Saturday, May 1, 2010

God wants you feeling good?

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I was in Borders tonight doing some research for a book I'm writing... yes, yes, I'm writing a book (shh, don't tell anyone).... about living with chronic medical problems. Perusing the Christian Inspiration section - which apparently can be anything from finding God in suffering to how prayer can melt away your fat - I saw a yellow hard-back on the shelf entitled, "The Meal that Heals." The book was about how celebrating Communion on a daily basis has the power to make us well. It was very theological sounding and well-researched with lots of Biblical quotes and history lessons. My point here is not to argue whether Communion has the power to heal physically, but rather to question the author's conclusion that spiritual health and physical health always exist together. On the back of the book was a promise that the author would reveal the biggest barrier to physical healing. Spoiler Alert: According to him, it's unforgiveness, which goes hand-in-hand with lack of faith.

So here I am, getting ready to write a book about the spiritual benefits of walking through illness and I suddenly find out that my illness isn't about bringing glory to God; it's because my faith isn't big enough and/or I am failing to forgive someone. I had just put down a book by Joyce Meyer that said in the introduction that God wants us looking good and feeling good so we can best serve Him in this life. Excuse me?

Well, I'm not going to let Perry Stone, or even Joyce Meyer, tell me that God's plan for all Christians is to live a life of health. Yes, initially, that was His plan but Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world. And as a result some of us - many of us - will face physical brokenness. I've spent 15 years trying to glorify God in my suffering and, honestly, failing miserably sometimes. But the Lord desires that I continue to try. He is weaving something beautiful out of my threads of pain.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

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4 comments:

  1. This "looking good and feeling good in order to serve God best" ideal is completely in the eye of the beholder. It's such a changeable thing, and utterly at the whim of our culture and our flesh.

    I realize I do need more faith, but I think that suffering and illness is a very straight shot to receiving the faith I lack. It's not something to be avoided (although I often try), it's not something to pray myself out of (although at times I think that'd be nice). It's something that ought to make me prick up my spiritual ears and become a learner of what God has to teach me through this.

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  2. I love how you put that: "I think suffering and illness is a very straight shot to receiving the faith I lack." God will bless you so much through what you are going through, Erin, because you are willing to open your heart to that possibility.

    In the book I was reading tonight called The Beauty of Pain, the author describes the influence that people preaching this "wellness" gospel had on her. She said that because of it she spent a long time focusing on herself, trying to make herself worthy of healing. Then one day she realized she had taken her focus completely off God. I'm very glad God showed her the truth and relieved her of that burden.

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  3. Its so bothersome to me when people preach that. It hurts. I remember when one girl sat there and tried to preach to me that people who are sick (she specifically said cancer), are only sick because they lack faith. It was like a slap to my face and I had to walk away. I knew one too many people who had more faith in their right pinky than....well I'm not gonna go there. Just God bless her and open her eyes. But you get my drift. Faith is only developed during times of trial and whats more of a trial than an illness?

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  4. Wow. I wonder if these authors have ever read John 9. It's about a man that was born blind and first thing the disciples ask is if it was the man's fault or his parents. Immediately, people seem to think that physical ailments are a result of sin. But Jesus gave an astonishing answer. One that the authors you spoke of should consider.
    John 9:3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
    WHAT?! You mean it really is all about GOD and HIS glory and not about us?! Sorry for the sarcasm.
    I have had many struggles physically throughout my life. I know that I am not perfect. But I don't think God constantly afflicts me just to prove that point. He does however long for fellowship with me and is making me more like Jesus. I know he is doing this in my life and trials bring it about.
    My physical condition leads me to spend time on my knees and depend on Jesus. I know that anything that I accomplish well is because of God since I am too weak to do anything on my own. I do give Him the glory.
    I hope as with the blind man in John 9 that the work of God is being displayed in my life, even if I am sick and not looking good all the time.

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