Here is a post I once wrote on my ‘cancer blog’ (when I had cancer a couple of years ago); I was reflecting upon why some people die from cancer and others don’t, and how this relates to God’s plan for us in Christ. Here is what I wrote (originally written June 20th, 2010 here):
Something that has plagued me at points through this season is the question of “why” some folks die from cancer and some folks don’t. At moments the “enemy” has said ‘look they’re a good Christian, and yet they have died from their cancer; so will you’. The reality is, is that death has indeed been conquered by our Lord; so in moments like those, at the depth, I can say so what . . . but that’s usually not my response, truth be told — I want to continue to live!!!
But it does cause you to wonder “why;” why do some die and some don’t? The Lord has pointed me to a particular passage of scripture to help with this real life issue:
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
This passage of scripture doesn’t necessarily answer the question “why” in detail; but it does say something to what can look very random (i.e. the fact that some die from cancer and some don’t). And that is that the Lord has a different plan for each one of us; He has tailored exactly how it is that He wants us to live out our lives in service to Him. For some that means He’s going to call us home (sooner) and for others of us later. This is what the Lord has constantly been impressing upon me through this season; that He’s in total control, and that just because “this” person or “that” person is taken through cancer, does not mean that I am necessarily going to go home through this cancer. In fact this cancer might just be a catalyst for something else the Lord has in mind for me and my family while on this earth.
Now I’ve applied what Jesus said to Peter in this context to my situation; but this is just as easily applied to any and all of our situations and life circumstances. The reality is, is that there is nothing normative about any circumstances we face in life; in other words there is a special plan laid out for each one of us, and our particular life stories and circumstances all differ one from the other — according to the plans and purposes of the Lord for us. I think sometimes we all fall prey to wondering why that person or this person seems to “make it;” and others don’t. The bottom line is that the Lord is in control of each of our lives in very personal and intimate ways.