Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to look at a subject that we are all too aware of, that of illness. Everyone, at some point in time experiences illness, either directly or indirectly. Sometimes the illness that comes into our life is serious, even life threatening. Other times it is less serious and will pass after a period of time.
The question is often asked, "Why is there illness?" In answering this question, I do not mean to oversimplify the answer, but quite simply, it is because of sin. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered the world. Sin is the cause of a great deal of illness and suffering in our world today.
Now this is not to imply that all illness is caused by a personís sin. It is not and the Bible makes this clear. Sometimes illness is caused or brought about by Satan also known as the Devil. Two instances Iíd like to cite are in the life of Job and Paul.
In Job chapter one, we read of how Satan came to God making the accusation that the only reason Job worshiped God was because God was protecting him and his life was trouble free. Satan requested that he might have the opportunity to make Jobís life unpleasant. God granted him his request and Job lost all his family, except his wife and all his possessions. How Job responded to all this is quite amazing. In Job 1:20-22, we read, "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."
Well Satan was not satisfied to say the least. He seldom is by the way unless he can turn you against God. We read in chapter two that he came to God a second time concerning Job. This time he wanted to take his health from Job. God granted Satan permission. In Job 2:7-8, we read, "So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes." Not a pleasant sight to say the least. We donít know exactly what the illness was, but for sure it was extremely painful.
We canít leave this section without seeing how Job responded to this catastrophe. In Job 2:9-10, we read, "Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Itís no wonder why Satan left Jobís wife alone the first time! In all seriousness, look at Jobís response, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" I am afraid that the mentality of many, including many Christians, is that God is only to allow "good" things into our lives. Many look at God as their "Cosmic Genie", their own "Sugar Daddy in the Sky". He is not; He is not a puppet to do our bidding when and how we please. He is God Almighty, Creator of the Heaven and the Earth. God does what He knows is best though many times we may not understand. Job recognized this truth and was able to be at peace with his situation.
The Apostle Paul also suffered some sort of illness. He was used mightily by the Lord. Yet for a reason known only to God at the time, Satan was given permission by God to strike Paul with some sort of infirmity. Exactly what it was we do not know. Many have guessed and speculated, but the simple fact is we do not know.
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, we read, "It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
There are three very important truths we need to see and understand in this text.
First, though Paul did not know it at the time, God had a specific reason for allowing Paul to be afflicted with this illness. No doubt Paul as he was praying and asking God to heal him, felt that he could be much more effective for the Lord had he been well physically. God knew differently. Not only could Paul be more effective with this infirmity, but also this sickness would keep Paul from exalting himself for the visions that he had had, thus rendering him of no use for the work of God. For James 4:6 says, "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Secondly, Satan on the other hand, also had a purpose in mind. It was to render Paul useless. By striking Paul with this infirmity, he hoped Paul would doubt Godís goodness and love for him. To bring into question Godís purpose and plan for his life, thus cast a shadow upon the character of God. Satan attempts to do the same with Godís children today. Listen dear ones; do not fall to Satanís lies. He has been a liar from the beginning. One of his greatest weapons against Godís people is doubt. If he can get you to doubt any aspect of Godís character, he has gained his objective. Donít let him. Trust God with all of your heart; do not lean to your own understanding.
Thirdly, notice Paulís response to all of this. He accepted Godís answer which was "No, Iím not going to heal you, but I will give you an immeasurable amount of grace." The grace of God is sufficient for any and all situations and circumstances that we will go through in this life.
Dear ones, if your going through a dark time in your life where illness has taken a hold. Cry out to God for His grace. He delights in mercy and gives grace without measure. If I can minister to you in any way please let me know. You may contact me at one of the addresses below. Until next time, may the Lord richly bless you.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail email@example.com
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine