On Sickness and Sovereignty

At PBC, we have found ourselves praying often lately for members and friends who are sick or having surgery. In fact, if you are the one who is sick or that one is a family member, you can become very weary, especially if the condition doesn’t get better quickly. If we are in pain, we want it to stop. If we feel bad, we want relief. If our loved one is hurting, we pray for God to bring good health, and we want it now!
If our sickness or pain lasts a long time, we get disappointed and impatient. We wonder why God doesn’t come through for us quicker. Sometimes we even murmur and complain against Him. This is actually nothing new. David talks about sickness. The prophets compare the spiritual condition of sinning Israel with a person who is sick. The Lord Jesus Christ validated His words by His actions–healing lepers, restoring the sight of the blind, even raising the dead. “though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” John 10: 38.
So if James is right, and “The prayer of faith will save the sick,” then why does healing not come as soon as we pray? Because we don’t have enough faith? Paul had faith, and God said “No” when Paul asked that He remove the thorn, a messenger of Satan, that God had given him. And sometimes He says no when we ask Him to make us well, and for the same reason as He did to Paul–so that we may learn to boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.
Are you willing to be sick for a time so that the power of Christ may rest on you? Would you endure pain so that you can learn that God’s grace is sufficient for you that His strength can be made perfect in your weakness? Are you willing to suffer for a time so that you can take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. to learn that when I am weak, then I am strong by our Father’s grace? Are you willing to endure the sufferings of this present time that are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us?
This is the spirit of the apostles, of Christ’s beloved ones through the ages. We do not invite suffering, but we receive it and by grace make use of it to grow toward greater grace. Our Father knows what we need–whether daily bread or temporary affliction. And if this sickness lead to death, then it ushers us into the presence of Jesus for eternity. Our Lord is sovereign over joy and sadness, over health and sickness, over delight and suffering. Jesus is Lord!

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