Did I cause this?

Yes. In a word, you did. I chose to have hormone therapy (strong correlation between hormone therapy and cancer). And what’s more, in one way or another, I’ve caused most of the pain in my own life. I would put all of these things in the “if only” camp: If only I’d been a better parent, If only I hadn’t insisted on hormone therapy, if only I’d given my life over to God in high school, if only I didn’t decide I would impress everyone in gym class in 1982 (a bad year for me!) and take the turn on the track too fast, I wouldn’t have wiped out and—humiliatingly—been taken, head back and moaning in what had become my signature Kate James is in pain bellwether, to the nurses office in a wheelchair.

If only I had given over to God the crap other people had done to me earlier. I could be like Joseph and say cool stuff like “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many souls.” (Genesis 50:20) Come on, Joseph, really? Aren’t you Mr. I’m-so-sood-and-godly-you-should-probably-write-it-all-down-for-other-people-to-read-centuries-from-now. Geesh.

Regardless of the chain of ‘if onlys’; the causal lineage we’re all entangled in, even if we have to go back to the apple and the tree there’s most assuredly someone or something you can point a finger at. And it feels good to point a finger. It feels good to point a finger if it’s pointing away from you. If it’s pointing at yourself, not so much.

I point my finger at myself all the time. I can feel like everything is my own fault. And I know that even as I write this, friends and family are already picking up their phones and shooting off emails to convince me otherwise, I say to all of you—tongue in cheek of course: get behind me Satan (Matthew 16:23).

Sin is sin is sin. It’s a real thing. Recently, as Rick and I have been praying for situations and people, we’ve been asking God to do what he’s so very good at doing. It’s like his signature maneuver; “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) and all of the complicated ways the evil one produces evil: our own sin, other people’s sin, hurricanes and floods. Destroying means much more than just defeating, or winning, or even take that evil. Destroying means flipping stuff around. Using the very thing that was intended to derail us to provide the extra fuel to hit 270 mph, that sweet spot that only the most innovative transport—like Shanghai's magnetic levitation train—barrels along at.

 Turning evil on its head means turning something very very bad into something very very good.

And of course, as an aside and to address those who might misunderstand me in all this, yes, I believe God can and does prevent sin, hurricanes, and floods, but perhaps sometimes the ‘destroying evil’ is, in a strange way that we’re unable to comprehend this side of Heaven, *worth the sin, hurricanes, and floods. Maybe, like our savior hanging on the cross, sin being flipped into good is just so freaking amazing that it becomes worth it.

But while this might make perfect sense, when it comes to my own sin I have a tendency to disregard all of it. The bad that I suffer because of my own bad seems nothing but punishment. To be completely honest, it reeks of penance: of me taking the place of my savior on the cross. As if!

However, even my own stupidity and foolishness and stubbornness is not immune to God’s great work. If I had married some guy because he had all sorts of worldly awesomeness (I don’t know, had a yacht and cool hair or something) instead of a husband whom I respect and loves me and loves God, and he turned out to be a tool and have affairs and stuff and go to that Ashley Madison sybaritic (you can look that word up) site, even then—even though it was my fault for marrying someone for the wrong reasons—God could overcome it, turn even my brainless decision into something beautiful and eternally good. I love that word eternally. It’s not just good here in earthly ‘time,’ but good forever. Sometimes, as Hebrews 11 makes clear, we don’t see much of the goodness here, but I’ve come to believe the eternal goodness that God produces when we confess and say "Help me, I really screwed up!" ends up worth the pain of taking a turn on the track too fast or loading myself with estrogen because it made be feel good at the time. Cancer shmancer. God’s got my back—and my dumbass ways—all figured out.

And it is good.

* of course keep in mind Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then, are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? . . ."   There's nothing good about sin and evil. But it is cool to watch God destroy it.