It's easy to fly past passages of Scripture like this because Paul was talking about his interactions with a specific group of people who were behaving inappropriately, but I believe there is a lesson to be learned. Anyone suffering with a chronic illness has a tendency to question God's love and faithfulness. The only problem with this is that when we question God's reason for allowing us to be sick, we often find ourselves facing a crisis of faith. For me, I came dangerously close to walking away from God after being diagnosed with a second illness, but since I live in a small Southern town and am the daughter of a pastor, I decided to keep up the appearance of being a "good Christian."
For over a year, I pretended everything about my relationship with God. I went to church, said the right things, and behaved in the proper way, but inside, I was miserable. My physical agony didn't even compare to my spiritual and emotional agony. Desperate for a little bit of peace and happiness, I finally turned to God for help. As I spent time praying and studying the Bible, I realized God doesn't want pretenders. He is only interested in the real thing - people who genuinely love God and want a relationship with Him.
So am I healed? Did my return to God take away my pain and suffering? Although I wish I could say yes, the answer is no. I still live with two chronic illnesses, and I can't answer the "why" question we have all wondered at some time or another, but this I know: I would much rather be sick and have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ than to be healthy and have a pretend relationship with Him. It took two illnesses for me to finally understand this truth, but I can honestly say I am happier today than I was when I had no illness at all.
How about you? Are you a master pretender, or do you have a real relationship with Christ? The real thing won't necessarily change your situation, but I guarantee it will change you. So what have you got to lose?
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." ~ Romans 15:13 (NASB)
(c) July 30, 2012