Blogging can take on so many different forms. Each one is left up to the author and it’s their decision as to the content and, perhaps more importantly, just how it comes across to whomever may happen upon it. Some write with a single purpose such as entertainment/movies, music, etc., some with multi-interests and talents and then some as simply a venue to speak about life’s experiences. While I’m not sure which category I fall into, I do know that picking and choosing the subject matter is the best part. Today, I’m going to stray from my previous formats and talk about something that truly troubles me and I am compelled to address the subject. Spoiler alert or warning, whatever you want to call it, this is about God, illness, prayer and guilt. If any of that does not pique your interest, feel free to skip right past this blog.
It’s been written in my previous blogs about my chronic illness. I don’t want to use up too much space here to go into the specifics of this disease but rather let it be the sub-context of why I’m writing. It’s been, to date, an eight year battle for me. Long for some, short for others who are dealing with the exact complexities of this condition. What I’d much rather talk about in this blog is how this illness jives with my faith.
When I first became ill all those years ago, I prayed. I mean I prayed hard! At that time I thought it was just something I came down with and would get through it, kind of like a very bad flu. When the normal period of time for a flu to come and go, came and went, I continued to pray as I sought out answers in the medical community. After all, God does indeed choose to use the knowledge of medical professionals to bless us during these times. Weeks became months and months became years. After three years, a diagnosis of Lupus (latin for wolf) was given. Rarely does a diagnosis like that come by itself. I won’t bore you with the myriad of other sub-illnesses that are a direct result of the big one. Please keep in mind, all the while I continued to pray. Others continued to pray for me. Family, friends and loved ones as well as support groups rallied around keeping me lifted in prayer.
What most baffled me was ‘why’? No, not the, “Why me?” type of why because I am a strong proponent of the, “Why NOT me?” question. Rather, why was God not answering my prayer for healing? Why was He not answering the prayers of others for me to be healed? I’ve walked with the Lord long enough to know that God answers prayers in many different ways. I also know that God allows things in our lives for many different reasons as well. There’s always an answer though one may never be revealed. Having said all that, God did indeed faithfully answer my prayer … only not exactly as I wanted, but He did answer me and I accepted His word for me and was at peace.
You see, some are never healed of their illness and for a very good reason. God’s reason, not mans. What I didn’t fully understand at the time, He made abundantly clear as time went on. I could continue to pray to my heart’s content for God to take this away but He would not do so at this time and maybe never would. He had a mightier plan in store for me and it required His strength and not my own. Through this revelation, I was drawn to the Apostle Paul who also endured a chronic illness and for a purpose. While I would never claim to be a theologian, and certainly would never claim to be a ‘Paul’, I now understood what he meant when he spoke about his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 12:5-10. No, I have not been swept up into the heavens and given revelation far beyond man’s understanding and thus need to be kept from becoming conceited. Paul’s main point that he wished man to understand was his last statement there, “For when I am weak, then I am strong”. God’s strength, not his own. He knew that no matter what he set about to do according to God’s will, it could only be done by God’s strength and people who saw him and his infirmity would see this in an obvious way.
Because I have come to accept that God has allowed this in my life, I can honestly say with a full heart that it has been a blessing to me, not a burden. Do I want it to go away? Absolutely! Will it? Not until God has used it up to fulfill His purpose in my life. I have walked in the shoes of others that I would have otherwise ignored. I have comforted those who are only starting out on the same journey because I can compassionately NOW say, “I know exactly how you feel!” I have reached out to those who need prayer because I believe with all my heart that God does still hear and answer prayer but only according to HIS will, not mine. Through the knowledge I now have, I can help others to a degree I never could have before had I not been allowed this affliction. Am I boasting? I hope so. Like Paul, I will declare, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b NIV
Now about guilt, I will say to you what I have said to my children since they were at an early enough age to understand, “Guilt doesn’t work with me … unless it’s from God!” I have had it up to HERE (now raising my hand to the top of my head) with Christians and non-Christians who bombard me, and innocent others, with the ‘name it/claim it’ or ‘blab it/grab it’ doctrine of their faith that says just have enough faith or just believe and receive the blessing of healing that God has waiting to pour out for you. “If after doing that”, they say, “you are not healed, well then obviously it’s sin, or lack of faith or the inability to truly believe He can do it.” I do believe in healing and I do believe in Jesus sitting at the right hand of God interceding for me and all those that cry out to Him. But I do know that God does not, I repeat, DOES NOT heal everyone. And when He does not, it’s for a reason and what a Christian should do is ask, seek and knock until God reveals His answer. If you know in your heart that God has placed this trial in your life for a reason then it would serve you, and I, well to heed exactly what He is telling us. I ask, “Where are the sermons on this?! Where are all the radio or televangelists speaking this truth?!” God’s word spends much time speaking of suffering for His glory so why are we not hearing this message?
To those that feel that it is always a matter of lack of faith or lack of belief or lack of trust, may I ask you this? Would you stand in front of the Apostle Paul and tell him to ‘Just believe’? Would you stand in front of Job, a righteous man of God, and say, “Have faith”? I think not. Who am I to mock God by disregarding His purposes for my life? I will give Him glory in all things because it’s only because of Him that I can do anything. If I touch but one life, if I pass on but one legacy, if I but achieve anything in this life it will be not just FOR God’s glory, but BECAUSE of it.
Keep on preaching the truth of God’s word. I implore you though to remember to preach the whole truth. God can heal but God does not always heal. For those bearing up under man’s guilt placed on your shoulders, if it’s a matter of faith, a matter of belief or trust, well then have faith, belief and trust that God hears your prayer (“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9 NIV) and answers your prayer in His time and according to His will (“Call to me and I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3). Of this you may have full assurance. I don’t know where you’re at in your journey but I walk each and every day side by side with my Lord Jesus, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in ME will carry it on to completion”. If that means doing His work while dealing with illness day in and day out well, PRAISE GOD! No one will be able to say it was anything other than through God’s strength and not mine!