I have heard lately, that my tragedies, illnesses, abuse etc. are cast upon me because maybe I am not virtuous enough? Maybe I am not “Godly enough”? Possibly I am cursed or being put upon because I do not have enough faith or pray enough. A friend of mine had someone stop them at Wal-mart and tell them they were going to “cast away the devil in them” because he carries a cane. I have had people say that they want to “lay hands upon me and pray upon me, because I am afflicted”, they feel that their prayers will “cast out evil spirits, or evilness that has caused my afflictions”. There has been another who told me that I don’t “have enough God in my life” and therefore I have “so many tragedies” and it is because I “have not forgiven my abusers in this life”…..Sometimes I feel that over zealous -fundamentalist Christians, who are excited about God’s miracles, try to “be God” in peoples lives. For instance, I heard about an 18 year old girl who went to a Christian camp and was told that her younger brother need not have died from Cancer, if only the family had more or even enough faith! WHAT??? You NEVER know who is going to be stricken with an affliction, an illness, disease or grief. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you say. I am a “Chemo Angel”. I get assigned a person who’s going through chemo therapy and I send them small gifts, cards of cheer. Right now I have a small, 3 year old girl, with “Langerhans cell Histiocytosis (LCH) “, a form of childhood cancer. Could anyone say that she is ill because she doesn’t have enough Faith or that she’s done something to wrong God and he is “disappointed” in her? Can you say that she has cancer for the last 2 out of 3 years of her young life, because her family doesn’t have enough faith? NO!! That would be heretic in the very least!
First of all, none of the above statements about illness being for a lack of Faith, are true. I believe in my whole heart and soul that I am a God loving and God fearing believer of Jesus Christ. I believe in One God, the Father and the creator of Heaven and Earth.I believe in one being with the Father and through him all things were made. I believe that Jesus Christ his only son came down from Heaven and suffered, died and was buried. I believe that on the 3rd day he rose up into Heaven, with his fresh wounds in full view and he did not try to hide them. Jesus suffered more than anyone has ever suffered. He suffered and was persecuted all of his life and most of all at Cavalry. He was called a “fake” and much worse. He was abandoned, denied, and he was physically and verbally abused. He never tried to hide these facts. They are not a cause of shame for Jesus. He went up into Heaven on the 3rd day and rose from the dead, in fulfillment of the scriptures. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, God. He did not hide his wounds as he appeared to the Apostles and showed them his fresh wounds. He is seated with God the father and his wounds were not healed. Jesus had more faith than any human that ever lived. He most certainly was and is both God and Man but His suffering was not taken away because He lacked enough faith. No,actually, “the author of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:12..*****SOMETIMES it is because we HAVE FAITH that we SUFFER…LIKE JESUS DID!!!
Look at Job and all that he went through! Job was persecuted because of his faith in God. Satan told God “take away his good life and see how much faith he really has?” Job was given boils and lost his 10 children and so much more happened to him that would be just horrific for any of us to live with. Job was given an “affliction”, not because he was “cursed”. Not because he did not have “enough” of God or praying in his life. Job was given these things along with his afflictions, BECAUSE of his belief in our Lord God. Three of Job’s friends came to comfort him at the beginning of his worst pain and loss! They were silent for 7 days. Once they began to talk they ruined everything. All 3 of them in different ways hurt Job deeply and accused Job of sinning. They were sure that Job was sick and suffering because of the sins he had committed during his life. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar had believed and then told Job that “righteous people don’t suffer.“ They figured if Job was suffering (and he was suffering horribly), he must’ve committed a terrible sin, secretive sin. His friends told him to admit his sins to God and then “he will make you well and give you back your health”. Job always continued to say that he had done nothing sinful or wrong. He didn’t feel that he deserved such an attack from God but refused to shake his faith in a merciful God; because he had not sinned and he had great faith. Job and millions of other faithful believers, may come to believe that we are afflicted or ill, well within the intent, will and purpose of God. He is the Artist and we are the clay. It does not say anywhere in the Bible that a lack of healing is equal to a lack of faith!!! God can choose not to heal the faithful, but it is not connected to a lack of faith.
We need to examine our own hearts if we are stricken with illness. Anyone who has sinned, or who has not been obedient, should pray and ask God for forgiveness; whether sick or well. We should all make the changes that God asks us to make through prayer. The sick and well alike should search their hearts and also allow God into their hearts! BUT we can have a sin-free heart and soul, a super clear conscience to stand before Jesus Christ; and still be sick!!!!. It is cruel, unloving, unGodly, unkind and UNBIBLICAL to say that someone has a lack of faith and is ill, or stricken with loss and tragedy in life because they don’t have enough prayer, faith or enough love of Jesus Christ and/or God. Many people in the Bible’s stories who were sick, weren’t ill because of their own sins….NO…They were followers of Jesus Christ and they were very faithful. God, for unknown reasons, possibly many different reasons, had it in his plan that some must endure physical illness. Most of the faithful followers who were ill, were afflicted due to their great Faith and not for a “lack of Faith”. I cannot think of any person in the Bible who is a follower and believer in Jesus Christ, who suffers or suffered, and their lack of Faith was to blame. In John 11 1:14 you will see these words: “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” These do not sound like words about illness for lack of Faith! Also…think about a poor Sudanese person, ravaged with illness throughout his/her body because they are so malnourished. They had no way to get the food that their body needed to keep the illnesses away. What if they heard these words? How do you think that would make them feel? I wonder how many Christians, like me, have suffered or are suffering in despair because someone has said such cruel words of condemnation to them?
Having Faith pretty much assures us that we WILL suffer. Look at Paul in the Bible, who had great faith in Jesus Christ and he had even seen the resurrected Christ. This did not reduce his sufferings at all!! . In 2 Corinthians, it states some of the sufferings he endured, “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Cor 6:4-5). Paul suffered so much, “yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:9-10). Here Paul had so many negative and horrible things happen to him! He suffered: beatings, imprisonment, was in riots, had hunger, sleeplessness, was beaten, felt sorrowful and he was poor! He had nothing but possessed everything due to the faith he had in his ministry, his future deliverance, and in Jesus Christ!. I believe that our sufferings keep us in prayer more often. I believe also that illness and suffering cause us to depend on God more frequently and thus it keeps us humble. Perhaps this is why God refused to heal Paul even though he prayed three times to have his “thorn in the flesh” removed. God didn’t tell Paul that he didn’t have enough faith but that God’s grace was enough for him. Paul says, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, [kept Paul humble] I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me [kept Paul in prayer]. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. [kept Paul dependent upon God]” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me [glorifying Christ]. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong [when he is suffering, he must depend on God Who shows Himself strong]” (2 Cor 12:7-10).
If you would like to read more about this subject in the Bible, you can find some discussions in the following places:
Psalms 71:20-21 “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.”
John 16:22 “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (Jesus’ words)”
I found this verse the most profound for my own situation. I am going to keep this one close to my lips when the tormentors try to admonish me or even make fun of me for being ill, for having been abused and for having had many tragedies in my life thus far (I am 54 yrs old). I will tell them to go to Lamentations 3:31-32 “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”