The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
The Epistle of James begins with trials (1:2-4) and ends with trials (5:13-20). It is a letter about many things, but it most certainly is a letter about how to respond to trials. Specifically, I have been considering what James says in 5:13-20 about praying when you are sick or suffering. I have been convicted about how many remedies I see for relief or encourage others to pursue when they are sick in place of the simple question, “Have we prayed?”
And as I have been considering sickness in general, I have jotting down a biblical framework of thinking about sickness. What follows is a biblical primer of why we get sick (with no commentary or notes about the physical or medical reasons we get sick).
#1 – Sin is the foundational reason for all sickness. Adam and Eve, in Garden of Eden, without sin, would never get sick. Their bodies were not decaying, and there was no rotting of the bones. They were destined to live without illness. But, sin brought disease and sickness. Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The consequence of sin was that death was now guaranteed. And in order for death to occur, the body has to be dying. And part of that dying process is getting sick. Everyone dies, with the exception of those alive when the Lord returns.
#2 – God has the power to heal any kind of sickness. He is omnipotent or all-powerful. Luke 1:37 tells us, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” In the N.T., we see fevers broken, blind are given sight and dead men are risen. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility for God when it comes to healing.
#3 – God doesn’t always heal every kind of sickness. He simply doesn’t. Other than Elijah and Enoch, everyone else in the Bible died. Countless billions of people have died in history. Even every “faith healer” has died. God does not heal or spare everyone death. The fact that God doesn’t heal all of us of all of our sicknesses must mean that He views it as “productive,” which leads us to the next point.
#4 – Spiritual health is far more important than physical health. While I would say spiritual and physical heath can be connected (e.g., self-control), the biblical gives far more attention and weight to spiritual well-being than physical well-being.
#5 – Sickness is never wasted by God. I have said for years that God does not waste pain. In most cases, you could argue that going through a sickness or being on your death bed is a very spiritually productive time as God exposes character and Himself to you. If God has designed everything to work for good for those that love Him (Rom 8:28), then we have to accept that allowing sickness in our life will be sanctifying on some level. It could be that He wants to reveal some kind of sin in your life and sickness is the way to do that (I John 5:16-17). It could be that He wants you to realize you are working too hard or too much and have created idols in your vocation and need to get more rest. Whatever the reason for our sickness, it will be sanctifying.
#6 – Being sick is another way to glorify God. Listen to how Paul puts it in II Corinthians 1:8-10, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” Afflictions are an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to God by leaning on Him more, praying to Him more, trusting Him more, etc. We ought to bring glory to Him in everything (I Cor 10:31) and that includes sickness.
Certainty, there are more things to add this this brief biblical primer on sickness, but we will end here for now.