I wrote this earlier this year in June. I was inspired while out walking and listening to the audio book of The Cost Of Discipleship by Dietrich Boenhoffer.
For my non-Christian followers this may not feel like it directly applies to where you are in your Lyme journey, but I hope you will still find encouragement.
I have been reflecting, reading and meditating on a few things over the past few days and (hopefully) have some things to share that God is teaching me about some subjects we have hit on including suffering and God’s will.
We are multi-generations in now in our country to a very western (and worldly) mindset regarding our “rights” as human beings; the right to comfort, contentment, worldly pleasures, wealth and prosperity. I think this culture has ingrained itself into our way of thinking in ways we probably do not entirely comprehend. We as Christians are called to a different view, but in the same way the kind of family a person is brought up in effects the way they view the world and their heavenly Father, so to does our culture do that to us in how we approach interpreting all things having to do with God. I think because of this it is easy to come at scripture with a “here and now” mindset, especially when it comes to what we expect from God.
I have especially been going deep into how this effects the way we view God’s will and what we are to expect in this life with our walk with Jesus. In the gospel Jesus said :
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. Matt 10:34.
“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; Luke 12:51
New Covenant verses on suffering below* Jesus in His ministry on earth did heal, but this was in accordance with the revelation of His glory and revealing Himself as the Son of God. All of Jesus miracles were much more about the glory of God than they were about the comfort of the healed. Even with Lazarus Jesus says of his sickness “This sickness is not end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son Of God may be revealed”. In these verses we are told the point and purpose of healing in these earthen vessels are for the purpose and glory of God. This is not only true in the time of Jesus but is still true today. That being said, Jesus was also very clear that entering into a relationship with Him is to take a walk into death…to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him. We enter into death and new life along with Jesus and we are called into the privilege to suffer as Jesus suffered. But nowhere in Scripture does Jesus tell us we will be free from pain and suffering and sickness in this life, quite the opposite. Which is why the New Testament is full of passages on sufferings, trials, enduring, and bearing all things … in joy.
Going back to God’s will; taking into account all of the above, we are to pray for healing and told to pray for the sick and He can and does heal, and in those times He miraculously heals we can trust that He is brought the most glory in that situation. For ourselves we have renewed faith, we give testimony to the unsaved and Jesus is revealed that He is still the ultimate Healer. I am a firm believer in the possibility of miracles. But if we err on the side of believing that healing and wholeness (in the strictly physical sense) is always God’s will we can then fall prey to spending our lives in disappointment, doubt, indecision, unfulfilled and lacking joy….which we are told we have in Christ in the midst of suffering. I think also if we believe that healing is always God’s will this aligns our minds not with Christ but instead with a world system that would tell us we are entitled to our own personal comforts and our selfish needs being met in this life. As it was brought up in last week’s discussion we have the promise of perfect and glorified bodies but not in this life. God’s will in every situation is unclear most of the time as to the particulars because we are not God and we have no foreknowledge of which outcome will bring Him the most glory and us the most good.
Going into Scripture of how we are told to pray we have the example from Jesus Himself “Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. But what does that mean? What God has been laying on my heart that coming at a passage like this we can err in bringing along our western mindset and include ourselves in the equation; that in heaven there is no death or pain or suffering so that must mean we are entitled to that on earth. I believe that this is completely out of context the same way that 1Peter 2:24 is used out of context for faith healing when that verse has nothing to do with our physical bodies, in that this passage is not about us but rather about the Lord being glorified as He is in heaven.
Another danger zone I think we are more prey to falling into with believing God’s will is about comfort and healing on this earth is that this view can come dangerously close to aligning itself with universal spiritualism and a new-age “christianity” that is in our midst and growing, that focuses on world peace, love, healing and prosperity. This may be a stretch, but the spirit of anti- (in opposition to) Christ is alive and well today, and this spirit of false Christ will/does look good. It is the spirit of love without judgement, God in all things, acceptance without repentance…It is a spirit of the here and now instead of the glory that is to come and it is all about us and our happiness instead of Christ glorified. (Thank you Marcie for the reminder of the dangers of the antichrist, you rock). And going back to the words of Jesus that He came to bring division, that we will suffer for Christ, and that this life will not be free from pain and tribulation…we need to be steadfast and alert and stay in His Word not to fall prey the the false Jesus’s that will promise health and wholeness, peace and prosperity.
I think there is great power in this! In knowing that we have the power of Christ in us to overcome all sickness and tribulation in knowing we have something far more valuable, that joy in suffering is ours to claim as part of our inheritence in Christ, a part of what we can have while in earthen vessels. There is so much richness here to be learned and explored. And of course as always there is great joy and power when Jesus does choose to miraculously heal, He still does and still will. The treasure is in knowing that there is a miracle in the healing and an equal and no lesser miracle in the overcoming. For we are first and foremost overcomers in Christ.
To God be the glory forever and ever amen.
* Romans 5:3-5
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
1 Peter 4:12-19
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. …
2 Corinthians 4:8-10
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies