Once I was asked, “do you blame God for making you sick?” Another time I was asked I was asked if the Parkinson’s with dementia made me angry. My quick and easy (for me) response was “no, not at all.” I don’t blame God for making me sick, I don’t think he made me sick, and as a matter of fact I think he’s equally sad as I am that I’m sick.
Before I dig deeper here let me make sure you’re fully aware that in no way am I going to make an argument defending God, defending the idea that if God has the ability to heal me and does not he is somehow culpable and guilty of killing me, etc. Some of you are raising your hands, shaking your fists, and demanding that God be put on trial (rightfully so maybe). Others of you are standing up, shaking your fists, and are making a list of bullet points to absolutely prove why God is just in killing me ’cause he’s teaching me a lesson (or disciplining me or what have you). Well let me say that I’m not going to please any of you because first off I don’t want to attempt to articulately figure all this out. Secondly I don’t believe that it’s my job to defend God. He can do that himself if he so desires. Thirdly, I don’t know if I’m able to make an adequate argument. Nor will I fall into that silly query of, “why do bad things happen to good people?”
I don’t believe that God is responsible for my Parkinson’s and dementia. One of my most foundational beliefs, something that everything else builds off of is that God is good. The clearest picture I have of who God is, is in Jesus. My belief is that when I see Jesus I am seeing God. Therefore if I want to know how God feels about sickness I look at Jesus. If I want to know what God thinks about humanity I look at Jesus. If I want to know what God would do at a party I look at Jesus. If I want to know about God one of the most clear ways is to look at Jesus…’cause they’re kinda one and the same. When I look at Jesus I see a guy who grieved over the brokenness of the world, who wept over death (to the point that he occasionally reversed it), and who didn’t seem to be satisfied with sickness (and healed accordingly).
Parkinson’s and dementia are reminders that this world is utterly broken. Things have spiraled out of control and continue to do so. War, hatred, sickness, disease, addiction, abuse, lust, and greed (among so many other things) fight to control our world and transform it into what it was never intended to be. These things, as we experience them, remind us that things are not as they should be, things are not right! And in no way do I have space to believe that God is the culprit. Nope. Instead, my belief is that God is the source of all things good, of love, of hope, of peace, of beauty, of sex, of joy, of kindness, of generosity, of gentleness, and of fresh organic strawberries. Those things come from God because that is who God is–he is good. Parkinson’s with dementia is not one of those things. It does not come from God. Parkinson’s with dementia is in opposition to God–hell on earth, if you will. God hates Parkinson’s with dementia because it is in opposition to what he is all about: life.
So do I blame God for my Parkinson’s with dementia? Absolutely not.
The question, though, that we’re all obviously stuck asking is “But God, why don’t you heal me of it?” If he is able to heal me and does not isn’t he still equally culpable? Let me throw out some random thoughts here. This isn’t an attempt to defend things fully, but rather a random collection of my own musings about this question that obviously plagues me from time to time…
At some point every single person is going to not be healed. What I mean is that even if I get healed now, at some point I won’t be…’cause at some point I’m going to be deader than dead. Whether it’s now or later it’s gonna happen. Healing is the ultimate Band-Aid, it’s only temporary.
I feel complete freedom to be pissed at God, to tell him what I think. I’m pretty sure God can handle my anger. Just because I don’t blame doesn’t mean that I’m not mad that I haven’t been healed yet. There are certain things where anger is a completely appropriate response…and I think Parkinson’s with dementia can be one of them. And in no way whatsoever do I think that God gets mad if I express anger. Actually, as a matter of fact, I tend to think that God is pleased (maybe not the best word choice) when I am angry about things that he’s also probably angry about!
I try to realize and remember that I don’t know jack. I mean, seriously, what kind of perspective do I have in the big scheme of things? I think about my kids and every time they make bad decisions. I know better than them. I do. I’ve got more perspective, I’ve got a better memory, I have more information…I just know better. I’m the dad. Ok, maybe that’s not the best illustration, but the idea that God knows better is important to me because if he truly is good (as my foundational assumption tells me he is) then I can trust that he’s not trying to screw me or those I love over. All of his activity is first and foremost motivated by love. Always. (more than I can say for myself as a father or any other dads I know).
In his time on earth Jesus didn’t heal everybody. We read some of the spectacular stories of him healing somebody while ignoring the fact that he stepped over one cripple to get to another who then walked away on his own two feet. At times it had to do with the request made by the individual–but the reality is that there were many in Jerusalem and the surrounding area who remained sick, who stayed dead, and who Jesus did not heal. I don’t know why. But it’s true. And don’t tell me that it’s just a matter of faith. Don’t tell me that the only reason some were not healed was because they lacked faith–try reading the rest of the Bible and tell me that Stephen, James, and every single other apostle and leader and follower of Jesus lacked faith ’cause guess what? They all died! Some of them even brutally and tragically!
No, God never made a promise to heal me. I hope he does and I’m going to bug the hell out of him asking him to do so. But he didn’t make that promise. He promised me that I’ll always be loved. He promised me a new body that doesn’t suck. He promised me a restored world that isn’t broken. He promised me that I’m created in his perfect image. And he promised me that he’s faithful and will keep his promises. And he chose to let himself die to prove it.
Why do I not blame God? I guess it’s because over the years I’ve come to trust him. If you’re new to faith or the idea of faith I wouldn’t expect you to trust him like that necessarily. Trust is earned right? But I hope that my story, as your seeing it lived out, is inviting you to give him a chance. Let Jesus grow on you a bit and see if he doesn’t earn your trust eventually. It’s a scary thing to open yourself up like that, but it just might be worth it.