Verse of the Day: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Let’s see what we’ve learned so far this week:

  • Day 1– God is in control even when cancer makes our lives feel out of control.
  • Day 2– God wants to draw us near so much He sent His only Son to die for us.
  • Day 3– God’s main purpose is our salvation, but He hates suffering.

This leaves me wondering, “Where does all the suffering come from if God hates suffering?” Perhaps it would help to look at the simple life of a first grader.

God is Bigger Than…a First Grader

As my son walked from the idyllic time of the childhood paradise known as kindergarten, into the adventure of first grade, I heard a door slam shut. No longer were his days filled with playing on the floor and listening to stories as he drifted off to sleep. Now he sat in a desk, completed worksheets and dare I say it? He had homework! The impact was obvious the first day of school – when my unending ball of energy came home from school and lay on the couch until supper. My prodding and the sounds of his friends playing outside could not budge him. What changed? My son had discovered “work,” and he was tired. First grade was hard work.

After a week or two, Garrett’s energy level returned. Then he came home with a note from his teacher: “Garrett was throwing rocks on the playground and will miss recess for one week.”
This note was followed by my son’s tears and pleadings and, of course, his nerve rattling anticipation of his father coming home. Now my son found more than just work in first grade; he found consequences.

Then came the infamous bus incident. Garrett’s school bus stop was the next neighborhood over so I would drive him to and from the bus stop. One afternoon I was late meeting the bus. Garrett spent the next 45 minutes riding the bus to the end of the line where I met him. As he climbed off the bus tired, frustrated and scared, there were more tears and pleadings, but this time they were mine. Garrett found persecution.

What are the causes for struggles in life? Struggles fall into three categories:

  1. Struggles due to our circumstances: We live in a fallen world where work, burdens, and cancer are a part of life. Garrett’s exhaustion was due to no fault of his own, but rather the fatigue of moving from a half-day kindergarten to a full day first grade. Cancer falls into this category. Cancer is not sent by God, but is a horrendous darkness in this fallen world.
    Cancer is also indiscriminate, and unfair. Fair would be bad people – like murderers, rapists, and terrorists – getting cancer. Unfair is when cancer hits a mother of young children, a hardworking grandpa ready to enjoy his retirement, an innocent child, a loving sister or a precious best friend.
  2. Struggles due to disobedience: We’re all tempted and too often choose to do what we desire instead of what God desires. Is there any greater temptation to a six-year-old boy than a rock on a playground? Regardless, this type of struggle is the consequence of our own behavior. Cancer is NOT a struggle of disobedience. Cancer victims have not done anything to deserve cancer. That’s why someone who suffers from it is called a “cancer victim.” If you have cancer, God is not punishing you. There is no tally sheet in heaven where God tracks your sins and then punishes you with cancer. Nor is there a list of faithful people who are immune to the darkness of cancer.
  3. Struggles due to conviction: We’re following the will of God and suddenly other people’s sin cause us pain, even to the point of persecution. My negligence at the bus stop caused Garrett to struggle through no fault of his own. There are some cancer cases that are the result of another person’s sin. These are cases where someone has contaminated a work or home environment with no regard to danger placed on others. Unfortunately, most cancer is not due to a specific location or event; it is a condition of the world in which we live.
  • Do you agree? Does it seem to you that cancer is the result of living in a fallen world? Or do you believe that cancer is the result of something you did or someone else did to you?

Before we go on, it’s important that you know one thing: your struggles are not stronger than the love Christ has for you. There is no place you have been and nowhere you will go that the love of Christ does not go with you. Look at today’s verse:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Look at the list in the verse above about believers and answer these questions:

  • Is there anything in your past, anything that you have done or was done to you, that could separate you from the love of God?
  • Is there anything in your future, any pain, any procedure, any mistake that that could separate you from the love of God?
  • Is there any evil, any demon, or evil person or evil deed that that could separate you from the love of God?
  • Even in death, whether it’s from cancer or a car accident or dying in your sleep, could you be separated from the love of God?

Pray with me:
Sweet Jesus, come into my heart and let me know that this promise is true: that truly nothing in heaven or on Earth can separate me from Your love. Your love is complete, it is unending and it is unstoppable. I praise You for your love. Let it fill my heart to overflowing.
Amen