John Piper, on the eve of surgery for prostate cancer, has powerful words of hope in a sovereign God. (The surgery went well and he is recovering.)
Piper has a very high view of God, and that is often confusing to people. It's terrible in its simplicity - God IS GOD. God is fully sovereign in every way, in every respect. Nothing happens that He does not permit, and did not forsee from before His creation of time. Everything - everything! that happens is due to His plan and design, whether or not we can understand it.
That's the sticking point for a lot of people. "I can't understand how a loving God could let my mother die of cancer," they say. So they either dismiss God as callous and uncaring, or limit His sovereignty by saying that pain isn't part of His plan.
They ignore the third path - the paradox that a loving, merciful God can design pain and suffering into our lives. Sometimes we can see His hand clearly - would the Acua Indians have come to salvation if not for the martydom of Jim Elliot?
Oftimes, though, we can't.
And that's where we have to simply accept the paradox. God IS infinitely loving and merciful. Yet He permits suffering.
We can't understand it.
But we don't have to understand everything.
Disclosure - I consider myself blessed to have sat under John Piper's teachings for a decade. He baptized me and my wife, and officiated at our wedding in the old sanctuary at Bethlehem Baptist Church (now the site of the new education wing at BBC).
Also, I lost my mother to cancer when I was 4. I was at my uncle's side when he died of stomach cancer 20-odd years ago. My stepmother died of ovarian cancer about a decade ago. And as an asthmatic, I've stared death in the face a couple of times myself.