It stinks to be sick. It really does! I don’t feel like working. I don’t feel like writing. I don’t feel like speaking. I’m a grump and would appreciate it if my wife would baby me and if not, leave me alone. I can’t sleep. I don’t want to eat. I can’t breath and my head hurts. Uuuugh!
As I think about my ailment, and wallow in my self-pity, I wonder, “why am I sick?” I’m not asking what virus or bacteria made my body react in such a violent manner. That culprit would be mold and the other junk that is in the air this time of year. My histamines are overreacting in a way that Benadryl and Zyrtec cant touch. No, I am asking a different question. WHY am I sick? What purpose, if any, is there in my illness? That kind of question hurts my head, but its hurting anyway, so…
God is supposedly sovereign, right? He can make me well. In fact, he could’ve kept me from becoming sick in the first place. I suppose I could even say that God could’ve kept anything like sickness from existing. Why did he or does he not?
I believe a lot of folks, especially well-taught Christians would quickly give this answer: “SIN!” That’s why you’re sick.
There are two possible meanings intended by this answer. The first of these intentions is that “you have sinned specifically and God is punishing you with an illness.”
Well, I suppose that’s possible other than the fact that I’m one of his children and all of the punishment he had for me was given to his son on the cross. You may rather say that he is allowing me to be sick to bring about some greater quality in me or make me more like him. Okay. Maybe.
The second possible meaning or intention of the sin answer is that sin brought about many things in God’s creation which have distorted it’s goodness and my illness is merely a casualty of sin in this way. In my opinion, this does too much to ignore God’s sovereignty. God may have cursed the world at the fall, but it is not as if he is sitting back and letting the world spin on its own. Not even a sparrow falls that he doesn’t know about. How is it he missed this sniffing little child with a splitting headache?
I’m not sure about the sin (pad) answer, but I believe the real answer at least goes deeper than that.
Have you ever thought about this? Maybe God allows us to be sick so that we will long to be better. Maybe God even gives us the grace of a runny nose so that we will wish to be better. When you’re deathly ill, what is the one thing you wish the most? It is to be better. Not only do we want to be better now, we all wish, hope, look forward to a time when we will no longer be able to be sick. In fact, we all long for the coming day when sickness will no longer exist. Oh how I wish for that now!
There is coming a day when there will be no more sickness. There is coming a day when there will be no more runny noses, headaches, sinus infections, flu, pneumonia, CPD, lung cancer, etc. Yes my friend, there is coming that day. I have not lost sight of that, even though I get caught up in todays problems and tomorrows worries, I remember. Even though I think of the fine-tuning argument or Calvinism, I recall my hope. I long for the day with no sickness, and this is where the pad answer becomes more relevant, because I long for a day with no sin.
Sin is the real sickness that I need rid of. It is the fatal disease that I was brought back to life from but still suffer in. It is the cancer that eats at me while I am being made new. It is the chronic illness in which I have already been cured. Oh, how Iong for my Physician! How I need his cure! That longing, that hope is where I must abide tonight as I struggle to sleep.
It is true for all people. Each of us is sick, and when we are sick, we know it. Not only is each person aware of their acute illness, each one knows intrinsically, that it’s not supposed to be this way. There is an awareness deep inside of us that there is something better. There has to be. There ought to be. We want it, but at what price? Our autonomy? Our happiness? Our fun? So then, some deny the cure. Some refuse the treatment. But it’s still coming, that day, at least for those who have been given the cure.
I think that those very longings, that reminder of hope, are one of the very reasons God sends us the grace of sickness. It is because, without the reminder of my deteriorating condition, I would race through life with no finish line in view. I would be happy placing my hope in my accomplishments, rather than what he has already accomplished. I would have nothing to wait on and lose myself in life’s busyness. That’s it! Sickness is grace! The grace that is sufficient comes to us as it did to Paul, in the suffering of our state of sin, under the complete authority of God.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come soon…