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God's Not Mad at You
“Christians and incurable cancer…what’s with that?”

“Christians and incurable cancer…what’s with that?”

AUGUST 27, 2021

/ Programs / Key Life / “Christians and incurable cancer…what’s with that?”

Steve Brown:
Christians and incurable cancer…what’s with that? We’ll answer that on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
Key Life exists to communicate that the deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers. Life’s hard for everyone, so grace is for all of us, but there is a lot of confusion about how grace applies to real life. So, here’s seminary professor and author, Steve Brown and Pete Alwinson to answer your questions.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Hi, Pete. How you doing?

Pete Alwinson:
I’m doing good. How are you? Happy Friday.

Steve Brown:
Happy Friday to you too. Do you have to preach Sunday?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah, I do.

Steve Brown:
I know, I think you’re preaching at our church.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. You preached last week.

Steve Brown:
That’s right. And I expect you to straighten out the heresy and fix the things that I broke.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s impossible. Impossible.

Steve Brown:
I didn’t make a fool of myself, but I could see it from where I was,

Pete Alwinson:
No, no, no, no.

Steve Brown:
but I kept saying inside, Pete’s going to be here next week.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
He’ll fix it.

Pete Alwinson:
Oh man.

Steve Brown:
That’s Pete Alwinson. And by the way, when is your book out yet? The audio version.

Pete Alwinson:
We’re going to finish the punch list hopefully today on it. So, there it is.

Steve Brown:
Like Father, Like Son, you can get the hard, copy the E copy, or you can very soon get the audio copy. Go to ForgeTruth.com and you can find out and keep checking with keylife.org. And we’ll let you know when it comes out too. Pete comes in on Fridays and we answer questions together and we love to get your questions. You can call 1-800-KEY-LIFE, 24 7, whenever the spirit moves, record your question and we’ll sometimes put your voice on the air, or you can send your question to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794

In Canada, it’s

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

Or you can e-mail your question to Steve@keylife.org. And if you can help us financially, please do. We would appreciate that. And we’ll be faithful with your gift. We’re a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada, Canada. It’s the microphone. And both of those organizations ensure ethical monetary practices, but they don’t have to do that, we were that before they came along. But our books are always open and we encourage you to help us if you can. And if you can’t, we understand, do say a prayer for this ministry. Pete, why don’t you lead us in prayer, and then we’ll get to these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
You got it. Our Father, thank you that we can come to you today at the end of this week and call you Father, our Abba, because of Jesus. And we do come boldly into your presence, we come humbly though. And, we come respectfully for you are the great God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit who is triune and who is worthy of all of our praise and glory and honor. We lift you up for being the God who is sovereign and kind and all powerful and loving, merciful to us. And, one who develops us. Thank you for accepting us as we are, but loving us way too much to leave us that way. And so, thank you God, for your glory in our lives. We look forward to worshiping you this week-end and ask that you would be in these few hours before churches open up this week-end, that Lord you’d be with our leaders, our worship directors, our pastors and teachers, fine tune their hearts and their messages. And that would you make us open to your word, as it is preached to us this week-end. So, be with your leaders and thank you for this time to be a part of dealing with your truth, where we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Pete, this first question is an e-mail. How do you rationalize or even try to understand the pain of someone who loves the Lord suffering from incurable cancer? Do miracles still happen? And if they do, who gets them?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Wow. You know, I mean, we both, we’ve both been pastors and in a very real sense, we’re still pastoring. A broader, different kind of congregation, but, and we run into cancer all the time. And I think, both of us hate it. And, we can’t rationalize it a way, the pain is real, the suffering is real. And, but Christians, and I love the way you have placed it. I’m going to get you to say your line, but Christians suffer the same things that unbelievers suffer.

Steve Brown:
So the world can see the difference.

Pete Alwinson:
So the world can see that difference. And, you know, for me in talking to people when they’re suffering, that’s not the time to try and go into a theodicy and discuss the problem of pain, it’s a time to love them and tell them that you love them. And, but oftentimes people say, why hasn’t gotten done anything. Why doesn’t God do anything about this? And the answer is, he has, in Jesus. And, he has made it different. The outcome for the believer is way different than the outcome for the other.

Steve Brown:
It really is. And you know, Pete I’ve just finished a manuscript and sent it to the publisher. It will be a long time before it’s out, but the title was Laughter and Lament: The Touchstones of Radical Freedom. And so, that lament part, I’ve spent, and frankly a lot more than I have in the past, really going through the Scripture. And looking at those places where the kind of thing, the person who asked this question is asking. Over and over again, you see it time after time, you read the book of Lamentations and you just think, good heavens, that’s awful. And then, the one who founded who we are, died on a cross.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
And so, lament, and you’ve got Psalms of lament. You’ve got sadness and tears. And the incredible thing, is in the middle of that. And maybe even the person who asked that question, you know, somebody who loves the Lord and who’s dying of incurable cancer. I bet if you visit them. There’ll be times of laughter and joy, because that’s what Christ does for his people. It’s not power without pressure. It’s power under pressure.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Right. Oh, and we have to, that’s so good. I can’t wait for that to come out, because it’s always practical, always relevant, in the chaotic world in which we live, where there is so much suffering, all around us.

Steve Brown:
So true, you know, we recently had the wife of a board member at Key Life die, and it was really sad. And when she first found out that she had incurable cancer, I called her up, thinking, you know, I need to pray with her and I’m going to try to be a pastor. And to my surprise, she said to me, Steve, I hate this. And she said, but I’m okay with it. And then she said to me, if I could get out of it, I would, but I can’t, and it’s not as if I was never going to die. I just know when, and you don’t know when you’re going to die. And then after that, we started laughing and we spent more time laughing than we did crying. And that doesn’t mean that cancer isn’t bad, it is.

Pete Alwinson:
It is, sure.

Steve Brown:
You said that, and I agree with you. You know, I have a missionary friend who was in Korea and wrote a book called Does My Father Know I’m Hurt? And in that book, he equated cancer was Satan and it was a good metaphor, it really worked. So, we’re not trying to put a nice walk through the Jesus garden and smell the flowers, kind of spin on this. We live in an evil world and it’s hard. And, we suffer and we die and we lose, but Jesus is sitting on his throne. And as you said, the end is going to be a lot better than the reality of the middle of it.

Pete Alwinson:
It is, it really is. And we need, we need to look at the theology of death in the New Testament. So that really, it’s life.

Steve Brown:
Yeah. Okay. Well, we could talk about that for a long time. I have a question about forgiveness of sin, I know God says that when we ask for forgiveness, it’s granted and he never brings it to our attention again, but when we die, our lives and all shortcomings are exposed, flashed before our eyes. How can that be true? You know, I get that. I bet you’ve gotten that question a hundred times from people.

Pete Alwinson:
Oh yeah. And that’s from a movie, you know, that’s really from, you know, The Late Great Planet Earth or something like that, old movie, where it’s all good. You know, where in Scripture, is that? Where is the theological teaching on that?

Steve Brown:
It’s not there, but let me tell you something, if it were there and if that movie was right, there’s a lot of difference between being convicted of sin in this life and being reminded in that life of what you’ve been forgiven.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
I mean, one is a joyous time. You forgave me of that, that is so cool, I can hardly stand it. But in this life, sin is what is destructive. And so, and people are always worried, is everybody gonna know my sin. And I say, no, they’re going to be too busy trying to hide their’s. But when you, heaven’s going to be a place where you go, but of course.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Right. It wouldn’t matter. As soon as we see Jesus, as soon as we see God, face-to-face, none of our questions are going to fade away. We’re going to know that he’s righteous and everything that he permitted and caused and every, and that our forgiveness. So, we’re just going to be glad we’re there.

Steve Brown:
Oh, we are and our sin there, will be the crown of glory, because that’s what he did on the cross.

Pete Alwinson:
He paid for it all.

Steve Brown:
Oh man. And, and you know, I’m going to have a lot of praise in heaven. And I don’t care by the time I get there, if everybody knows all the bad stuff I did. I mean, I really don’t, because then it’s just all the bad stuff God’s forgiven, not all the bad stuff you did.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. And glory is going to read down to him. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
It really is. Will our pets will be with us in heaven?

Pete Alwinson:
Speaking about glory, will they be there? I don’t know, you know, your German shepherds might be there, were they Christians? Can a German shepherd be a Christian?

Steve Brown:
All except for one, he was too dumb to hear the Gospel. And were kidding. And we, we don’t know. I, the classic answer by most pastors to children who ask that. If heaven, won’t be heaven to you, unless your puppy is there, the puppy will be there. And that’s a good pastoral answer. And probably some truth to it. Scripture doesn’t speak, and we’re going to get letters and people are going to say, yes it does. The lion and the lamb and some passages in Revelation, but those are not authoritative in that particular question. So, who knows?

Pete Alwinson:
We know the new heavens and the new earth is going to be there, it’s going to be a wonderful place that animals could be there, but that many? I don’t know.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, man. I love my shepherds, but I don’t want all of them to be in my house in heaven. I mean, that’s too many.

Pete Alwinson:
20 German shepherds in your house. I know. Come on.

Steve Brown:
But listen, God is good and he’s good all the time. And he likes your pets too. Hey guys, it’s time for us to go, but first let me say, Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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