When we came back from Papua New Guinea in the 1990s, I struggled with some significant health issues. The Lord granted me healing more than I would have hoped or imagined. I never did return to what I was before but was doing really well after we moved here to North Carolina. In 2009, however, I began to have some issues with my nerves and muscles. Although it was suspected that this was autoimmune related, an actual diagnosis was never reached. With prayer, careful diet, and supplements, these problems were managed. I do have arthritis, which has been a problem for years. However, this is also managed, at least for now, with a certain supplement. I learned to cope with these things and thought I was content.
During the past couple of years, my digestive issues have returned with a vengeance, and some other health issues have surfaced as well. Though none of these are immediately life threatening, they are resulting in some serious issues. One of the digestive issues I'm dealing with is what my grandmother (Dad's mom) died from. She was 85 though; I'm only 44. I would like at least another 40 years. :-) It also feels like there is something outside the large intestine which is pressing on it and possibly causing some problems there as well. I know these issues can become serious and could result in major problems or possibly even an intestinal blockage. Having had minor situations along that line already, I have become acquainted with the incredible pain this can cause. Unlike the other things, this is not something being easily managed. This is something frustrating. However, God has been working in my heart about thankfulness. Joni Eareckson Tada has some videos and radio broadcasts about suffering. Although I don’t agree with her on everything, especially in the area of separation, it is apparent that she has learned Christ through her suffering. She has taken the time to develop a relationship with Him. Through this, she has helped many others in difficult times as well. She talks about how we don't need to know the plan because God is the plan. We only need to trust Him and to thank Him for our suffering. Thank Him? How does one thank Him for this kind of pain and for the possibility that things may never improve? After things had become so much better and then got worse again, wasn't it OK just to thank Him the first time? Why would God let it happen again after I thanked Him for it the first time around?
During the time that I was pondering on some of these things, I watched a video called "Sunday Morning Rapture." The video was geared mainly toward people who thought they were saved but really were not. One man had sung in the choir, paid tithes, gone to church regularly but stilled owed money. "Where is the abundant life we were promised?" he complained. Others had various scenarios in their lives, and they had gone to church, prayed, done good, tried to live by "Christian" principles, and so on. But God had not taken away their problems and given them what they wanted or thought they needed. I began to realize how often I think like an unsaved person. “If I will just do my devotions and pray and thank the Lord, and do everything right, He will fix all my problems for me. After all, doesn’t the Bible say, ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.’? (John 14:13,14) Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.’? (Psalm 34:19) Also, the Bible says that it is the LORD who ‘forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.’ (Psalm 103:3)” That problem is that I did not earn God’s merit and favor for salvation. I do not earn points with Him now by doing all the right things. I should do right things because God loves me and works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. He has already promised that He will not withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. (See Psalm 84:11) It is God that works in me to do His good pleasure. It is not I that work in my flesh to earn His favor.
The Bible does say the things that are quoted in the verses above, and it may well be the Lord’s will to heal me. It does no harm to ask. Whether here or in the better world, I will surely be healed. There is no question about that. The best is yet to come. Everything really will be OK. I think of the man whose son recently died of cancer. The young boy had suffered with cancer for several years. The father tried all those days to prepare himself for his son’s death, while the son spent all those days living life to the fullest as if he had no plans to die. After the son died, the father was surprised and a little upset that he was not able to mourn his son’s death as he thought he would. He remarked that he had spent too much time mourning his son’s death while his son was still alive. I think that is how it is with me too often. I pray and beseech the Lord. I do not know what His answer will be; but I expect that He will grant that for which I pray unless He specifically lets me know otherwise. In the meantime, I should not be concerning myself with the “otherwise,” but should be looking to see every day what blessings the Lord is granting; because “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” (Psalm 68:19) God daily loadeth me with benefits. If I focus only on the blessing I want that is likely sometime in the future, I will miss all the benefits with which He loads me daily. I don’t want to miss living while I’m spending my time wondering.
This week we had revival meetings at our church. On Tuesday night of the revival, the evangelist spoke on “The Painful Principle.” It was a good sermon, and he gave some practical advice for dealing with suffering.
1. I Peter 2:21
Look to Christ for the example – Jesus suffered but did no sin
2. I Peter 3:14
Do not be afraid. It is normal to experience some fear, but I should not let fear control me. I need to let God and His word be my guide.
3. I Peter 3:15
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Set the Lord apart to bow and worship Him when trials and difficulties come. Job set this example. When all His possessions and His children were taken from him, he fell down and worshiped the Lord. (See Job 1:20)
4. I Peter 3:15 Be ready to witness
5. I Petr 3:16
Keep a clear conscience. Also, trust in the LORD and not in self – Proverbs 3:5,6 and I Peter 4:1. I do not have the solution to my painful situation, but God does.
6. I Peter 4:12
Consider it normal. This is perhaps the hardest part, but pain and suffering and sickness and death are all a part of this sin cursed world. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) There will be trials and tribulations as long as I am in this world, but Jesus has overcome the world. There is victory over these situations, and there is victory over the world. The best is yet to come. Everything is going to be OK.
7. I Peter 4:13 and 3:14 – Rejoice and then some
8. I Peter 4:16 – Do not be ashamed
My trouble or illness is not something to be ashamed of. The apostle Paul said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Corinthians 12:9b,10) My infirmity is laid upon me so that I might learn the power of Christ and might glorify Him. Therefore, I do not need to be ashamed of the trouble I am going through. It is trouble that has come upon me so that I can experience the strength of the Lord and so that my life might glorify Him.
9. I Peter 4:19 Commit myself to Him
I Peter 2:23 When Jesus suffered, He committed Himself to His Father that judgeth righteously. I can do the same.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Below I have put a file with the evangelist’s sermon so that you can listen to it if you like. It is listed by a different title but is the same sermon. God bless!