My mom passed away on July 12, 2018 after 14 years of battling cancer three separate times. This last time took her life, and I have wrestled with the daunting question, why? Why did the God who is able to heal all diseases choose to let her disease kill her? Why did the God who is good allow the bad to win? Why did God not heal my mom?
Throughout the process of learning about her diagnosis this time, I was much more involved than I had been the previous two, simply because I was old enough and mature enough to fully understand what was happening and assume my responsibility for caring for her. I learned the severity of how and where the cancer had spread, and I heard the number of years they gave my mom to live. So I prayed, diligently, for her healing on this side of heaven. I prayed for new life, for God’s power to overflow in our family, for a miracle to be done. I prayed this until one day God told me to stop – he told me to stop praying for her healing and instead to pray for peace.
You see, it wasn’t a part of God’s plan that my mom be healed this time and live. I don’t know why, nor do I understand how something so ugly and painful and horrible can be part of a good God’s plan. However, I choose to trust that he knows what he’s doing. Coming to terms with the fact that healing wasn’t where God wanted my attention was hard.
I began wrestling with the very real truth that though God is able to do anything, it doesn’t always mean he will.
God was able to heal my mom. He was able to cause all cancer to leave her body and never return. But he didn’t. He wasn’t willing because it wasn’t a part of his will. As I read scripture, stay steadfast in prayer, and choose to trust God throughout this entire process – from my mom’s sickness to the grief I’m experiencing now that she’s gone – I have begun to understand why God didn’t heal my mom.
God is good.
“You are good, and what you do is good…” Psalm 119:68a
God is a good God. That is a foundational truth, and until you’ve solidified it in your heart, when tragedies and struggles and pain come your way, you will be shaken. However, if you know and believe in the unconditional love, grace, and goodness of God, nothing – not even death – will make you question.
My mom loved God. My family loves God. And the Bible tells us God works things together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). Therefore, my mom’s battle with cancer and her eventual death is – somehow – good. It doesn’t make sense to me; I have limited understanding due to my humanness. Though God may bring some clarity and understanding to the situation eventually, he also might leave it a mystery. Regardless, because I have rooted the truth of God’s goodness in my heart, I am able to look at this ugly situation and know my good God knows what he is doing, and what he is doing is good.
God has a purposeful plan.
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” Isaiah 46:10
God knows what is going to happen from the very beginning to the very end, and he has a purposeful plan for every day. He cannot be defeated, and his plan cannot be ruined.
Cancer would not have been able to take my mom if it was God’s will that she live.
Therefore, I know her passing away – regardless of how painful and sad and horrible it is for me right now – is a part of God’s plan. It does not make sense to me, but he is a good God with a purposeful plan. He knows what he is doing, and I truly believe my mother’s story and passing will not be wasted but will instead bring glory to God and bring his heavenly kingdom closer to earth.
We only see one side of the story.
“One day the angles came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’” Job 1:6-7
We live in a physical world that is very real to us. We feel pain, joy, sorrow. We experience friendship and heartbreak. We have to eat food, drink water, and sleep in order for our bodies to continue functioning well. We have eyes that see everything in our world around us and hands to touch what is real to us in front of our eyes. Yet, the physical is not the only thing by which we are surrounded.
There is a spiritual world – one that is very alive. Though we cannot see it, we do experience the effects of the battle between good and evil that is happening on a spiritual level. I believe a lot of our confusion and lack of understanding comes from the fact that we only see one side of the story, even when we are most likely experiencing the effects of both.
Just as Job in the Bible didn’t understand why his world was falling apart because he didn’t know the spiritual battle between good and evil happening on his behalf, I don’t know what was happening in the spiritual realm – what type of battle was being fought or conversations were being held as my mom was fighting cancer with all her strength. I do know that God is good and victorious and his plan will be accomplished regardless.
My mom is, in fact, healed.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
My mom is in heaven. I have no doubt about that whatsoever. I also have no doubt that she is now fully healed, living joyfully in abundance with Jesus. Her strength has been restored, her voice has been restored, her hair has probably even been restored. She is full of life. She is happy and at peace. She is with Jesus.
So, no, even though God was able to heal my mom on this side of heaven, he chose to take her home to be with him. And even though it doesn’t always make sense, I know God didn’t heal my mom because he is a good God with a good plan that reaches beyond our physical experiences and instead impacts the heavens.
I miss my mom immensely, but I am so glad she is finally at peace, and I cannot wait to see God’s glory revealed through her story.