This blog will be a bit different to others I have written. In previous posts I have sought to bring a new perspective on some spiritual truth or a reminder of one that perhaps seems to have been forgotten at the time of writing.
In this one, I fear that I will be posting far more unanswered questions that providing answers. The questions are a result of me currently struggling with seemingly diametric truths about what I believe to be true.
The struggle isn’t new. As a family we have been walking a journey which has seemed unfair, difficult, frustrating and, as a parent heart-breaking. From the passing of both parents so close together, to the chronic illness of a daughter who has now been unable to attend school, or do anything that young teenagers enjoy for over a year, I think it is fair to say that this is not the path we would have chosen. When the doctors say that there really isn’t anything that can be done to help, or don’t really seem to ‘get it’, it should be comforting to know that our faith gives us assurance that we are connected to the Great Physician and therefore He will sort it out.
And we are comforted by that, and we do believe that He will.
But the waiting is hard. There have been, there are, and there will be tears along the way.
I was recently inspired by the following lyrics from a song by Jason Upton.
‘what’s amazing to me about a man like you
Is that you raised the dead
But had to suffer too
You see, I believed that God can and does heal today. You can try and convince me otherwise but won’t be able to. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I firmly believe that Jesus meant it when He said that we that believe would do the things He did, and greater things that that too. I believe that He raised the dead, healed all that came to Him, confounded the religious rulers of the day with His interpretation of the scriptures. He had access to the full storehouses of heaven, what is more He knew it. He was God, here on earth in flesh.
And yet He suffered. He had nowhere to lay His head. During His ministry years He was pursued by men who wanted Him dead. When He was finally arrested, He was subjected to the cruellest torture and death known at the time or since.
It is easy to see Jesus as someone who came to earth to show us the way, yet not grasp the fact that He understands that we are struggling along the way. That He couldn’t understand because He had it easy, because He was God.
That isn’t the example that we read about in the Gospels. Here we see a man who was despised and rejected. One that was ‘acquainted’ with suffering. If we are looking for the ultimate example of one who knows what a difficult life is like, we need look no further.
As humans we have a template of what is good and what isn’t. We are pretty much universally agreed that sickness, illness and death are bad. Good health, joy and long life are good. We know that God is good, and therefore the bad things don’t sit well with what we know of His character. If God loves the world as much as the bible says He does (and to demonstrate this love, sent His only Son to die in order that we might have life) it seems inconsistent that He would allow illness in those who love Him and ask for that illness to go. Yet we still see sickness and death. Hospitals are full. Pandemics are sweeping across the globe. Where is God in all this.
Eminent theologians have sought to comment on this over the years. Opinion ranges from a cessationist viewpoint (God set it all in motion then stepped back and let us get on with it) to sickness is God’s judgement on the world who do not follow in His ways. My issue with that particular one is that why do those who do follow His ways still suffer? For those for whom anything not bowing to the name of Jesus when commanded to is simply not contemplated, there is little or no comment.
There are variations of these extremes across the board and denominational spectrum, but when it all comes down to it I think it is fair to say that our best guess is that suffering and pain breaks the heart of the Father even more than it breaks ours. There will be justice for what is suffered here on earth, but we may have to wait until eternity to see it. (I suspect that once there we won’t be quite as concerned with it as we are now.)
The bible says that ‘He works all things together for good’. The best thing we can do is look for the good in all that we experience. To do that, it is very likely that we will have to put aside our preconceptions of how things ‘should’ be and accept how they are.
Then ask Him – how is He making this beautiful? Especially if it doesn’t feel beautiful.
There are countless podcasts, videos and books available that will tell us ‘what to do to get our healing’. Each will tell some sort of formula – pray more, fast more, worship more, and then you will receive your breakthrough.
I believe that breakthrough is possible for all situations we find ourselves in but I also believe that formula is no replacement for relationship. Jesus healed all that came to Him not because He knew which prayer to pray, or when to lay hands or simply command, but because He lived His life in constant connection with His Father.
Without offering that as simply another formula to be tried, I wonder if concentrating on our relationship with Him rather than trying to solve our problems is the answer that we have been missing for so long.
I am certain that if we do that, while our situation may not change, our outlook on it most definitely will.
link to song that inspired the post – Jason Upton ‘Hammer and an awkward nail’ https://youtu.be/KxyAes7XDqY