A Mother and her Two Daughters

30 March 2010



Last evening I had a very introspective night a déjà vu from almost twenty-three years ago when a drunk driver killed my husband three weeks after Allyson was born.  Being only 27-years-old, I must admit that my faith in God was not nearly as secure and experienced as today.  So, when well-meaning people would tell me, “This is all a part of God’s plan,” well – let’s just say I had a terrible “faith crisis” to deal with.  I was fortunate enough to have wise friends in the ministry like Dr. Gladwin Connell and Dr. James B. Argue to help guide me through the crisis. 

For those of you who remember the late Dr. Argue, you will remember him as a man of at least 6’6” tall.  When I was a small child growing up in his church, watching this sizable man with his large and crisp voice wearing a beautiful white robe in the PHUMC pulpit, I sometimes wondered if maybe he really was God.  As I grew older, I came to know him as very human, but very thoughtful and wise. 

The night after my husband’s death, Dr. Argue came to the house and said to me, “I have no answers because God does not intend for terrible things like this to happen.”  He then handed me a book entitled “The Will of God” written in 1944 by Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, a Methodist minister from England.  The original book is actually a total of 55-pages broken down into five sermons Weatherhead delivered to his London congregation at City Temple during the tumultuous time of World War II.  It was Dr. Argue’s last copy of the book’s original printing, and one that I will forever cherish. 

I reread Weatherhead’s book last night and felt an instant sense of comfort after reading the opening paragraph.  Weatherhead says that the phrase "the will of God" (or in today-speak, “God’s plan”) is used loosely, and the consequence of that looseness to our peace of mind is serious.  “God’s plan” and “God’s will” are trite phrases that are often used to explain life events that we cannot find meaning for otherwise.

Was it really a part of God’s plan for Allyson to lose her dear father as an infant child?  Does God really intend for millions of people to suffer from the ravages of cancer or multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease? Did God have some plan for the death and destruction experienced on 9/11 or by the people of Haiti and Chile during their recent devastating earthquakes?  When my friends lost their baby to a rare form of cancer, was this really a part of God’s plan? 

Weatherhead points out that the will of God isn't something that calls for a sigh of surrender to the inevitable.  Instead, he points out three different forms of God's will:
  1. Intentional Will: God's will is unfailingly positive and creative.  He has an intentional and positive purpose for every life.
  2. Circumstantial Will:  Based on the circumstances of life (death, illness, war, natural destruction, sin and human folly), the intentional will of God can be disturbed. 
  3. Ultimate Will:  Our recovery from the circumstance to a unity with God, a faith with our father. Whenever life becomes far more treacherous than we can handle alone, it is God’s Ultimate Will that we turn to Him for guidance and light for our "sacred journey."

For you see, God does not Will us to experience the early death of a child or terminal illness.  There are no master control switches or puppet strings where God is orchestrating the evil and sorrowful circumstances of life.  Death and illness and natural destruction are not what God intended for us.  Instead, God’s hope for his children (Intentional Will) is that during sorrowful times (Circumstantial Will) that we seek His message of love and comfort and hope (Ultimate Will). 

Dr. Weatherhead gives the example of a good friend, a physician, whose dearly loved wife had recently died. For weeks this brilliant physician had been fighting for his wife’s life.  He had called in the best specialists in London.  He had used all the devices of modern science that could be used to fight this disease.  Weatherhead asks, “All that time, was my friend fighting against God’ plan, the will of God?”

His own response:  “Your wife’s death is not the will of God at all.  It is the fruit of human ignorance.  If we could spend as much on medical research as we spend on building battleships, your wife’s life might have been saved.” 

It is NOT a part of God’s plan for me or anyone else to experience Stage III breast cancer.  Instead, I am quite sure that the battle AGAINST disease is the will of God.  Let us give thanks to all who have made their path into medicine and research.  We should also give thanks for philanthropists like the Rockefellers and Cellas and Tenenbaums and Higginbothams, and so many others, who create and sustain outstanding facilities like the Rockefeller Cancer Institute.  Today I will give thanks to all of them, for they are part of God’s will and his plan. 

After reading such serious thoughts, you must know that my mind is clear and that I’m feeling much better, enough so that I read a 55-page book last night and felt clear enough to write this rant about the loose phrase used by so many – “This all a part of God’s plan.”  

My first chemotherapy treatment resulted in some terrible side effects 8 days later, and a three-day hospital stay on days ten/eleven and twelve.  Today is day 8 after chemo and I am feeling so much better than before.  Dr. Makhoul has certainly found the right balance of drugs to help me endure the powerful chemo cocktail. Thank you Dr. Makhoul, and for all of those on my UAMS medical team, and to all who have made this medical team possible.  Today life is good and I am very thankful.  


  1. I made a "sizable" error in this post. Those who knew and remember Dr. Argue have corrected me -- he was SIX FEET, FIVE INCHES tall. As a child, he seemed as big as the moon to me.

  2. Stacy, I "enjoyed" your theologizing and memories of Dr. Argue. I haven't experienced what you are going through, but my heart failure last year after triplets was devastating. As I lay in the CCU days before Christmas, I wasn't sure if my four young children would have a mom to raise them. I remember the only Christmasy thing I could find on TV--I was afraid to sleep--was a PBS Faith Hill concert. She sang this song, "A Baby Changes Everything." I'd never heard it. I cried and cried. I knew it wasn't God's will for me to not raise my children, but I needed something "in the flesh" to hold onto. That's when I got to thinking of our Christian teaching of God's "enfleshment," coming into the world as one of us, vulnerable to the point of sharing our sorrows, suffering and joys. It didn't change my diagnosis, but it reminded me that, as the hymn goes, "Jesus Walks This Lonesome Valley" with us. And so here it is Holy Week, week of sadness and loss, and week of Resurrection. As you point out, many of our little "resurrections" come from the goodness of those who stand with us to fight disease, who commit money to research, and offer care and treatment. Thanks for reminding us that health and wholeness is the will of God.

  3. Stacy, I am thankful for Leslie Weatherhead's life and this book. The Argue class studied it last year and I was so moved by it that I bought every member of my family a copy for Christmas. I don't doubt you treasure your copy. I am also thankful that you are feeling better. Hang in there. Thanks for reminding us that God wants the best for us.

  4. Stacy,
    Think you know my struggles, including a soul-felt wish to have a child. Wasn't in the cards ultimately, but before I got to a peaceful spot at the end of that struggle, I had to do exactly what you and your posters have done -- come to the realization that God didn't want for me not to have a baby. Came to realize too that he had wished for a lot of special people in my life, including my stepdaughter and stepson. Turns out I already had the children I wanted. Of course I didn't get there without some fist-waving and cursing at my ceiling (you know God lives in the ceiling, right?). I think knowing I could be mad at God (and the ceiling)was ultimately the freedom I needed to get to the peace I needed so desperately. Someone said that it might be just another form of praying. Anyway -- thanks to you and your posters for some beautiful thoughts. And you know I can curse with the best of them -- so if you need a cursing buddy just let me know.


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