Most of you who read my blog know of my mom's very unstable status in the hospital as she fights ovarian cancer. The below post is not to criticize those who offer encouragement in times like this, but to examine and perhaps even start a discussion over what we say and believe in times of crisis.
I've been having a lot of problems with my faith lately, and I realize that it is a faith immature, not a faith in crisis. Ultimately I still believe in God, I find it hard not to given the overwhelming evidence of creation, the spread of His kingdom, and the truth of the precepts that God and Jesus taught us in the Bible.
However, I feel like I have been living on cookie cutter theology now that I am starting to run into bigger questions. First the question of God's will. I have been struggling for a month over prayer and the results of prayer. James 5:15: "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well..." What if it doesn't? What if a prayer, offered in full faith by thousands of people in dozens of churches across the world doesn't heal? Do we simply write it off as God's will? Many times I hear the results of a seemingly unanswered prayer to be rationalized by, "Well it simply wasn't God's will..." So why then pray? Why if you offered a prayer with full faith was it not answered the way you want it?
I understand that God knows better than us. I've had prayers answered in a different way then I would have liked, and have later understood the blessing of God answering in that way. But what about when it comes down to life and death issues?
Which raises the second issue that I'm struggling with and that is the afterlife. Most people attempt to comfort with, "Well she [my mom] will be in a better place if she passes away." I'm not sure I have assurance that she is immediately going to be rushed off to heaven. Do I believe she will go to heaven some day? Yes! Of course! But I'm not sure she is going to exit this world of suffering instantly to go to a better place. The scripture seems confusing on this subject at best. I Corinthians 15:51-52: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." The entirety of I Corinthians 15 leads me to believe that after we die on this earth, nothing happens till the resurrection, till the trumpet sounds. Yet Jesus tells one of the men hanging on the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Matt 23:43).
Quite honestly I don't have the answer to these questions. Nor do I feel like I've ever been given solid answer or direction to these questions. I am hoping to evolve from a cookie cutter theology that makes quick and easy answers like, "It's God's will" or "It's ok, their in heaven now." God cannot be summed up in sound bites and I'm afraid that's what my theology feels like it has become.
Once again, I do not judge or criticize those who say such things. I am guilty of saying and believing the same myself. It's hard to know what to say in such a situation. I do feel though that in times of great need of God's help and comfort we would be far better served if we had really worked these issues out. Maybe we have and I just missed it somewhere along the lines...or perhaps I should have worked them out myself by now. At any rate, that is what I'm attempting to do now.