Is the God you believe in the one in the Bible, the one you were taught at home or in church, or the one in your imagination? This may sound like an unusual question, but it wasn’t the day I walked into the room of a snow-white haired 80+-year-old lady cancer patient at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, FL. I introduced myself as the Chaplain and that I just wanted to drop in and say hello and see how she was doing. I didn’t expect the response I got, “I don’t need any chaplain! I’m Jewish and I don’t see what any chaplain can do for me!
That’s when the Holy Spirit took over. I smiled and said, “Thank goodness, sometimes I don’t want to talk to a patient as a chaplain, but just as a caring friend who wants to know what they can do to help. So, can I talk to you as a friend?” She wasn’t expecting my reply either, but it broke the tension and she asked me to sit down. I wanted to know how things were going and if I could help in any way. Her replay was: “I’m a WWII holocaust survivor, the only one in my family. I saw my parents and siblings die in the concentration camp where we were being kept. What I don’t understand is why would God help me survive the holocaust but now let me die of cancer?”
I told her it depended on what God we were talking about. She looked surprised! She muttered, “I thought Christians and Jews all believe in the same God?” I nodded my head and said that this all depended on what God we are talking about. She looked startled. So, I told her that most people grow up about God, but we needed to know if it was the God of the Bible, the God of our religion, or the God of our imagination. She looked at me with an expression of, “Now I get it!” That’s when she told me it was the God of the Bible that she believed in. I smiled and said great, I do too, now let me tell you what I’ve learned about this God.
I then asked her if she knew that Abraham had to survive many such difficulties; that Isaac also came close to being sacrificed by his own father; that Jacob had to live through famine and living in Egypt; that many of the Prophets were faced with trying times and even physical danger. But yet, God brought them through victoriously. There was a moment of silence, then she smiled, looked at me and said, “Can you please tell me more about this God of the Bible.”
So, the same question must be answered by all of us. What God do you believe in? Are you satisfied with the God taught to you by your religion or the God of your imagination? Just remember, it may not seem important right now, but it will be crucial when you leave this earth to stand before your God of the Bible. – Dr. Robert R Seyda