Big Hair Theology
My upbringing was the perfect storm of 80’s media and a father who put no filter on what I ingested through the television screen. My values are subsequently a little off the shoulder with a hint of blue eyeshadow.
On Mortality: Those perfect looking moms at the bus stop are really just preserved in giant Tupperware containers while they sleep.
On Death: To escape your projected doomsday, simply allow the father-in-law you didn’t really like to take your place by contracting some hideous form of Ebola.
It is this last principle that has troubled me most lately. This idea that death is somehow an appetite to be satisfied. That death sits in a delicate balance, an equilibrium met life for life.
For a year and a half now, I have sat helplessly watching a dear friend battle an aggressive form of colon cancer. With every devastating set of side-effects, another treatment is exhausted — while the cancer continues to invade with no regard for the drugs. Prayers go up daily from all corners of the earth; faithful believers pray their guts out, scream at God, plead for mercy. Yet God remains silent, refusing to utter the single word that could end it all.
Each day I face a slurry of impossible questions: Why her? Why not the drug dealers and child molesters? Why now? Why not when her kids were older, grown? What possible good can God accomplish through this that could not come any other way?
I find myself relying on episodes of the Twighlight Zone to answer that which lingers. I read the obituaries and wonder: is it enough that those people passed, is death now satisfied, can my friend now live? I wish for a way to offer my life, aware of my own squandering and knowing she would value it more than I do. I try to balance suffering with death attempting to determine what amount is equal to enough. At best my wanderings are rudimentary, if not strangely hopeful. Still they do nothing to answer the questions, because they do nothing to understand death.
In the garden of Eden, when sin entered the world, God blocked the way to the tree of life. He said, “lest man eat of it and live for ever.” It was more than just a consequences, more than a punishment, it was perhaps the greatest act of mercy ever attributed to a divine being.
God saw what was coming: the murder and hate, the decay and sickness, the chaos and disorder associated with sin. How cruel God would have to be to allow His creation to continue forever in such a state. With compassion, He allowed sin to usher in death. God created an imminent end to suffering and pain and all the uglies of the world as we know it. Death is not a need to satisfy, death satisfies a need.
That alone is a testimony to God’s great love, but it does not end there. In allowing for death, God also allowed for man to receive a second chance — an eternal chance — one where the tragedies of the world no longer exist. Ironically, this did require life for life. But only once. Christ died, so that we might live. Not forever in death and decay, but eternally in the presence of a God who is gracious and compassionate, and rich in love.
I still pray for my friend to live. I have to believe she will. But when I ask for mercy, I know that God will answer either way.