Friday, October 26, 2012

Sickness For The Glory Of God

It's an interesting question, one that has been discussed through the ages.  Why does someone become ill?  In a technical sense, medical knowledge and technology have come so far that it is actually easier to determine the source of illness.  We (I guess I can use that term since I work in health care)  now know that there are a multitude of entities which can lead to illness.  It could be germs, genetics, the environment, exposure to chemicals, overeating, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking, too much medication or not enough medication (just to name a few).  We are blessed with a plethora of lab tests, bone scans, CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds to pinpoint the source of a disease.

Yet, the question remains, "Why does a person get sick?"  It's a question that troubled Jesus' disciples.  Seeing a blind man in their midst, it appeared to be the opportune time to ask Jesus for further insight.  They were quoted in John 9:2-3 saying, "...Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?  Jesus answered, 'It was neither that his man sinned nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.'"  Jesus stated that the blind man in no way brought his sickness upon himself.  The blindness also wasn't due to the errors of his parents.  In a most bizarre concept which cuts against the grain of our natural thinking, Jesus said this unfortunate man's sickness would actually be for the glory of God. 

How can sickness be for the glory of God?  First of all, sickness can draw a person to Christ.     Psalms 119:71 says, "It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes."  Many people don't think about death at all.  They may feel like their earthly bodies will never fail, that life on this planet is never ceasing.  Yet, when someone gets sick, it testifies how temporary we are.  Our bodies are deteriorating.  Hence, those who never consider the afterlife may suddenly realize their necessity for a savior when they are on their deathbeds.

Also, sickness can be the catalyst to develop a new ministry.  II Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort  with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  Before my cancer diagnosis in 2004, I rarely thought about cancer or sickness for that matter.  Now, I have a cancer ministry with a book, a blog, and speaking opportunities as God provides.  Although I wouldn't wish cancer upon anyone, my sickness has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined.  So, people with cancer, diabetes, whatever, should use their sickness to minister to others.

Finally, sickness can help deliver others through your example.  I've mentioned this in a previous blog, "Overcoming Cancer: People Are Watching You", but the words of Acts 16 still grip my heart.  "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.." (vs 25).  You know, prisoners need an example to follow in the midst of adversity.  My cancer may have been given to me in order to be an encouragement to my family, my co-workers, my church or my community.  We all need heroes, people that inspire us, that prompt us to move forward in life.  What happens to us when someone close overcomes a great adversity?  Acts 16:26 lists the result in that , "...everyone's chains were unfastened".  We become free through their freedom.  We think, "If they can make it, so can I!!!".

So, can sickness be used for the glory of God?  Absolutely.  I pray that you will use your infirmity for His kingdom.

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