I better get right to the point since I started with a swear word. But first, I’m still transitioning from essay to blog. Maybe we should call it ‘Blessay.’ But that sounds a little wonky-spiritual to me. I know of people who refuse to call it a potluck. They call it a ‘pot blessing.’ I mean, seriously: “Hey—you gonna bring that yummy casserole to the pot blessing?”
I’m here today because of a C.S. Lewis entry in a devotional a friend gave me. Check this out: “Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist would say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.’ The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’ For Christianity is a fighting religion…it thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”
One of the things I’d like to see put right is this idea that cancer and disease is from God. If cancer is from God, then Jesus owes an apology to every person he healed while he walked the earth. He may have gotten in the way of God’s plan for that person, you see; he may have thwarted some higher purpose God had for the development of that person’s character.
In 2001, I found myself suddenly in the hospital with an abdominal infection. Not once did I imagine this infection was from the hand of God. Instead, I and all the rest—doctors, Jack, friends, and family—fought the thing tooth and nail with any means we had. The doctors fought with drugs, family and friends fought with prayer. A week later I left the hospital considerably diminished, but alive and well and with a new appreciation for doctors and their gifts of healing, for friends and family and their tenacity to pray.
Did Jesus ever once hand out cancer, epilepsy, madness, or any other kind of illness to those who came to him? Not once. He healed every disease brought to him, and why? Because it was something bad, something not a part of his plan at creation.
People I love have died of cancer and disease. And we fought it every inch. They were brave people who went down in harness, fighting. And the fighting wasn’t damned nonsense. It was brave and true, and I will see them again someday and tell them what it meant to me that they fought.
Here’s a quote from Aeschylus: “Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” Cancer and sickness, disease and madness, tyrants all. Fight them on your feet, with every tool God has given.
Christianity is a fighting religion.