Fate I guess

September 26, 2007

I’ve been pondering something in the back recesses of my mind these past few days, kind of turning it over and over — yet I’m not coming any closer to a definitive understanding.

It’s this issue of fate. Biblically speaking, I can say that: God allows situations to happen for the purpose of drawing us near to Him, that He works all things together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes, that He clearly hates injustice and suffering in the world…and no matter where one stands on the issue of predestination (and no, I’m SO not going there), it’s clear that God foreknows everything that happens to everyone.

So. Clearly, God foreknew that certain members of my high school class would die young. One woman — a girl with whom I had been in Brownies — died at the age of 32 from breast cancer when we both had 3 year old daughters. I think of her sometimes, see her in my mind walking into 8th grade history class (who knows why certain images are burned in our memories), her brown hair bouncing in curls around her head. We were never especially close, much to the chagrin of our mothers, but I never had any feelings of hostility toward her. She just never registered particularly, as I’m sure I probably didn’t register for her. I remember my mom telling me about “Susie’s” first round of breast cancer when they thought she could beat it, and I remember when I found out that the cancer had returned and had moved to her brain.

The thing is, God knew all about that long before it happened. Strange to think that at the moment she bounded into 8th grade history class, her remaining days were only numbered out until she turned 32. Who of us at 13 says, “Well, I figure I’ll die at 32 and never get to see my daughter grow up.”? And yet, looking back on that moment, I can’t help but feel the crushing inevitability of her death.

And yes, yes, of course we’re all going to die. Each year, we pass the anniversary of our death and all that jazz.

But we all expect to die at an old age, a far away age.

I just received an e-mail from a classmate about another classmate’s relapse of brain cancer. Jesus, brain cancer. This guy and I used to argue in Psychology class. And he’s got brain cancer for a second time? And a wife and two young sons? Again, I hardly think that back in high school he ever thought to himself, “Yeah, I think I’ll go for some relapsed brain cancer around the age of 40.”

It’s just — looking back on life — is there nothing either of these people could have done to prevent their illnesses? Really, probably no. Neither situation is like lung cancer where behavior can play a part in its occurrence (btw — almost 4 weeks of no smoking for me!). There’s just something so…awful…thinking of each of these people as a teenager, believing that life was spread out before her/him with so many options open, when in truth, life wasn’t going to be like that at all.

There’s no sound theology here, unless “Sometimes life totally sucks,” is some kind of doctrine. God knew in both cases and He didn’t prevent. And we don’t know why. We don’t know what glory He can wring from disease and death. We don’t know. And I hate not knowing. I cling to the fact that He is good. Even in my not knowing and wishing I understood, I cling to that fact.

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4 Responses to “Fate I guess”

  1. Hey girl–I’m tagging you. I know–it’s so dumb. But it’s part of being a blogger so we must comply.

    Go to my blog http://www.blurbsfromtheburbs.blogspot.com and look up Tag You’re It

    Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves on their blog. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

  2. kate whitman said

    Life is so hard and the mystery can be oppressive. It is a choice to believe God is good when there is no evidence. All of us are faced with that choice at least once in our life. Fool that I am, I believe in the resurrection. I also think that C.S. Lewis’ wife, Joy, had it right when she said that “these are the shadowlands …real life has yet to begun”. Does that make these situations any less painful? No. But at least that truth casts the situations within a larger sphere of truth.
    Kate

  3. Amanda said

    Just a note of congrats on not smoking for over a month. I hear the knitting is going well 🙂 yay for you!!!!

  4. Liz said

    Hello….just wanted to say hi and see if you and the family are alright…I have missed reading your blog….not trying to hassle you at all just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and yours.

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