Cancer and the Cross

My wife and I just told our 9-year-old daughter, Katherine, that all her hair is going to fall out. She has been growing it out since she was 3, and it has been a source of joy for her over the years. I held her hand and stroked her head as she cried and told her how sorry I was. Watching her weep, my wife and I then broke down in tears ourselves.

Topics: Suffering

My wife and I just told our 9-year-old daughter, Katherine, that all her hair is going to fall out. She has been growing it out since she was 3, and it has been a source of joy for her over the years. I held her hand and stroked her head as she cried and told her how sorry I was. Watching her weep, my wife and I then broke down in tears ourselves.

As I knelt beside my daughter’s hospital bed, I dropped my head into her lap, and my heart broke. The tears flowed quickly as I thought of how badly I wanted to make this situation go away. After a few moments, I felt her small hand rest on the back of my head.

“It’s okay Daddy. We can trust God with this.”

“I know baby girl, I just hate this and I wish I could take it away from you.”

“It’s for God’s glory, Daddy.”

My daughter preached the gospel to me, and I needed to hear it. My sinful heart is prone to wander, and the Lord graciously used my daughter to remind me that He is sovereign and trustworthy. What a sweet gift.

In contemplating the events and circumstances of the last week, my mind continually returns to the same thing: sin. Death exists because of it. Wars and crime persist because of it. Marriages break because of it. My daughter has a cancer because of it.

I am not saying that Katherine’s cancer is God’s punitive response to her sin. She is indeed a sinner, but she hasn’t been given a tumor for her sins. Her cancer is a result of the fall – Adam’s sin in the Garden broke the world and fractured every aspect of it.

Adam and Eve were created in perfection and deemed by God to be very good. They were created to glorify God by enjoying Him forever, and they rebelled against that purpose, trying to put themselves in God’s place. This sin passed on to all humanity, excluding Christ, and spreads from one generation to the next.

My daughter’s cancer is a clear picture of this perversion and brokenness. God created a cell in the muscle tissue of Katherine’s eye to help it move, but the tissue rebelled and struck out on its own, forsaking the purpose for which it was created. It passed on its rebellion to subsequent generations of muscle cells, growing into a tumor that has now pushed its way into the place that is supposed to be occupied by the very thing it was created to serve.

The good news is that these problems have a solution. While we are separated from God because of Adam’s sin, Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father through His life, death and resurrection. He alone defeated sin and death and promised to bring restoration to all the brokenness of this world, including cancer, when He returns.

My daughter’s hope is built on this good news. The Spirit of God has revealed Himself to her, and because she believes on Jesus and calls him Lord and Savior, Katherine can rest in the reality that she has not been given a tumor for her sins – Jesus truly paid it all. Her hair will fall out, and her body will be weary, but her cancer will never overshadow the beauty, wonder and power of the cross.