So I have been wrestling with the issue of suffering and sickness lately. I have been seeing so many people suffering with sickness and it's affecting me. And to be quite frank, I get a little tired of hearing the same old same old. You know, the typical christian response. I mean what else can we say. Not to be flippant or disrespectful by any means, but I guess I just long for more. I long to see the Gospel have it's full effect in people's lives, in every area. We know that the power of sin is gone thanks to the finality of the cross, and the curse of the law is gone, but do we realize sickness and poverty are dealt with as well.
Today I decided to pick up Bill Johnson's book, "Face to Face with God", and in it I found a wonderful response to the dilemma in my mind.
" When we allow sickness, torment, and poverty to be thought of as the God-ordained tools He uses to make us more like Jesus, we have participated in a very shameful act. There is no doubt He can use them, as He is also known to be able to use the devil himself for His purposes. (He can win with a pair of twos.) But to think these things are released into our lives through His design, or that He approved such things, is to undermine the work at Calvary. To do so one must completely disregard the life of Christ and the purpose of the cross. None of us would say that He died for my sins but still intends that I should be bound by sin habits. Neither did He pay for my healing and deliverance so I could continue in torment and disease. His provision for such things is not figurative: it is actual.
Furthermore, it dishonors the Lord to disregard His work in order to justify our difficulty to believe for the impossible. It is time to own up to the nature of the gospel and preach it for what it is. It is the answer for every dilemma, conflict, and affliction on the planet. Declare it with boldness, and watch Him invade Earth once again. (Acts 4:28-29)"
That addressed the issue I hear come up all the time, that I think behavior driven christians come up with to comfort themselves. The issue is that some think God allows us to be sick to produce character in us. Another issue that bugs me is the one when christians are praying to heal someone only if it is God's will. That just shows that we really don't GET what happened at the cross. Where are we getting our theology from anyway? Bill Johnson says this;
"Jesus Christ is perfect theology. For anyone who wants to know the will of God, look at Jesus. He is the will of God. Some pray, "If it be Thy will," as though God's will is unclear. You would have to ignore the life of Christ to come to such a conclusion.
How many people came to Jesus for healing and left sick? None. How many came to Him for deliverance and left His presence still under torment? None. How many life threatening storms did Jesus bless? None. How many times did Jesus withhold a miracle because the person who came to Him had too little faith? Never. He often addressed their small faith or unbelief, but He always left them with a miracle as a way to greater faith. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, perfectly illustrates the will of God the Father. To think otherwise is to put the Father and Son at odds. And a house divided will fall.
Why did Jesus raise the dead? Because not everyone dies in God's timing. We cannot have the Father choosing to do one thing and Jesus contradicting it with a miracle. Not everything that happens is God's will. God gets blamed for so much in the name of His sovereignty for long enough. Yes, God can use tragedy for His glory. But God's ability to rule over bad circumstances were His will. Instead it was to display that no matter what happens, He is in charge and will rework things to our advantage and to His glory. Our theology is not to be built on what God hasn't done. It is defined by what He does and is doing. The will of God is perfectly seen in the person of Jesus Christ. No one who ever came to Him was turned away."
All that said, I believe that we will face trials in this life and even persecution, and they will be a means of refinement as by fire. But I don't think the trials were meant to include sickness, infirmity, disease or even poverty. Just as we can say, sin has no power over us because it was dealt with at the cross, sickness also has been dealt with. I just pray that more and more believers will come to know this truth and that it will set more and more free. Shalom.