Summary: This is a sermon that dealt with a question about the death of an 18 yr old girl who passed away after battling cancer for 2 years. A member asked if I would address this topic.
1) Explain the difficulty of this series and the struggle I had w/ this sermon.
2) Tell the story of Tonya Nowell
3) Debbie asked this difficult question, “Was it God’s will that this girl got cancer and died?
4) This leads to even more questions. Could God have stopped it?
A) In his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner questions whether God is all-powerful and able to stop evil from happening maybe God is like the father watching his children play on the front lawn he sees a car coming and wants to save his children from harm, but is powerless and can only watch helplessly as his child narrowly escapes being run over. Is God like that? he means well but is not always able to help? Is that the kind of God we worship? Doesn’t sound like the kind of God I serve. We believe God to be omnipotent, that nothing is to difficult for Thee.
5) So If God had the power to stop this tragedy from happening, then why didn’t He? And that’s the difficult question we are faced with.
I. It’s Okay to ask Genuine sincere Questions.
A) Some well-meaning people say, "You should never question God. He is sovereign. His plan is perfect. If you have faith, you won’t question him. You may not see it now, but you need to believe that God is using your suffering to produce something beautiful." Perhaps they remind you that God’s great plan is like embroidery. When someone embroiders a design into a piece of cloth, the back side of the cloth is all twisted and tangled with knots of thread, but if you look at the other side, the picture is lovely. In the same way, when we look at God’s plan from our perspective right now, it may look tangled and not very attractive, but when we see it someday from a new perspective, we’ll see how orderly and beautiful it really is.
B) Now, there’s a lot of truth in that. God does indeed have a plan, and he does have the power to make something beautiful even out of the greatest evil. But does that mean we always have to stifle our screams and sing a hymn when we’re suffering? Does it mean we must never ask why?
Maybe your problem isn’t with how the picture will look someday but with how you feel right now. No matter how wonderfully the picture will eventually turn out, you may feel that every time God adds another stitch to his embroidery, he is jabbing you with the needle, and it hurts. Other people may tell you to admire the embroidery and not to scream or ask questions, but they’re not the ones being jabbed. It’s one thing to be a spectator; it’s another to be a sufferer.
C) Christians believe in the sovereignty of God. Jesus taught that not even the smallest detail escapes God’s attention or falls outside his plan. He said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered"
D) But what if it’s not just a sparrow that falls? What if it’s a person you love dearly? And what are you supposed to say when the God who numbers the very hairs of your head allows every last hair to fall out during chemotherapy--and even then allows the cancer to continue its deadly work?
We wouldn’t expect things to be any different if God weren’t in charge, but he is. Believing that God is in control doesn’t take away the pain or make the questions disappear. In some ways it makes the questions even harder. Why does a loving and powerful God allow all this to happen? Christians believe in the sovereignty of God, all right. That’s exactly why they scream "Why?" when things just don’t seem to make any sense.
E) Explain the honesty of the Psalms. David pours his heart out to God.
II. And we have an honest sincere question, and it’s a difficult one, “Did God want this girl to get cancer, and was it His will that she suffer? Is God to blame?
A) To start, let’s look at the source of suffering. If like we said, that God is omnipotent and all things are possible through Him, Why didn’t He create a world without sin and suffering?
B) The answer is, He did! According to the creation account found in Genesis, when God created the world it was good. There was no cancer, there was no disease, there was no sin.
C) You see Evil and suffering’s source is not found in God’s power, no they are found in man’s freedom. So why then didn’t God create a world with no human freedom? Because that would have been a world without humans.