God is intimately involved in all that happens in our lives. And if what happens is cancer, then not only does He know about it, He makes it happen.
If you want to see God in your life, you have to look for Him. And the more you look for Him, the more you find Him.
It is very easy to look at the events in one’s life as being random. Take cancer, for example. Cells mutate in our bodies every day. Fortunately, they are killed by our immune system. On very rare occasions, a cell mutates into one that the immune system does not see as alien. This cell can now go forth and multiply. Innocuous and inane, yet deadly. This simple little cell seeds an illness that kills slowly, painfully and horrifically, but absolutely surely.
So where is God in all of this? Nature takes its course. Some people get lucky, some get unlucky. But God seems to take a back seat.
It’s so easy to feel this way about the world. But it’s completely incorrect.
Firstly, on a philosophical level, if you believe God to be infinite then He cannot take a back seat. He is the active element of all that exists and all that happens. A cancer cell cannot grow without God willing it to grow.
On a relationship level, God is our father. He loves us as a father loves a child – and more so, because He works in infinites.
No loving father, were he able to prevent it, would allow his child to be left to the random happenings of this world. Any loving father who could prevent his child from sickness, accident, pain, would surely do so. The same loving father might actively cause his child pain in order to help him grow. But no father would randomly and meaninglessly allow his child to suffer.
You can believe in no God or you can believe in a pagan god. But if you are a believer in the Jewish God, you must believe that He is intimately involved in all that happens in our lives. And if what happens is cancer, then not only does He know about it, He makes it happen.
Why He makes bad things happen is the point of a different discussion that I hope to deal with in a future article. But the starting point is seeing and feeling God’s direct involvement in your life. The more you see and feel Him on a day to day basis, the more you will be able to see and feel Him in times of challenge.
I want to give one simple exercise that my wife and I would do with our children and guests on Friday night. It will change your life if you do it. We call it ‘hashgacha stories’ – stories of Divine providence.
Everyone at the table relates a story that happened to them during the week in which they saw God’s hand in their lives. It could be that you needed money for a meter and found it on the floor. Or that you needed a parking space and someone pulled out just as you went past. Or you were about to call someone when they called you. Small things that you could easily mistake as being random, but when you think about them you realise they are anything but random.
My 4-year-old son told one of my favourite stories. He recounted how he was opening a bottle of soda and it all spurted out. It was Divine providence that it didn’t go on him; it went on his sister instead!
My family has done this for 3 years now and I can testify to its power. We have learned to see God in all that happens. We are actively looking out for stories all week that we can share with each other on Shabbat. It is a simple exercise that takes only 10 minutes a week, but it will become a part of your whole week. It’s fun as well. Why not try it out? It’s only a start, but the more you look for God, the more you find Him.