I’ve been very honest with you all about my thoughts, opinions, questions, and doubts I’ve dealt with over the years in regards to God and sickness, and I admit, there’s been a lot. After I was diagnosed with my third chronic illness and forced to quit work, I spent over a year studying Scripture trying to figure out what God was doing in my suffering. Once I finally realized that my definition of healing and my understanding of Scripture was wrong, I still couldn’t help but feel dejected, as I imagine many of you were after reading last week’s devotion. As wonderful as it is that God cares about our heart, mind, and soul, that doesn’t take away the frustration of living with a chronic illness. I admit after finally coming to terms with what God has to say about healing and sickness, I still couldn’t help but ask the ever-present question since I was diagnosed with lupus, “Why me?”
I know from talking with many of you that I’m not the only one to ask this question. To be honest, I think it’s normal when a crisis happens in our lives to wonder why we have to go through difficulties. Whether it’s a chronic illness, a broken family, or financial difficulties, the temptation to throw our hands up in aggravation and shout “why me” is at the forefront of our thoughts. Personally, I asked God this question countless times over the course of several months. After months of fighting with myself and God, I heard a gentle whisper in my soul late one night saying, “Why not you?”
It’s a difficult question, but it made me stop and think. And once again, I found myself learning some uncomfortable truths from God’s Word. We want God to take away all our problems and fix everything, but we also want freewill to do whatever we desire. We want the best of both worlds, and we can’t have it. God loves us so much, when He created the earth He chose to give us freewill, meaning we can choose to murder someone or we can choose to worship God. We can choose to be kind and considerate, or we can choose to be rude and say whatever we want without thinking about how our actions affect others. God made us different when He gave us freewill. Unlike animals who have certain parameters and rules they must live by, people aren’t confined in such a way. A bear must hunt in order to eat, and he will because it’s been predetermined that’s what a bear will do. Unlike a Disney movie, a bear won’t suddenly decide he wants to be a vegan and eat salad for the rest of his life, because it isn’t in his nature. However, we have been gifted with a life of freewill. We can choose to do whatever we want in this life and unfortunately, we chose sin, which made this world broken. When Adam and Eve chose to willingly turn their backs against what God said, our world became broken, meaning our world was no longer perfect. Brokenness comes in all forms, and chronic illness is simply one of them.
Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that having a relationship with Jesus meant we didn’t have to suffer. Yet because we live in a broken world, we aren’t exempt. The only way for us to no longer endure brokenness is to no longer live on this earth, meaning we’re dead and in Heaven. So, where’s the hope if we’re going to be exposed to sickness?
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that one of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Daniel 3, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were thrown into a fiery furnace for not denouncing their faith. The reason I love this passage is twofold. First and foremost, we see in verses 24-25 they weren’t alone in their suffering. Jesus joined them in the fire. Therein lies the great promise to those who have a relationship with Christ. Yes, we will endure suffering and hardship in this life just like everyone else, but we don’t walk through our trials alone. We have been promised that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). Because of Jesus willingly choosing to die on the cross so that we might have a relationship with Him, we are offered comfort only God can give to His children who are going through hard times. He may not take away the suffering, but He does ease the burden. Even better, God will use our trials and turn them into something good. One of my favorite verses in all of the Bible is found in Daniel 3:27 when it says, “The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.”
Talk about a testimony! Have you ever been around someone who radiates joy despite all they’ve had to endure? Compared to someone who is negative and bitter, the difference is astounding. People are drawn to those who have hope and joy even though their lives are challenging, and because God made it possible for us to have a relationship with Him, we get to be those people who point others to God no matter what. I want that more than anything else! Yes, I have three chronic illnesses, but it doesn’t have to destroy me because my God is bigger than any fiery furnace this life throws at me.
God is walking with us through the fire! Do you see Him? Are you looking? More importantly, do you smell like smoke?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
© March 16, 2017