When you are sick, you understand how important being healthy really is.
This year, we’ve thought a lot about sickness, suffering and physical healing, because, Marda had cancer. And now it looks like she is cancer-free. So we are really, really grateful. But I know that time for us, reminded us, of how important an issue, physical health actually is.
When you are healthy, and you have always been healthy, it’s easy to take being healthy for granted, but when you are sick, and especially if you have been sick for a long time, or you are sick, with a serious disease, being healthy becomes, something that seems really, really important.
But at the same time, even if you are NOT sick right now, most of us have been alive long enough, to know this is an important subject, for all of us to consider, no matter how we are feeling.
In fact, even the world, even, unbelievers, are usually pretty interested in the whole subject of sickness, suffering and especially healing. It’s actually pretty amazing how much effort and money, people have put it into, figuring out ways to keep us alive, as humans. We have figured out how to cut people open, take their heart out, and replace it with another one.
You go into a good hospital, and you look at some of those machines, they have for testing people, it’s amazing. They put Marda into this one machine, where they injected her with a certain chemical, and then they had like a tv screen, where you could watch, where that chemical went in her body, and somehow that was supposed to help them as they went into surgery.
So people, are interested in healing, in the world. And, people are interested in the church as well. And this is a subject, that especially in the last hundred years or so, people have said a lot of things about.
One of the things we noticed, when Marda was sick, especially, was, that even in the world, so even among unbelievers, when it comes to the whole subject of sickness, and health, people have lots of different opinions.
So, we are going to be talking about this, in the church, from the Bible, obviously, what’s God’s perspective, but even in the world, it’s not like there’s only one idea of how to be healed. Obviously! If you talk to someone who is sick, with something like cancer, they will tell you, there are all kinds of non-Christians, who are giving them, all kinds of different ideas about what they are supposed to do.
And that’s true in the church as well. For example, throughout the history of the church, there have been people who have believed you shouldn’t seek medical treatment, if you are sick.
I was reading a sermon this week, Does God still heal? That was the title. And he spoke about someone named Hobart Freeman, who for a while had been a seminary professor, but eventually started a church, and he believed, that modern medicine was an “extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic. To submit to a doctor’s remedies, Freeman believed, was to expose oneself to demonic influence.” And so, if a lady in his church was pregnant, he told her she had to give birth at home, she couldn’t go to a hospital, or be treated by a doctor, and a lot of people died.
When Marda got cancer, there was a lady she met, who said she was a Christian, and, who had the same kind of cancer as Marda, but she thought, she got cancer because of sin, and not just any sin, she thought she was supposed to do all the sacrifices that were in the Old Testament, and because she wasn’t doing them, she thought she was sinning, and so she wouldn’t take chemotherapy. She thought the answer was to start doing the Old Testament rituals again.
And, there are others of course, who take it to another level, and say, it’s not Christian, to be sick. Ever. And so, if you are sick, it’s always because of some problem in you, usually, a problem, like a lack of faith.
I mean, there are all kinds of different perspectives.
This is a subject people are interested in, and this is a subject people, have a lot of things to say about.
I was reading one pastor who wrote.
“Some say God wants to heal everybody. Others admit God sometimes chooses not to heal, for His own purpose. Some equate sickness with sin, others stop short of that, but still find it hard to explain why spiritually strong people get sick. Some people just flat out blame the devil, and they think if they can tie the devil up in a knot and send him off to Tibet or something, everybody will get well.”
There are lot of people, saying a lot of things, about this whole subject of sickness, suffering, and healing, and obviously, we can all see how easy it is, for all they are saying, to create all kinds of questions, there are a lot of people who misunderstand what the Bible says, and so I want to go back to the Bible, and help you develop a biblical theology of healing, I guess you could say, by just looking at God’s answers, to several pretty common questions, Christians, ask, when they are sick.
How should I feel about being sick?
Or more specifically, is it wrong for me to be sad that I am sick?
Which, I don’t know.
Maybe sounds like a weird question to a non-Christian.
But as Christians, we are not just living our life for us, we are living our lives for God, and so no matter what situation we are in, we are thinking what does God want from us, and so it makes sense for us, when we are sick, to be thinking first, how does God want us to respond, and since the most common way to respond when you are sick, is just to hate it, and be sad, it makes sense for us, to wonder, is that a wrong response?
Is it wrong for me to be sad that I am sick?
Now, of course.
To be able to answer the question you have to make sure you understand the question, and that means, you have to understand what the person who is asking means exactly when they talk about being sad.
The word sad, could mean different things.
For some people, sad is a code word for complaining, being bitter, and angry.
And so when they say is it wrong for me to be sad that I am sick, they mean is it wrong for me to complain that I am sick, to be bitter at God that I am sick, to be angry at the world that I am sick, and the answer to that question, is of course, it is wrong, because, those kinds of responses are violations of biblical commands.
But, being sad doesn’t necessarily mean those things.
You can be sad without complaining, being bitter or angry.
And there are a lot of biblical proofs for that.
The first and most obvious one, that Jesus himself was sad.
“And taking with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.’ Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death, remain here, and watch with me.’”
And it shouldn’t surprise us to see that Jesus was sad.
Because Isaiah prophecied about Jesus in Isaiah 53, verse 3.
And you know how he described him?
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”
There are all kinds of different reasons, for sorrow.
So, there’s a sorrow that comes into your life as a result of your sin.
Psalm 32:10, says “Many are the sorrows of the wicked.”
And sometimes that sorrow is a consequence of the sin itself, God packs the sin with sorrow, so that you will come back to Jesus, but sometimes that sorrow is part of the sin itself, you are sorrowing because you are sinning, like, you want something and you have made it an idol, and you are not getting it, and so you are sad, and that’s not obviously, a good kind of sorrow.
There’s a sorrow that comes into your life as a result of your sin, and there’s a sorrow that comes from not believing the truth. As well. So there’s inappropriate sorrow.
I think of how Jesus told the disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.”
Sometimes we are sad, when we don’t have to be, or we sad, in a way that we shouldn’t be, because we aren’t believing what the Bible teaches us about God or the Christian life.
But there’s also sorrow, that’s totally appropriate.
Like, maybe you are experiencing sorrow over other people’s sin.
This is the way Paul felt about his brothers and sisters who were rejecting Christ. He says in Romans 9:1,2. “I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit – that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” about that whole issue.
And there’s a sorrow that comes over your own sin.
It’s like Paul in 2 Corinthians 7, he’s talking about a letter he had written the Corinthians, that made them sad, and he says I am not sorry I wrote the letter, even though it made you sad, though I was a little sorry at first, but I am rejoicing now, not just because you were so sad, but because you had a godly sorrow, over your sin, and that godly sorrow, produced life transformation.
So I am saying there’s different kinds of sorrow, of being sad, and there’s some being sad, that’s not good, and then there’s other times being sad is good, and there are definitely times when it’s totally appropriate to be SAD about being sick and seeing people suffer.
In fact, we as Christians, can be sad, in a way that non-Christians, can’t, or at least shouldn’t.
Let me take you a little deep for a moment.
If I am non-Christian, as I look at the world, I don’t have a way the world is supposed to be. Do you understand? If we are all products of evolution, and everything is here by chance, there’s no way the world is supposed to be, the world just is, and so, while I might not like being sick or dying, I can’t really say it is a problem, because, it’s just the way the world is.
It’s like tigers getting sick.
Or a bug dying.
Ok, that’s not good for them, but that’s just the way it works.
As a Christian, though, physical sickness and suffering is a real problem, because, I know how God made the world to work, and I know, how God wants the world to work.
If I look back to creation. God’s design. No sickness. No death.
And if I look forward to new creation. What do I find?
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Sickness, and suffering, and death, it’s not just a problem for me personally, it’s a consequence, I know ultimately, of man’s rebellion against God.
A long time ago, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and that’s a book that teaches the basics of the Christian faith simply, for children, asked:
Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
What happened to people as a result of Adam’s sin?
The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
And you see there are two categories, they use to describe what happened to the world, sin and misery. You are not necessarily sick because you at that moment are sinning, but, all sickness is a result of way back at the beginning, man sinning.
And of course, there’s an appropriate way to grieve over that.
There’s an inappropriate way too.
Paul says I don’t want you to grieve over death like those who have no hope. But, we grieve. It’s important to understand as we continue to look at what the Bible teaches about sickness and suffering, that it is not always wrong to be sad, you are sick.