Before I was afflicted I went astray, buy now I obey your word. (Psalm 119:67)
Is our sickness always an attack by the spiritual forces of evil in this world? If we are looking for the root cause, then the answer is a resounding “YES,” taking us all the way back to the encounter between Satan and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
But now that sin and sickness and suffering has entered this world through the fall, we must decide: Is sickness always an attack on us? Are we to assume, as the faith healers tell us, that God wants us to remain healthy every day, all the way into glory? When you put the question into this light, the answer is a resounding “NO!” Sickness is a servant of our Savior.
God put this truth on display in the life of the apostle Paul. Paul was given a “thorn,” and he prayed three times that God might take it away. But Paul’s sickness was his Savior’s servant, keeping Paul from becoming conceited because of the incredible ministry God had given him. Whatever this thorn was, it was not the picture of health in the life of Paul; indeed, Paul said that it caused him torment. God could have taken the thorn away in an instant. God could have prevented it from ever afflicting Paul. But He did not. Instead, God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When we understand this truth, we change our perspective on sickness. Instead of first crying out for healing, we look for God’s purpose in it. It is certainly right and biblical to pray for a restoration of our good health, but we must not miss the deeper truth: that God sends sickness as His servant to draw us closer to Him. Perhaps it was sent because of some sin in our lives (see 1 Corinthians 11:30); or because of Satan (Paul said his thorn was “a messenger of Satan” in 2 Corinthians 12:7); or for some other purpose of God altogether (John 9:3). But regardless of the reason, all sickness becomes a servant in our Savior’s hand. If God allows it to continue, you can be sure it is for His glory and your ultimate good.
Has sickness been testing the outer edges of your health plan lately? Cry out to God, but pay close attention to His response. It may be for you like it was for Paul, that God has a far greater purpose in your life, one better accomplished with this sickness than without it. When this is the case, submitting to the servant of sickness for the glory of our Savior is the pathway to blessing.
We must remember that we are not our own; we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)—that price being the precious blood of the Lamb of God shed for us on Calvary’s cruel cross. God has every right to do with us as He pleases to accomplish His purpose in our lives. He is the Potter; we are His clay. If He has ordained sickness to be His servant in our lives, may we receive it, knowing that His grace is sufficient for us and His power is being made perfect in our weakness. And may we give all glory to our God, knowing that when we get to the other side of the grave, there will be no more sickness, suffering, or sorrow.
And may Paul’s response to God’s message about the thorn encourage you today to rejoice in the Lord always!
I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 J.B. Phillips)
May you be strong in Him this day, and every day—in sickness and in health.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!