How Could a Loving God Allow Dad to Get Cancer?
October 2013 my Dad was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Cancer—it’s an ugly word. When someone else’s father is diagnosed, it’s easy to pull out all the Christian platitudes. “God works all things for good to those who believe.” “God’s ways are higher than our ways.” “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” Christians have many platitudes, but when it’s your father, and when the ugly word “cancer” has been uttered, all those platitudes are chaff in the ear. The real question is, “How could a loving God allow CANCER?” That is the question that plagues all believers. Sometimes the word isn’t cancer. The word may be Auschwitz, poverty, Vietnam, disease, warfare, Satan, famine, Mussolini, or any number of words that represent what the individual feels is the greatest evil. I possess neither the wisdom nor the perspective to tackle all those words. But, maybe I can tackle my word, and you can tackle your word. The utterance of cancer was not the end of the story. No, it was only the beginning of a horrific battle. Dad faced surgery, radiation, weakness, fatigue, and constant pain. There was no miraculous healing. Dad passed away on June 13th, 2015. An atheist would say that Dad is now food for worms. I don’t believe that. I believe Dad is with the Lord. But, do I have any evidence for that? Nope! I don’t have a shred of evidence beyond my gut feeling. As much as my gut says that’s all I need, it’s honestly not enough. My brain demands a more complete explanation for the question, “How could a loving God allow cancer?” Without knowing my Dad, you may wonder, “Did he deserve it?” Perhaps Dad was a brutal alcoholic that beat his wife and kids? Or, maybe he ran a pharmaceutical company that denied treatment to the needy just to benefit the greedy? Or, maybe he was a killer or a rapist? But, none of that was true of my Dad. Dad was a gentle man. He loved his wife and his children. He was a hard worker. He brought joy to those around him. Certainly Dad had his shortcomings. He wasn’t a perfect cherub in a glowing white robe. But, cancer? Dad did nothing in his life that came close to demanding such a sentence. With two arguments down, we still don’t have an answer for, “How could a loving God allow cancer?” It does seem a loving God could allow cancer if something good resulted from that cancer. Actually, no matter what word you fill in for cancer, that does seem a possible explanation. Consider, that God sacrificed his own son for the sake of the greater good. It does seem possible he would sacrifice another of his children, in this case my father, for the greater good. Of course, that idea is both comforting and frightening at the same time. It’s comforting to think that God allowed cancer to happen to Dad in order to bring about a greater good. It’s a little frightening to think I could end up on that altar. I can’t honestly answer why God allowed cancer to happen. I don’t have God’s perspective. But, I can look and see if there’s any evidence that God used it for good. That evidence does exist in abundance, and I’m going to look at that evidence. I also realize that had Dad never faced his battle with cancer, I would have never written this book. So, I’m going to share parts of his life—evidence that God used my Dad for good. I can see that God had a purpose for my Dad’s life. And, seeing that purpose helps to answer one of the other biggest questions that believers face.
Suffering, cancer, religious aspects
Tipton, Brett A., "How Could a Loving God Allow Dad to Get Cancer?" (2016). Alumni Book Gallery. 458.