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Subject:Loosing faith

I used to be a woman of faith.  But, now,  most of the time, I feel like a child looking for the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

My beautiful and wonderful 28 year old daughter has small cell cervical cancer.  We have been fighting this for over 2 years. It's now chemo resistant and has spread to pelvic lymph nodes.  She and I know what that means.

I have tried not to ask too much of God during my life.  I have always felt blessed and figured he had people with very real problems that he needed to tend to.  All I ever wanted was the health and happiness of my children, which I have prayed for nightly since the day they were born.  Like all other people, I am not without sin, but as I look back on my life, I can't see anything that deserves this kind of punishment.

All I can say now is "if He loved me, He wouldn't take me thru this hell."   Even if He didn't love me, I can't see anyone, including God, that would watch while people went thru this kind of torment.

So, mostly, I can't believe in the type of God I was taught to believe in.  You know... the one that answers prayers......but sometimes, I still pray because it is all I have left to do and then I feel like a child hoping the Easter Bunny will bring her all types of goodies.

It's really kind of sick.

PJ Wright


Posted: 21 Aug 2007 09:32 AM
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Subject:Loosing faith

To piggyback off this comment, I also would like the chaplain to address why "bad things happen to good people." Thanks.

Posted: 21 Aug 2007 11:55 AM
Originally Posted: 21 Aug 2007 11:09 AM
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Total Messages 36

Subject:Loosing faith

Here is my response.  I believe I have addressed the second question in this post as well.

Your words have touched me deeply. Let me assure you that you are not alone. I have been a chaplain at MDACC for eight years and I am convinced that heartfelt expressions of doubt and anger are sure signs of faith in God.

God tells us that he does not enjoy his childrens suffering. He has gone to great lengths to show us that there is more to life than the physical experience. However, we are made of flesh and blood and as such, we are subject to the physical limitations of this life. Our bodies will wear out and pass away if we live long enough. We do not want to think about death, and we should not live our lives anxiously awaiting our death. However, you do not have the luxury of denying reality. It is so close and so real as to be overwhelming. The pain that is, and is coming, is real and devastating. It cannot be avoided or shortened. It will come, because we cherish life and we cherish our children the most.

I do not believe that cancer is punishment from God. I believe that cancer is the result of being imperfect and frail flesh and blood. That does not diminish the insidiousness of the disease. With cancer, our very own bodies turn against us. It matters not how good or evil we are, what we have done or left undone. The end is the same for all. Christians believe that the end of this physical life is the beginning of our life with God, without the constraints of this body. That does not mean this life is meaningless. I believe that we come to know God in this life by using what God has given us the image of and desire for God that is in all of us.

The faith that we had as a child must mature as we do. We rely on "magical thinking" until reality intrudes as our world gets bigger. The Easter bunny no longer works. Our perception of a loving and gracious God that always answers prayers and will not let anything bad happen to us no longer holds true. God has not changed, but we have.

Who is this God that claims to love us and yet lets us suffer the consequences of our frailty and sin? Who is this God that we pray to? What should we pray for? What should we expect?

Job demanded to know why he was suffering. He accepted that God gives and God takes away, but he wanted to know why. The response he received was not an answer to why, but the very presence of God himself.

God does not expect us to have the faith of Job. The point of Jobs story is that when we demand that God be God, he will answer with his overwhelming presence. Not to take away the bad, but to give us the strength and courage to live through the terrible pain, to give us the power to make meaning of this life and to give us the grace to feel the presence of the divine, undiluted by our pain.

Pray as if God is listening. Pray for the complete healing of your daughter and pray for her to know that she is loved and cherished for who she is, not what she does or what happens to her body. Pray for her to receive what the world cannot give, peace - the peace of God that passes all understanding. If we pray for Gods presence, the answer is always Yes.


The Rev. Stephanie Linscott, M.Div., BCC
Staff Chaplain, Dept. of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas 713-563-3965

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Posted: 21 Aug 2007 12:23 PM
Originally Posted: 21 Aug 2007 12:20 PM
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Total Messages 2

Subject:Loosing faith

Thank you for your words of encouragement.  I would like to add the following:

I don't have the faith I had as a child anymore, yet sometimes I still pray like a child sucking his thumb for comfort.  But I know that it is no more than that.  And it does afford me temporary comfort.  Maybe it's just the cosmos that hears, but my thoughts and prayers seemed to be received by something.  As you are receiving them now.

I have come to believe that we have always been, we are and we will always be.  I don't know how, but it is a strong sense in me.  Whenever I try to remember my life without my children, it's like a dream.  It is as if, in reality,  they have always been with me.

Facing the reality of death has become easy for me and not very scary at all.  Facing separation from my child is heartbreaking.  Watching her sadness as she comes to grip with the reality of her mortality is more than my spirit can handle. And she has come to grips with it.  She is much stronger that I am.

Death, like most things in life, is natural.  Just like birth, but I bet the baby is terrified during the process.  Like most things however, it is nothing to fear and the child is wrapped in the loving arms of it's mother and all things are right in the universe again.  I tell myself this over and over.

I don't believe in the heaven of my childhood, but I do think awareness continues after death.  In what form, I have no idea.  But the bonds of  love between myself and my children will never cease, it will always be.

Somehow, we are all connected.  Every word we say, every action we take and every passion we feel has an effect on everything and it continues forever. 



Posted: 24 Aug 2007 02:10 PM
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