17 Oct 2016

God does not want us sick. Really? What does it mean?


I got called out.

So burdened I was about some of my friend's struggles with chronic physical pain (to which I am no stranger during those years when I was healing from fine fractures in my spine), I grabbed screenshots off the seminar and blasted it to the group chat. In my enthusiasm to share some hope, I shared information about a seminar that began with "God does not want any of us to be sick."

She replied promptly with this: I just read a review..I think that can be a dangerous view because then you can't explain why Christians who take healthy diet and live good, spiritually above reproach lives get cancer or die young (read Job). In fact I think God's perfect will is for all to come to the knowledge of Him and his sovereignty."


In this day of information flying all over us and coming at us from us at so many directions, slowing down and taking the effort to check and think is truly needed.

You see, I was right, but not enough.

God indeed does not desire sickness for any of us. But we see that only in Genesis 1-2 (from deduction), and then in Revelation. Right now between Genesis 3-Jude, things are very different and this is where we live.

Where we set our assumptions determine the path we go.

If we begin with God not wanting us to be sick, we will resent it when we are. We will dig endlessly around for reasons why we may be sick.

Did we sin?
Are we being punished?
Do we lack faith?

However, if we understand that God does not want us to be sick and has provided for that day through Jesus Christ, but we are not yet in that place, the conversation changes.

I do not welcome sickness and resign myself to it. Of course not. We have a new lease of life in Christ. Yet we do live in a broken world and are figuring out how our new lease of life is to be experienced and shared in an environment hostile to it.

So we have hope. Miracles happen. We can lay hands and command diseases to flee. Fevers leave, joints are set right, pains subside and stop.

But we also begin with our reality. Germs exist, accidents happen, disease is a frightful opponent.
Sometimes, God intervenes and delivers, raising even the clinically dead. Other times, he chooses to receive his child back home.

One of my heroes of the faith is Amy Carmichael. She rescued children from temple prostitution in South India.

 She lived such a blameless and selfless life. But the final two decades of her life was mostly spent increasingly in bed and in pain. Those twenty years with chronic pain, she prayed and thought and wrote some of the most illuminating and powerful books ever (books by Amy C).

It will be a travesty to say she remained sick because she did not pray a certain way. The only right way to pray as Jesus reminds us is to be honest and humble before God:

"But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'..." ~ Luke 18v9-14

That wouldn't be Amy's issue at all.

In case you are wondering, Amy lived from 1867-1951, and unlike so many things done in the name of Christ, her mission work endures even after a century: Donhavur Fellowship. The legacy of her life, her work, and her faith is astounding.

Practically, what does this mean for us?

When I fall sick, I take it that my sickness is speaking to me in various possible ways:

1. It is time to rest
Seriously, city-dwellers have a way of going at a speed that is largely detrimental to our health. God designed our body to be a finely-tuned instrument that will scream for attention when it is out of whack. Rest and restoration is needful for good equilibrium (as for how to really rest, check ...).

2. It is time to pray
The sovereignty of GOd is not an abstract theological idea. It is a present truth we need to learn to press onto our lives because it leaves a very different imprint. Sickness starts me on a new conversation for me to seek God for insight and better understanding about life in general, and my life, in particular. Sometimes as I pray, I decide against seeing a doctor. Always, I pray authoritatively over the sickness, commanding it not to become an doorway for fear and worry. I rebuke it and demand it leave. I then give my body permission to heal at its pace.

3. It is time to rely on others
Hopefully, none of us are so wary or shy of others that we live in total isolation. I learnt that I will be less miserable if I had the right foods and drinks to help me along. So I had to make a list and share it with the dh so that he can help me as I heal. One time, I was so sick and even the extended family was unavailable due to a bereavement, so I called up an elder who is a doctor. He could sense the urgency and I think he saved my life when he came and gave me that injection.

I am glad my friend pointed out my error. She also texted this:

"Once you know Him and have an intimate relationship with Him, all the cares of the world and our mortal self become strangely dim."

Indeed. May we live with the clear imprint of a Sovereign God upon our lives so we can say like Amy -

“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates”