Blessed to Death

This is a letter posted on a Caring Bridge web site for a young boy with acute myelogenous leukemia:

  • God has so many ways to teach patience – and all of the other Fruits of the Spirit. Keep remembering that you are all doing God’s work right now. What a blessed job you are called to do – what an awesome job you all are doing! Thank you for being faithful servants. What an example you are to the rest of us. Rose

Although I’m sure Rose is well intentioned, her comments (to me, at least) raise a number of questions about who she believes God to be and how He interacts with us. Perhaps Rose is a “Godwillian” – someone who believes that whatever happens, God desires it to be, and we need to figure out what it is that God wants us to learn.

I’m guessing that John Piper is a Godwillian. He’s quoted in Greg Boyd’s book, Is God to Blame (pg 48) as saying, “From the smallest thing to the greatest thing, good and evil, happy and sad, pagan and Christian, pain and pleasure – God governs them all for His wise and just and good purpose.”

Greg Boyd responds on pg 53:”Not once did Jesus suggest that a person’s afflictions were brought about or specifically allowed by God as part of a ‘secret plan’. Nor did He suggest that some people suffered because God was punishing them or teaching them a lesson. He didn’t ask people what they might have done to get in the sad predicament they found themselves in – even when dealing with demonized people. Jesus never suggested that a person’s suffering was brought about to contribute to a ‘higher harmony’. To the contrary, Jesus consistently revealed God’s will for people by healing them of their infirmities”.

I’m told that my thoughts on will-of-God issues tend to put God in a box. We mere mortals simply can’t understand the nature of God and how He interacts with His creation. Fair enough. But I can’t help but think that people, such as Rose, who posted about God using leukemia to teach patience, often make God out to be something He isn’t.