In Where Is God When It Hurts? Philip Yancy explores this subject. He writes: “For example, suffering can:
1) Refine our faith (1 Peter 1:5-7)
2) Make us mature (James 1:2-4)
3) Allow us opportunity to display the works of God (John 9:1-3)
4) Conform us to Christ’s image (Romans 8:28,29)
5) Produce in us perseverance and character (Rom. 5:3-5).”
The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus: “He learned obedience from what he suffered” (5:8). If Jesus could benefit from suffering, surely that possibility exists for us also.
In Human Pain, C. S. Lewis wrote that “the Perfect Man brought to Gethsemane a will, and a strong will, to escape suffering and death, if such escape were compatible with the Father’s will, combined with a perfect readiness for obedience if it were not.” His book concludes with these words by another author: “Pain provides an opportunity for heroism; the opportunity is seized with surprising frequency.”
Very often pain and grief understandably prohibit us from seeing any good in suffering, and we may never see anything of worth in our experience. But God may indeed bring good out of it. John Perkins, a Christian civil rights proponent in Mendenhall, Miss., said, “What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger.”
Peter gave these words of challenge: “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19).
Also know that we live in a time of partial fulfillment of God’s promises. Not every sick person in Israel or in the early church was healed. Those who were eventually died. Elisha, who raised the dead, eventually got sick and died: “Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died” (2 Kings 13:14). Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he died years later.
The time of full healing of all diseases—permanently—is still future. Read Isaiah 35:5-6; Revelation 21:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; and Romans 8:18.
Jesus healed many people. And the disciples and apostles possessed unique power or, better, could call on God’s unique power, to heal (Acts 3:16, Acts 9:33-35). But recognize that not every Christian was healed of every disease, that every Christian died from something eventually, and that those powers may have been reserved for that very special age in which the Father honored the Son (His healings were called “signs” pointing to Jesus), giving His church a firm—but not repeated—foundation. Jesus healed and gave the 70 and the 12, His disciples and His apostles, power to heal, but that may have been for that critical time in His plan.
The last page in Joni Eareckson Tada’s A Step Further ends with these words: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 21:4; 22:20-21).” Then at the bottom of the page there is a drawing done by Joni, with the pen held in her mouth, of a wheelchair, empty, having a “for sale” sign attached. It’s no longer needed. Remember that picture. Buy the book, just so you can be reminded of the Lord’s, and our, final victory.
Trusting God in Sickness
This suggestion applies to life at all times, under all conditions: Trust the Lord. Do not rely on your limited understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Remember, however hard it may be, that “God is love.” “Jesus loves me, this I know … .” The cross is the pledge of His love. He is indeed a God of power and of love, who can and does work all things in accord with His will.
Even in the midst of our suffering, believe it or not, the Lord is in control. Job told his wife, in effect, “When we receive nice, pleasant things, we say they came from the Lord. Shouldn’t we also believe that God is in control when things are not going well?” Paul wrote to the Philippians (1:29-30) that the God who so graciously grants us faith, also grants suffering; He is a God of grace, even in our affliction.
My drooping eyes affected from Myasthenia Gravis on the first week of its strike! My son and I on our Bali Trip March 2013. Later my doctor is sending me to Bangkok for Thymectomy in Bkk Chula Hospital in April!