"You need to look in the mirror every day and say that you're healthy. If you say you'll never get better, then you never will."
"Do you believe God wants people to be sick? Sickness is all from the Devil, and if you resist the sickness, it will have to flee."
"It's curses. People can put curses on you without you knowing it."
|Do this! No, this! No, this!|
It is interesting to me how the phrases, "If you just had more faith/claimed this verse/prayed more, etc...." sound so very similar to other phrases like, "If you just tried this vitamin/herbal treatment/exercise program, etc..." All are made by people fairly certain they have the solution to my problem. Sometimes I hear things like this before the person has even bothered to ask what my illness is!
Usually I try to smile, try not to grit my teeth, and ask God for help because my spirit is not gentle when I hear the above--and if you've never thought about it, the underlying message to all of them is that this is somehow my fault. If I would just do something different, or stop doing something I am doing, everything would be better.
I think people like to think this way because, if they can decide this has happened to me because I am doing something or not doing something that they have already mastered, then there's no chance anything like this can happen to them. Other people genuinely do want to help, but, like Job's friends, they aren't thinking much about how it comes across or what is needed most (more on that Monday).
Therefore, rather than gritting my teeth, here is my official response to a few of the things we chronically ill people hear (whether directly or indirectly):
You're Exaggerating Your Symptoms to Get Attention/Excuse Laziness/Get What You Want/Etc.
I do not like being sick. I am disgusted at the idea of milking my illness for attention or using it as an excuse to be lazy or whiney, depressed or irritable. There are times when I am whiney or irritable, but as with everyone else who belongs to God, I am to see those things as sin and repent of them, rather than blame them on my circumstances and thus give them free reign.
Don't You Believe God Can Heal You?
Yes. Definitely. God could heal me. At this exact moment He could make my adrenal glands come to life and work again. He could fix my low blood sugar, remove the sensitivity from my lungs, straighten my spine and deflate the cyst in my head.
It's not a matter of me not believing He can. And it's not a matter of not asking. However, over the years as I, like Jacob, have wrestled with this illusive, sometimes painful thing called God's will, I have come to accept that perhaps me being sick is God's plan for me. I wrestle with the God of the universe, and like Jacob, God touches my body with frailty and pain, an everyday reminder that I am human and He is not. That I do not know what is best.
But isn't it true that some people are sick because of sin or lack of faith?
The Bible talks about people being sick or "sleeping"-dying because of sin. There are definitely times when people are sick as a result of sin and unbelief, yes. Are there people who need to have more faith? Yes. Are there people even who use their sickness as an excuse to sin? Certainly--just like there are people who use other circumstances (a lost job, difficult childhood, bad marriage) as an excuse to complain, judge, or get angry.
However, deciding if that is the case is not within our jurisdiction of authority. God says, "Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls" (Romans 14:4).
But the Bible says by their fruits we shall know them. Can't we judge if we see they don't have faith?
If the book of Job is any indication, no. If you do, do so knowing that the Bible very clearly states that the measure you use to judge others will be the measure used on you. If you judge by what you see, not knowing all the facts, you will be judged the same (Matthew 7:2).
God wants His children happy and well. If you aren't well, it can't be from God. It must be your fault.
Through the many times of darkness and pain, I have come to see a few things more clearly about this life of mine. When I was well, I could achieve my own driven goals and big plans. I could do amazing things for God.
Now, broken and limited, captive to a body that does not do my bidding sometimes, I have had to leave behind many of those plans and dreams and goals. They litter the trail of my adult life, like furniture and mementos and baby dolls littered the wagon trails of old, abandoned not because they were not wanted, but because survival trumped desire.
There are days I cling to God as if my life depends upon it (and it always does; it's just more obvious on those days). I am deeply aware I cannot make it through the day unless He carries me.
Dear friend, that is not a bad thing. Those days I feel good, competent, able, I tend to forget how desperately I need God. How He is the source of everything good, not me (James 1:17). This is why, as Paul did, I have come to glory in my infirmities (2 Corinthians 12:9). I don't want them. I'd much rather God remove them. But God has said no. I've asked Him many, many more times than Paul did (see 2 Corinthians 12:8), but His answer to me has been the same as His answer to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
There are days I don't "most gladly" (2 Cor. 12:9) glory in my infirmities, but I do recognize with humility that when I was well I did not honor the Lord as well as I honored myself. It is humiliating to say so, to feel the limp like Jacob and know that I need to be limited to best glorify God.
However, if that is what it takes, I accept it. If I can glorify God better through illness, I choose illness.
In conclusion, for anyone who thinks Illness Always Represents a Lack of Faith, I have 3 things to say:
1. Be careful you do not put your faith in your faith. One day, you will be faced with a trial that does not go away. Will you trust God's will, or turn from Him because He did not do what you asked?
2. Be careful you do not assume to know the mind of the Lord. He is not a genie to command according to our wishes, and if the Bible is any indication, He often does things that baffle and confuse His children, for reasons those children may not understand their entire lives.
3. Please do not judge. Job's friends were certain Job suffered due to sin. They said so over and over again. God Himself reprimanded them. God had a very important reason for Job's sufferings. His friends could have helped him endure; instead they added to his pain.
Whew. My brain is worn out. =) I hope I communicated this gently and with respect. Instead of posting tomorrow, I'm going to wait till Monday to talk more about Job's friends and what not to do when a friend is suffering.
Add your thoughts below!
Related Posts: Not Enough Faith? Is it My Fault I'm Still Sick?
If Jesus sets the Captives Free, Why won't He Deliver Me?
Joni Earekson Tada Video Visit--Don't Waste Your Suffering
Next Week's Post: Job's Friends--A Lesson in What Not To Do
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