When I was trying to think of clever names to title my daily summertime posts, my original thought for Thursday was "Theology Thursday." But I quickly discarded that idea...I would never want to mislead anyone into thinking that I know anything whatsoever about theology. Because I don't.
I do read a lot of thought-provoking material, though, particularly about the topics of grief, earthly suffering, Heaven, and healing. Therefore, the title "Thoughtful Thursday." Anything I share under this title will be just that -- my thoughts. In general, my thoughts will be based on something I've read by a trusted Christian author, but they are just a fellow sinner's opinion -- no more, no less. Please don't take anything I say as the authoritative truth, because that could only come from God's Word. Always use the Bible as your ultimate source of truth.
That being said, here we go with our first "Thoughtful Thursday" of the summer....
I love the author Randy Alcorn. I first discovered him as a fiction writer, when I read "Deadline", followed by "Dominion", and then "Deception." Then I read "Safely Home", which still ranks up there as one of my favorite Christian fiction books ever. It wasn't until my teenaged daughter entered hospice care that I picked up one of his non-fiction works, "Heaven" and began reading it hungrily, eager to find out what my daughter's next home would be like. What a wonderful, deeply-researched book that is! (It is almost too deep at times...I actually recommend "50 Days of Heaven", also by Randy Alcorn, which is basically the same book, just broken up into smaller, easier to digest pieces.) And over the past many months, bit by bit, I've been reading "If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil." It is also an excellent book, but needs to be read a little at a time, simply because it is so deep.
This week, I've been reading Chapter 36, titled "How the Health and Wealth Gospel Perverts Our View of Evil and Suffering." Alcorn doesn't pull any punches in this chapter. As you can see from the title, he does not have a very high view of purveyors of the "health and wealth" or "name it and claim it" type of theology.
Because of my experience with having a daughter who was diagnosed with what is basically a terminal cancer, I've been particularly interested in a Biblical view regarding healing. There are those who believe we can declare our way out of illness. A well-known prosperity theology preacher wrote this, "Maybe Alzheimer's disease runs in your family genes, but don't succumb to it. Instead, say every day, 'My mind is alert. I have clarity of thought. I have a good memory. Every cell in my body is increasing and getting healthier.' If you'll rise up in your authority, you can be the one to put a stop to the negative things in your family line...Start boldly declaring, 'God is restoring health unto me. I am getting better every day in every way.'"
So, basically, if Hannah had just said something like this to herself every day, she would have been miraculously healed of brain cancer? I don't buy that.
Of course, Hannah prayed for her own healing. We did too, and we were joined by literally thousands of other people who were all praying for the same thing. But there came a point where we had to accept that earthly healing may not be God's best plan for her.
Randy Alcorn says it best. Let me quote from page 384 of his book "If God is Good" when he talks about his diagnosis with insulin-dependent diabetes.
"Upon learning of my disease, well-meaning people sometimes ask whether I have trusted God to heal me. I respond that when it first appeared in 1985, I and others did ask God to heal me. After a while, when God chose not to answer our prayers that way, I stopped asking. When I say this, I sometimes get looks of alarm and quotes about persevering in prayer and having faith as a mustard seed. I point out that Paul asked God to remove his disease three times, not a thousand times or a hundred or even a dozen. Just three times he asked -- but God made it clear that the affliction had come from His gracious hand. Paul had no desire to ask God to remove that which his Lord wanted to use to create in him greater Christlikeness and dependence upon God."
I don't know about you, but this paragraph made me very thoughtful. As a matter of fact, I'm still thinking about it, and probably will be until my next Thoughtful Thursday post.
Actually, this song might say it best...