The idea of being willing to submit to God's authority when we're sick and weak isn't easy. Dealing with heart-moving cases of the critically ill can call up the question of, "why, Lord, why?"
The apparent silence of God is often bewildering, especially when the patient has lived an innocent and good life. They don't deserve the pain and misery.
From the perfectly healthy bodies of Adam and Eve, came the ability to sin. As a result, deterioration of body and soul began. With the entry of sin into God's perfect world came pain, suffering, and death.
And, Jesus, in the Father, knew it would happen even before the foundation of the world. Since the beginning of humanity, there has not been a single fever, ache or pain that has escaped His notice. He knows our sorrows, and is very aware of our grief.
The problems of evil, of unanswered prayers, unrelieved pain, and obvious immorality are with us every day.
Billy Graham has said, "Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ."
Sometimes suffering is a direct result of our sinful actions. Other times we suffer because of the sinful actions of others. In other instances, we suffer because of circumstances beyond anyone's control.
Our bodies, which were created to be perfect, contract sickness and disease because nature itself has been in constant rebellion against God since the time of Adam and Eve.
Read Hebrews 5:8 to see Christ as our example of suffering. He was perfectly obedient, and yet God allowed Him to suffer not just excruciating physical death, but also the wrath and punishment for the sins of the entire world. Pain, shame, rejection by His friends, abandonment by His Father, this is what paid for our sin and bought our salvation.
Whether our illnesses are healed or not on this side of heaven, God uses our attitudes and action in the midst of illness to bring glory to Himself.
God wants us to take every concern to Him in prayer. This includes our sicknesses and our desire to be healed.
When we pray our concerns, we acknowledge that God on the One in ultimate control of our life. We cannot always understand His plan; but since we know He is good and loving, we must trust His ways.
It is in the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that offers the hope we so desperately need during our most painful life experiences.
When we suffer, we are like Christ. First Peter 4:12-13 says, Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
Just as we are like Jesus in our suffering, we will also rejoice with Him. Even when suffering, then, with His hope and help with our decisions, we can and will find peace and comfort.
Bonnie Donnelly is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people.
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