Last time we talked about how it’s biblical to pray for healing, and such prayers don’t have to be to the exclusion of outreach to the lost. But we ended with a caveat: We must stop praying for healing when God says no, as He did to Paul.
“Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Yes, sometimes it is God’s will for us to endure chronic, critical or even terminal illness. And in those cases, we must believe that God provides sufficient grace as He did for Paul. But what comfort is that to the young person who continually endures debilitating sickle cell crises, or to the woman whose body is wracked daily by Crohn’s Disease, or to the senior citizen witnessing a progressive decline in kidney function?
It is great comfort, if you let it be.
The challenge is threefold:
- Come to terms with your mortal frailty. Paul recognized he would experience his thorn for his remaining days. It would not leave him, but neither would it defeat him.
- Trust God’s heart. If you are a child of God, He intends to use all things for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28; John 11:4). Let him, even if your good and His glory look a little different in your eyes. Let your life be about Him, not about you.
- Claim His grace each moment of each day and find ways to serve Him where you are. Paul managed to author many letters and complete many missionary journeys despite his thorn. Be determined to finish your race strong, and be available to God in any way you can. Pray for others, be an encouragement to others, point others to Christ – all of which you can do when homebound or even bedridden. Do not be defeated by the slow death of your body. After all, doesn’t death mean we’ll finally be truly alive?
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord . . . So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. – 2 Corinthians 5:4-7, 9
I do not write this out of ignorance. I’m an asthmatic celiac, and trust me when I say it’s really best that I work from home. I build two hours into every morning so I can ensure I’m breathing properly before moving on with my day. Some days – weeks, months – are hard, but I can’t let my physical health dictate my spiritual health. And neither should you, because . . .
My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
Amen and amen.