Saturday, January 31, 2009

Unbidden Lessons

Illness always intrudes; it never ingratiates. It comes unbidden, without invitation. But as Christians, we can become more humble and faithful through it in several ways. Let me give an partial list.

1. We can realize we have not thought through out theology of sickness and healing, of God's Kingdom in relation to illness. We can change and seek the deep things of God on this by immersing ourselves in the Bible, prayer, and books on the topic.

2. We can embrace virtues we have never developed and shun vices we have identified with our very personalities. Illness requires great love and faith and patience to deal with. Anger and bitterness, while things to work through before God, are not the answer to this crucible. We may submit to lessons otherwise unlearned: love is patient, kind, and gentle. Remaining faithful to God, come what may, is a staple of the Christian life, as is lamenting the losses and crying out to God for liberation. The Psalms have so much to teach us in this.

3. Illness also opens up areas of other people's lives we may not normally see--in both the sick and the well. Unexpected kindnesses are expressed by unlikely souls. Those smitten with illness may show strength and resolve in surprising ways. And, of course, inner darkness can be revealed through chronic and acute illness as well. It is, after all, still a world groaning in anticipation of its final redemption.


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  2. It is wonderful to read that Rebecca is getting better!
    It is also wonderful to read about what suffering can bring forth in the sanctification process. I know, I have experienced all of these except maybe the last one, "the profound care and concern from borhters and sisters in Christ". I, like many others are isolated and cut off, do not have the abililty to fellowship with other Christians. We are not in a position to even make Christian friends, mingle with others on the job or in our day to day comings and goings. Our invisible disability has a way of making the person invisible to others. And frankly, though this might sound self-pitying, I am tired of trying to reach out to others, churches, family for relationship. I do thank God for my sister who also has poor health, worse than mine, and who also is a christian. We have sustained each other through some very hard times, for she also has been neglected by her church. We live in an area in California that Billy Graham has described as the darkest spiritual place he has ever preached in the world. And Greg Koukl has commented it is difficult to even have a simple rational conversation with people he has encountered here. Perhaps that is why the churches here are so sick? I see it kind of like being stationed at a remote outpost. But this is one of those things that stymies me...I am so eager to disciple someone or have an apologetics ministry, which is so desperately needed here, but my health just does not permit it.
    So you see how much this site can mean to someone like me, kind of like a soldier stationed at a remote outpost getting letters from home. It can be the highlight of their day.

  3. Corbin:

    Yes, the loneliness can be terrible. People do not understand and give up. Or, they find you depressing because they cannot fix or cheer you up and so give up. So much for "love never gives up" (1 Cor. 13).

    Although we are well supported in some ways, it is difficult for Becca to have good time with anybody except me--and I'm not adequate (although, by grace, I am getting better). The docs have been wonderful, but they are not spiritual counselors.

    I wonder how much you have read on spiritual warfare. There are silly and speculative things out there, but I can recommend:

    1. Mark Bubeck, The Adversary and Overcoming the Adversary
    2. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker
    2. Gary Kinnaman, Winning Your Spiritual Battles.

    Also, reflect on Ephesians 6:10-18. Blessings.

  4. What you said about Rebecca not having a good time with anyone but you, the same is so so true between me and my sister. It isn`t that we don`t want to or try it is just very difficult. I think it almost necessary that there be a good relationship already in place before one gets sick, those are the ones that ususally stick, while the others fall by the wayside.
    About the spiritual warfare thoughts precisely. I have been struggling with various teachings on the matter, so I thank you for your recommendations. I will check them out. I am wondering if you have read any recent writings from J.P. Moreland on this subject.

  5. I highly recommend Kingdom Triangle by JP Moreland, who is a friend of mine.