cm. She will definitely have one ovary removed but we will not know what else until the middle of surgery. Your prayers are appreciated.
One thing I have learned over the years in this ministry is that on any given day there are people all around the world facing trials, experiencing pain. Pain is not localized to one part of the world, it is universal. The pain may be related to finances, or health, or relationships, or in some cases a terribly sad combination. The pain may be caused by bad personal choices or the bad, or even evil, choices of others. But no matter what the cause, the same question of “Why?” often rises to the surface. “Why is God causing, or allowing, this to happen? What could possibly be His purpose for such pain?”
I now believe these questions are the result of bad, or poorly understood, theology. God does not bring pain! He does not bring sickness or death. He does not bring tornadoes, droughts, or floods. He does not bring the loss of a job or the loss of a spouse, and He certainly does not bring mass shootings into schools or fly passenger planes into buildings. These things are NOT from God! But He does have a purpose.
Our Biblical history tells us there are times when God dramatically intervenes and directly causes events to occur, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. He has the ability to direct even the most minor of details, and sometimes He does. But this is certainly not how we see God normally operate in the world. His general mode and method seems to be to have set things in motion and to then make Himself available for a relationship. God established the motion of the stars and then left them to continue on their way. When He created man, He created in His image but allowed for the possibility of choices, both good and bad. These choices have lead to a beautiful but fallen world, beautiful but fallen people. This world, as well as its people, result in a great deal of pain. Pain is with us, but it is not from God, and God has never promised to remove our pain. But He does have a purpose!
“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
God’s purpose? His purpose in pain is the same as His purpose in joy; His purpose in tragedy is the same as His purpose in a colorful sunset; His purpose is that we are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). His purpose is that we walk with Him, hand in hand, learning to trust Him and love Him through ALL things, both good and bad. His plan and purpose is a restored relationship! No, God is not the cause of this cancer. Tragedy is not part of His perfect plan. But our Heavenly Father is being a wonderful comfort to each member of our family, moment by moment! And we know that as we walk through this trial, with Him, learning to trust Him and drawing closer to His side, we will surely be accomplishing His purpose in pain.
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God’s Daily Word Ministries
**** Reading Plan ****
Jul 27 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37; Romans 10:13-11:12; Psalm 21:1-13; Proverbs 20:4-6