Health issues seem to be a favorite weapon used by the enemy to break us down. What most people don’t stop to think about is that fighting an illness isn’t just physical, it’s also mental and spiritual. Yes, spiritual.
If you have never considered the possibility that an illness might be spiritual, I’d like you to consider Jesus’ ministry while on earth. As he went about healing, he identified the cause and treated illnesses as being physical (he laid hands on them for a healing) or spiritual (he commanded the demons to leave).
It Doesn’t Matter Who You Are, Illness Is Hard
*It’s hard to watch your body change and do bizarre things and not have any control over what is happening to you.
*It’s hard to fight when you aren’t feeling particularly strong but weak from your illness.
*It’s hard not to be confused when it seems you are being told contradictory information about your body and your illness.
*It’s hard to avoid frustration when you have to make a decision on who to believe, who to trust with your life, and who to obey.
But you know what? It is when we are at our weakest that we are able to step back and allow God to show his greatness. Those aren’t empty words meant to pacify. God promises that if you will turn to him, he will fight for you.
God knows you are going to attempt to fight and do it on your own but he wants you to know that you don’t have to. You don’t have to fight until you are weak and weary. He invites you to rest in him. He will fight for you and he ALWAYS wins. But you must turn to him first. Allowing that truth to go down deep into your spirit is a very powerful weapon of spiritual warfare. God says it this way in his Word:
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore more gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10)
Spiritual or Physical Healing?
With our senses, we can only see the physical around us so that is what we focus on. We tend to put so much stock in what we can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. Just as our physical world is active, alive, and ever-changing, so is the spiritual world. God is constantly moving on our behalf.
Our faith releases what God is doing on our behalf; without faith, you cannot be healed. How many times do we read in just the Gospels alone that Jesus told someone their faith had made them whole (healed)?
What is faith? According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the exact opposite of your physical senses and cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelt, or touched. When we get saved, we are blessed with a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) so it is something you already have within you thanks to the Holy Spirit.
Where is God When It Hurts?
Please know these two things: God loves you and he has not left you alone in your illness for a single second. Please pray that Holy Spirit would help you get those two truths down deep into your spirit.
The enemy will use your time of weakness to play with your mind. He will try to convince you that God doesn’t care about you, that you are too sick to read your Bible, that your prayers are in vain and God can’t hear you.
The truth is that God hears every one of your prayers, God loves you and desires for you to be healed, your answers can be found in the Bible, and if you search for God you WILL find him.
Because so many of us have a hard time accepting this fact, I am going to repeat it: you are a child of God’s. You are not alone. You are in the Lord Almighty’s hands. He knows all about your situation. He sees you and he hears you. Holy Spirit lives within you and knows it is your heart’s desire to be healed. I promise you, God knows.
Why Do Bad Things Happen To God’s People?
When you are ill, it is so easy to get discouraged. How many times a day do you think “Why, God? Why am I going through this?!?” This blog post isn’t to answer that question for you. In fact, I cannot possibly tell you why and neither can anyone else. Why you go through something is a question between you and God. Keep in mind you might not have an answer to your questions though until you see Jesus face to face in heaven.
I want to urge you not to focus on the why as much as the who. Who is your healer, who is your Redeemer, who is your hope and salvation? Turn to Jesus and allow him to do his good work within you. Trust that he ultimately has your best interest at heart regardless of what happens.
I can’t stress this next truth enough: God doesn’t see suffering the way we do. We see it as some type of punishment or God’s lack of love and attention to us. God knows everything we are going through. But he is more interested in our spiritual health than our physical health.
God knows that we are on this earth but a moment then with him in heaven forever. I urge you to take the time to read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58. Death to God isn’t the same as it is to us. We think of it as this horrible, scary, abrupt ending where we will be ripped away from the only people who love us. God sees it as a blessing and a continuation of his promises.
We Have Hope Because God’s Promises to His Children are Very Real.
He promised us to be our healer (Exodus 15:26).
He has promised to be our safe place (Psalm 91, Psalm 121).
He has promised to never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Who Causes Us To Suffer?
People feel strongly about this question. Ask those around you and see what answers you get. You will hear an adamant “the Devil is who makes us suffer” or “God punishes us with suffering”. I’m no different. Before beginning this study, I thought I had a good understanding of who causes us to suffer. However, as I dove into this study, I was surprised that not all suffering comes from where I thought it came from.
As a Christian, to me, this was the most obvious one as I knew Satan lives to attack God’s children. You cannot read a story in the Bible without coming across someone who is under spiritual attack. Satan attacks our bodies and our minds (usually both at the same time).
One of the most famous examples of an attack by Satan can be found in the story of Job in the Old Testament. Job was a man of God and didn’t do anything wrong to allow Satan a foothold. Yet Satan went after Job the same way he goes after us; attacking our loved ones, our finances, our mental health, our faith, our physical health, and our trust in God.
The Evil One comes at us with both barrels loaded and heaps as much on us as he can hoping that we will lose all faith in God. He wants us to grow discouraged, angry (especially at God), and bitter. Satan will whisper lies all day long trying with everything he possesses to get us to put more stock into what we feel, see, and hear. He would love nothing more than for each one of us to turn our backs on God.
Sometimes your illness is from God. That is so hard for most of us to accept. But God might be trying to get your attention, rebuke or reprimand you, encourage you to do something or to test you. A few biblical examples are King Nebuchadnezzar going insane (Daniel 4), Saul on the road to Damascus being struck blind (Acts 9), and King Saul terrorized by spirits (1 Samuel 16). As you study each of those accounts, you will see that each illness came from God for a specific purpose.
Or, God might have allowed an illness so that his glory would be revealed through your healing. This happened in the New Testament (John 9:1-3) when Jesus healed a blind man. When asked by his disciples about the man’s illness, Jesus told them it wasn’t the fault of the man or his parent’s but that God allowed it so that the works of God would be manifested in him.
Curse of Being Human/Environmental
Sometimes your illness might be “just because” or environmental and not due to anything specific you have done. Maybe this is really another area where Satan is trying to wear you down. I don’t know but I do know that our bodies are not created to live forever (Genesis 3). We are given this one life to live and then we will return to dust and our soul will join God in Heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:20)
“As the prophet says, “People are like grass that dies away; their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of wildflowers. The grass withers and the flowers fall away. But the word of the Lord will last forever. And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)
We are quick to blame God for things like birth defects, autism, and everything else under the sun. But maybe those things (and your particular illness) are from all the chemicals out there in our food and environment causing our bodies to behave in a way they were not created for. That isn’t of God. That is what we humans have done to ourselves and each other with generation after generation of bad choices. We are all to blame for what we have been doing to our world.
This is also difficult for most of us to accept. Nobody wants to think they are at fault but you might be and are deceiving yourself.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Do you have sin in your life that God has tried to bring to your attention but you have ignored? If so, you might have opened the gates and allowed the Devil to create a stronghold in your life. Sin is funny in that you get so comfortable with it you don’t even pause to consider it a sin any longer.
Maybe you have not learned how to handle your day-to-day stress in a productive way. We can all look at the studies and see how stress not handled well affects our health. Stress is mental and physical in its attack which makes sense because the Bible says as a man thinks in his heart so is he. Have you been letting your fears consume you to the point of it affecting your health?
Everyone has a different set of circumstances but we all have the same type of issues. For example, maybe you have spent many years consuming large quantities of high sugar, nutritionally deficit foods and now you have been diagnosed with health issues related to your gluttony.
Have you spent years pushing your body and mind to the limit in an attempt to acquire more and keep up with the Jones’? Now you suffer from stroke or heart conditions and because you were never around your family is in pieces. You did that to yourself with years of pride, greed, and lust for physical possessions.
Or maybe you’ve gone the opposite direction and you pushed yourself to the limit working out allowing nothing and no one to come between you and your workouts. You’ve pushed yourself to the point of serious damage to your body and need surgeries to fix issues. Did the enemy cause you to be injured or did you allow working out and striving for the perfect body to become your god?
We are great at deceiving ourselves but I urge you to be honest with yourself and ask Holy Spirit to examine your heart and life.
God Is In Control
Regardless of what your illness is or why it was brought into your life, God is still the ultimate authority.
God created all things and that includes good and evil. I know that is hard to grasp and I will look deeper into this topic in another post. But we know that God alone is the creator of all things. Satan could not have created evil as he is an imitator, not a creator.
Satan is the god of this world. We’ve been taught to tremble with fear at the thought of Satan. But don’t despair and allow Satan to be something he is not. He is NOT more powerful than God. In fact, he is limited whereas God is limitless. Satan cannot possibly touch a child of God without God’s permission. Even when God grants him permission, Satan is still restricted in what he can do. He must operate in the parameters God sets (again, think of Job).
That doesn’t mean that the spiritual world is a free-for-all. It doesn’t mean that God can’t be trusted because he lacks control over what happens to his creation. Satan wants you to believe those things are true but the truth is that God is absolutely in control all the time. God has the ability to heal us of anything at any given moment. After all, nothing is impossible for the creator of the universe and everything in it (Matthew 19:26).
Does That Mean God Plays With Our Lives?
No. Absolutely not. God would never casually play with our lives. He has a plan and is constantly at work in our lives to put that plan in place. But we still have free-will which God will not override. Not because he isn’t powerful enough. Having power isn’t an issue for the creator of everything seen and unseen.
This isn’t a game to God. He adores us so much he is constantly talking to us, guiding and directing our steps. He encourages us to do (or not to do) certain things. He is also busy fixing our many mistakes while still blessing us. But none of this is a joke or a game to God. Read this Psalm to see what I mean:
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)
That is what God wants from us. He wants us to want to turn to him with our love, trust, praise, and obedience. He knows that you will be astounded when you see his many blessings.
“For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience, we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy.” (James 5:10-11)
Those who stood their ground and spoke the true words of God were not popular and were treated pretty poorly. They endured so much more than we could ever think of going through. The next time you feel sorry for yourself, pick any of the prophets and read their story. See what they endured and how they handled it. I promise your eyes will be opened.
Two Kings with Two Different Outcomes
In 2 Chronicles 16:12-13, King Asa got sick. Asa developed a serious foot disease. Even when the disease became life-threatening, he didn’t seek the Lord’s help but sought help only from his physicians. So he died.
How sad. King Asa could have gone to God and asked to be healed. God could have chosen to heal him or provide a physician to heal the king. But King Asa didn’t bother. He only sought human efforts and ignored God. He paid the ultimate price for that decision to reject God’s healing power.
Now, let’s look at another king in the Old Testament.
2 Kings 20:13, King Hezekiah was told by the prophet Isaiah that God said Hezekiah) would die in his sickness. Hezekiah immediately turned to God in prayer and repentance. Interestingly, Hezekiah didn’t call together his prayer partners or even ask God for a healing. Instead, he began to pray and remind God of his (Hezekiah’s) past. Within moments, God sent the prophet back to tell Hezekiah that he would not only heal him but give him 15 more years of life.
Two very different accounts with very different results. Hezekiah did what God longed for; he turned to God without delay with a repentant heart. This also reminds us that God is always listening.
What About Physicians?
Does this mean you can’t go to doctors if you want a healing? Not at all. The prophet Isaiah gave instructions to the staff on how to heal King Hezekiah. That knowledge would have had to come supernaturally from God. Just as God has blessed each of us with gifts and special abilities, he has gifted physicians with knowledge and wisdom and heals through them. But he also heals without them.
We Need To Seek Our Help From God
Illness is something that causes many to rise up and become angry at God. We feel betrayed and abandoned. We find ourselves grasping at straws trying to stop the downward spiral when God is there waiting for us to turn to him. God never promised us a pain-free life. It sure would be lovely if that was the case but it appears he is saving that blessing for heaven.
However, whether God heals you or not, he is still on the throne, still a good Father, and still in love with you. Our comfort and hope need to come from God…even if.
God Has A Plan That Involves You
Even though you are going through an illness, you are a child of God so you have hope! We can do nothing without God and being ill is a perfect example because we can’t possibly heal ourselves. As we seek God, our weakness allows his strength, and his plan, to be revealed. You might not be able to fathom how God plans to use your illness for his glory but that doesn’t mean God is clueless. You have to have faith and trust that God will put you in the right place at the right time and that he will work everything out according to his will.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
God is still God even in your illness!