Why does God allow cancer? Does God give people cancer? Could God cure cancer but just doesn’t?
These are questions people ask, not just about cancer, but about all diseases.
Much of Christianity has ridiculous answers to those questions. “God has a purpose,” “God uses the suffering for a greater good,” “God is trying to teach you something through your cancer,” “We must walk through the trials God sends as well as the good times.” Those are just some of the responses Christians give.
Or, they might give other responses that are even worse. “Cancer is the result of the curse God put on the earth as a result of sin.” “All sickness is the result of sin.” “We cannot insist that God answer our prayers like we want Him to.”
A perusal of Christian websites will reveal many responses like that.
These reflect two different beliefs. Some Christians believe God actively sends cancer on people. Others don’t believe God actively causes cancer; He just sometimes allows it to happen.
Those beliefs are the result of a belief which is apparently almost universal among Christians: God is in control of everything, including cancer, so if you get cancer, God either caused you to get it or allowed you to get it. Either way, it’s God’s will that you have cancer, because since God controls everything, if He didn’t want you to have cancer, you wouldn’t have it.
But does God really either cause or allow cancer?
As Christians, we always start with Jesus first, so let’s look at Jesus in the Gospels. Healing sickness is one of the main things Jesus did. Healing is what gave Jesus such a reputation that He drew huge crowds of people wherever He went.
Jesus never said God causes sickness. Jesus never told a person God had a plan for their sickness. Jesus never told anyone God was trying to teach them a lesson through their sickness. Jesus never indicated God allows sickness.
Jesus treated sickness as an enemy, and He always cast it out. Jesus never used sickness, never brought on sickness, never allowed sickness. Whenever He saw it, He cast it out.
Jesus never attributed sickness to God. In Luke chapter 13 is the account of a woman who is all bent over and can’t straighten up. She comes to Jesus, and He heals her. Jesus says that she was bound by Satan. He attributed her sickness to Satan. Satan is the one Jesus said caused it.
Jesus never attributed sickness to God. Jesus never even said God allows it. Where Jesus attributed it, He attributed it to Satan. We never see Jesus saying God has a purpose in sickness. We never see Jesus saying God uses sickness. Jesus always saw sickness as coming from evil, from Satan.
But, people point to other things the Bible says and tell us those things mean God causes sickness. But remember, every Christian belief is an interpretation of something the Bible says. Whenever we interpret, we have to always interpret in light of Jesus, in light of the Gospels. The guide to the interpretation of the rest of the Bible is Jesus. We always start with Jesus, and always make what Jesus said primary.
Christians who believe God either causes or allows sickness don’t do that. They start with other things in the Bible, see those as primary, and then attempt to make what Jesus said fit in with them.
But that’s not the primary reason so many Christians believe God either causes or allows sickness. The primary reason is the belief that if God didn’t either cause or allows sickness, He wouldn’t really be God.
People have a picture in their minds of what God must be like. They have pre-existing beliefs about the definition of what God is. They didn’t get them from the Bible. They got them from what they have been told must be true about God.
They have been taught that the very definition of God is that God is the One who controls everything. God is in complete control, pulling the strings on everything. That’s how God is popularly defined—the One up in heaven who pulls all the strings. And then, with that idea of God in their minds, they interpret the Bible to make it agree with the definition of God they already have. They comb through the Bible looking for passages to pull out and “prove” their idea of God is correct. The passages that don’t agree are either ignored, glossed over, or explained away.
After they’ve done that, they have the “biblical” belief that God is in complete control of everything and either causes or allows cancer.
But that sort of logic leads to some really preposterous things. That same logic leads to the belief that when a 3-year old child is beaten to death, it was God’s will. That same logic leads to the belief that when a man walks into a school and shoots and kills people, it was God’s will. After all, if God controls everything, then God controlled that, too.
If that’s the case, then people who beat children to death or do mass shootings shouldn’t be arrested, they should be praised for doing God’s will.
But that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Yes it is, but it’s based on the same logic that says God either causes or allows cancer.
God gave us minds to reason. God gave us the ability to think, and we should think about these beliefs instead of just blindly believing what someone says.
If we start with Jesus and go from there, here’s what we find: God does not cause cancer. God does not allow cancer. God does not use cancer for His purposes. Cancer is not, in any way, part of God’s will for our lives. God is at all times opposed to cancer, opposed to any kind of sickness. God doesn’t cause sickness or use sickness; God fights against it.
It goes back to the most basic Christian beliefs. God’s will for us is life. God does not will for any of us to die. God does not will sickness on us. And, God does not allow any of us to die. God does not allow sickness on any of us.
Death is referred to in the Bible as “the enemy.” In fact, the Bible says death is the last enemy to be defeated. The Bible sees death, and the things that lead to death, like sickness, as an enemy God fights against. First Corinthians 15 says, talking about Jesus, “For He must reign till He has put all things under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
We live in the time when Jesus is still fighting to put all things under His feet. That has not yet happened. Jesus is still in the process of accomplishing it.
God does not cause or allow sickness. God does not use sickness. God actively fights against it.
When anyone gets cancer or any other disease, God immediately starts fighting against it. Sometimes God’s power is able to win, but sometimes the evil power is stronger and gets the upper hand.
But no matter, in every case, God is fighting as hard as He can against it. God may not be able to defeat all sickness now, but one day, God will be able to defeat it all. We live in the time before that has happened, but we are assured that it will happen.
When that day comes, God will give us a new life, a life in which sickness and disease will have no part.