I was on my way to a funeral recently with my wife when we had a debate. We talked about the peculiar ways of God when it comes to healing. You see, we have a loved one who is ill and we have been praying fervently for healing. However, with faith undaunted no doubt, we have yet to witness a complete and enduring breakthrough. Although we persisted in our faith, my wife and I took the mindless liberty to engage in some aspects of the subject on theodicy, that is, why is there suffering under the watchful eye of a loving God?
Below is one part of our discussion:-
Wife:...where does diseases and death originate?
Me : Are you referring to the first biblical cause or the medical, biological causes?
Wife: ...the Bible reminds us about Adam's fall, right?
Me : So, we are talking about the Genesis narrative...
Wife: Yes, and that's the origin of it all.
Me : And the blame for the fall lies with our pact with the devil, our giving in to his seduction?
Wife: Is there any explanation?
Me : Ok, let’s take it as that. This means that there's nothing we can do about it?
Wife: No, Jesus came and undo all that. He offers redemption and healing.
Me : Ok, I concur. So it's done then, or undone to be more accurate. Jesus undid and undo all that. If so, why didn't he undo it for our loved one?
Wife: Well, I don't know. He did not create diseases and death that's for sure. But he allowed it.
Me : So he has the power to heal just like that and he did it for some and did not do it for others?
Wife: Yes. He has healed many mind you.
Me : Why is he then apparently selective about healing?
Wife: I don't know. You've to ask him.
Me : So, who is to blame then?
Wife: I still blame it all on the devil.
Me : For causing it or allowing it?
Wife: For the fall.
Me : But man made his choice right?
Wife: Well then, both shared the blame.
Me : So, we have three parties here. Devil, man and God. One tempted, one chose and one allowed it. And the one who allowed it is cleared and the other two are guilty as charged. That is the logical conclusion of your reasoning?
Wife: Yes, he is God after all. He knows what he's doing. I still blame the devil.
That about ended our discussion. We parked our car and walked to the funeral.
As I was walking there, I mused, my unhinged thoughts took flight. While I think that in this day and age, where medical science have advanced sufficiently to explain a lot about causes and symptoms of diseases and death, the devil is still to be blamed for that Eden's temptation. He just got the shorter end of the condemnation stick I guess. He started the cursed mortal ball rolling and it has been rolling ever since.
However, my thoughtless point is that of the mysterious part that God plays in all this. It is mysterious because up till today, none is the wiser. If God is God, then nothing bad is Him. And He can do no wrong. He is God after all right? This leaves me in faith’s foxhole when it comes to healing. If the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, then believers can find one hundred and one ways that is wrong with the man who claims to be righteous when he prays and not one thing wrong with his prayer request being marked “Return to sender”.
Of course, if the prayer happens to be answered in full, all heavens break loose. A celebration is in order. Otherwise, the return-to-sender heavenly mail is re-stamped and sent back out again and again and again. And if God appears selective about answering prayers, then we are definitely selective about recalling them. It is a dreaded exercise in cognitive dissonance to defend that one answered prayer (be it a recovery from last night's backache or a common cold) against the face of many stubborn afflictions despite our earnest petitions.
Ultimately, the one who caused it (devil) and the one who succumbed to it (man) have to bear the brunt of it all. But the one who allowed it, or promised to undo it yet to no avail in some seemingly genuine (and urgent) cases, gets to justify it completely because He is God. I know…I have crossed the line. It’s a lamentation, remember?
Alas, my bugbear is not that He is God - that's duly acknowledged with accorded reverence. But my earnest probe is, "Why, God?"
At this time, my musing was disrupted when I was asked to take my seat in the funeral and await the procession and trip to Mandai crematorium for the final send off. Another prayer returned to sender… Cheerz.