Saturday, January 9, 2010

Struggling with disease and death

While I have stood helplessly by and watched my precious sister destroyed by cancer, as well as attempts by the medical community to control it, I have had lots of questions.

There are those who urge me to believe God will heal her. Speak only positive things with regard to everyone around me. To speak any negative is to open the door for Satan to move in and destroy me or my loved ones. Pray with faith…without ceasing. I can become burdened with the load this belief calls me to carry. I must constantly weigh what I am saying, what I am thinking. Where does the statement of Jesus fit in: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30. If so much is my responsibility, I cannot rest. So I find this a very burdensome walk.

How much value does God put on the physical life we live in this world? Paul discusses the dilemma of whether living or dying is best in Philippians 1. In 2 Corinthians 4, he talks of the treasure in jars of clay (our bodies house the treasure of God’s spirit alive in us). As long as there is work for us to do while in the jars of clay, then God will leave us here. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul describes the groaning of living in an earthly tent that is decaying and awaiting a building from God, an eternal house in heaven. From this, I see no directive to cling to our earthly bodies, pleading, begging, and even demanding for them to be healed.

One of my most enlightening moments was when I watched a video by Andy Stanley from his Defining Moments series. It dealt with Mark 2 where Jesus heals a paralytic man. In the midst of this teaching, Stanley asks the question “Why did Jesus heal?” He goes on to explain that in every case of healing, the people would eventually die – it was a temporary healing. We are all destined to die…because of sin that entered the world. See the third chapter of Genesis. Sometimes God still intervenes in illnesses today and someone walks away from terminal illness or disease…but they will eventually leave this body of clay in death. According to Stanley, Jesus healed the physical to prove that He had the power over the consequences of the sin that came with the fall of man. In the case of the paralytic, He first pronounced the forgiveness of sin which was a big disappointment to the paralytic, his friends, all of the onlookers (who wanted to see a miracle), and blasphemy to the religious leaders. But in order that they would understand He had the authority to forgive sin, He demonstrated his authority by removing the consequence of sin! Hallelujah!

Stanley says that because we do not understand the concept of sin and its consequences, we shake our fists at God and scream “WHY?”. (I have done that.) And God’s reply is “I knew you would ask that. Read the beginning of my book. I explained that to you there.”

So today, I rejoice that my sister has had her sins removed FOREVER – she will never come under condemnation. We miss the awesomeness of what He has already done for us and look for temporary miracles for those who must eventually die anyway. What freedom I find in this. It does not mean I will not grieve the loss of the physical presence of my precious sister, but it means the hope of Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin and death is ours FOREVER. When this journey ends, we get to go HOME!