Wednesday, February 28, 2007

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something better & something lost

Someone once asked me if I could wish for three things what would it be? Not a difficult question, there is no tree falling in the woods or one hand clapping, it is the kind of thing people ask each other for conversation sake all the time. At that time I think I responded with my student debt paid off, a car, and the third thing escapes me. But reflecting on those two parts of my answer the heart of what I was asking for was freedom. I was asked by a co-worker at the college cafeteria that I worked for, and I was sort of stuck there. There aren’t many places to work in a village that exists because of the Bible College that is there, but I did good considering the options I had. Though I managed to obtain a pretty good job, I was still stuck. With some student debt racked up and no way of getting anywhere to get a better job I suppose I felt trapped. However, the questioner did not see this in my answer; he merely shot back as soon as I responded, “So you wouldn’t cure cancer?” He thought he was being smart and witty, and left right away to let his savvy answer sink in. But I stood there a moment and after thinking about it I said to my self—since there was no one else to talk to—“no, no I wouldn’t”

This probably seems cold hearted to some. Selfish to others. But it seems to me that after considering humanity through history, curing cancer, one of the most insidious diseases we battle with, wouldn’t be that much of a feat. We have cured many debilitating diseases before it, and even if we did cure it, something else would kill us. If it isn’t cancer, it could be the avian bird flu, maybe even SARS. I respect the medical profession, rely on it; I admire man’s ability to treat, control and fight diseases like cancer. And I think that missionaries might be better met if our culture could share more of its medical knowledge. But wishing away a problem like cancer seems more like wishing to live forever. I guess the question that I would be getting at here is would curing something as invasive as cancer make life better or just make life different?

And if we did make life better, physically, would it be better in every respect? Humanity over thousands of years has spent attempting to perfect and improve all aspects of humanity, and we weren’t always making forward steps. Through this process one idea has arisen; if we attempt to perfect something do we perhaps lose something greater? The same question applies to curing cancer, or curing any such crippling disease, if we achieve bodily perfection would we lose something else? Would we lose all of the good things we have seen, and even more of the good things we have never even realized by making everything perfect as we see it?

My student loans are greater now, but I do have a car. And I think if I was asked again I’d still like them to be paid off. If money had been no object, however, I wouldn’t have changed much of what I did. I would have done it with less stress since I wouldn’t have had to work through school (but that same conclusion still stands, would something else have been lost). But I cannot see the course of humanity, my belief in God leads me to a belief in the fate of humanity, but I am not so pompous to believe that I know how we will get there. My belief in God also leads me to believe that He sees the big picture. And since He sees this I would trust what He presses on my heart to do. It occurs to me that perhaps I’m benefiting humanity more by following Him where he asks me to go than by solving the problems I think need to be fixed. If you don’t believe in God, than this could just seem like a cop-out answer, that I’m just doing what is in my heart just like everyone else and calling it God. Perhaps, that is a discussion for another time. The question that still remains is how do you know that what you’re wishing for is truly a benefit? Perhaps one person being freed of debt could be of greater profit to humanity than curing disease.