I am sure that I am not the only one that struggles with the fact that Christians suffer. Why is it that a family that is serving in missions are dealing with a wife dying from breast cancer? Or why are godly churches not able to afford to keep their pastor and must shut their church?
Or why are Christian families struggling to pay bills? Why does a seminary family, who are training to spread the gospel face intense health issues?
Count it pure joy
Shouldn’t believers be entitled to a get out of trial free card? The challenges I hear and personally face make me question if we should be exempted from life’s trials. However, examining my Bible, I find no evidence that we are to be excused from trials, in fact we should expect them. James chapter 1 verse 1 tells us to “Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many sorts, for it for the testing of your faith.” Therefore, not only are we to expect trials, but we are to be joyful through them.
How can we be joyful when we get news that we are sick or a loved one has died? Biblically, joy isn’t a happy clappy ‘oh life is great’ type of joy. It is a joy that comes from the Lord, knowing that no matter what the outcome is going to be the Lord is in control, that He is working out His plan, for His glory and that He is going to sustain us and help us through each hurdle along the way.
Contrary to how we often view trials when we go through them, they actually cause us (or should cause us) to depend more on the Lord, by growing our faith and refining us. Just like nonbelievers, we will go through life’s challenges, but we have the Lord to rely on for peace, hope and strength during these battles. Through all this, we can trust that the Lord is using it for His glory, even when we don’t understand why.
Sin is not the cause of all illness
If you are one of the many people going through a difficult trial, I want to encourage you that the Lord hasn’t left you and it most likely isn’t something you have done. Yes, first confess your sins and examine your heart, because some trials are the result of unconfessed sin or the result of sin. For example, if you cheat on your spouse, you may still have the consequence of an STD or a child that wasn’t planned.
On the other hand, there are some people that the Lord, in His planning, go through various trials and it has nothing to do with a sinful life. In John chapter 9 verses 1-4 the disciples asked whose fault it was that the man was born blind. Jesus responds, “neither this man nor his parents sinned… but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John chapter 9 verses 3-4) As is evident through this verse, God has greater purposes for things than our human and rational understanding can’t even comprehend.
Hence, in your circumstance, the Lord is working and there are many reasons God may be allowing this situation, but it will ultimately be for His glory and your good.
I have a friend, who when she was a new believer, walked into a store and someone had the audacity to ask, “what kind of sin did you commit to look like that?” My friend has a form of palsy and it left her with the inability for her legs to function properly.
However, as the Bible teaches, it was not her sin, or her parents sin, that caused this health issue, rather the Lord is using this ailment for His glory, through this beautiful woman. Despite this health problem, she is the most joyful woman you will ever meet and is an incredible testimony about the joy we can experience as believers, no matter what.
The Lord doesn’t promise all of us will be healed on earth
It frustrates me that we have people professing to be Christians and yet walk around telling people they are not healed because of their lack of faith. It isn’t your lack of faith that isn’t healing you. Maybe the Lord sees that you, or others, will be more sanctified and Him glorified through your trial. Look at Paul, a great apostle and man of faith, who was struck with an illness (Galatians chapter 4 verses 13-15).
Here Paul tells us that he had a physical condition, but why didn’t he just use his faith to heal himself? Well, the Lord used the illness to bring Himself glory and for Paul to be taken care of by the people of Galatia.
While people like to claim the verse in Isaiah chapter 53 verse 2 that by “Your stripes we are healed”, context is key and if you examine this verse it isn’t talking about physical healing but rather God saving us from sin; the true ailment that kills us all and He has saved us from that. We can find joy and hope and peace in knowing that one day the Lord will wipe away every tear, death and sickness will be gone, but until then we need to cling to our Lord and trust in His sovereign plan.
Genevieve Wilson is a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.