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Vol. XVIII No. 27
4 April 2021

ILLNESS AND DEATH, WHY? (II)

Rev Nguyen Gia Hien

Proper Attitudes

1. Fear God and do not quickly judge the sick. There are various reasons for illness, diseases and death, so we should not quickly judge the sick, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:2–3). Thus, instead of judging the sick and thinking that we are better, we should pray for the sick as well as fear God, examine ourselves, repent of our sins, and keep ourselves humble.

2. Be not surprised or frightened but trust in God’s sovereignty. God is always sovereign, even the falling of a sparrow is not without His permission (Matt 10:29–31). We should wholeheartedly trust in Him and not be surprised or so frightened when we or our loved ones are seriously sick because God is able to make all things to work together for good to His beloved children (Rom 8:28). God always has a purpose when He allows something to happen to His children. It is good for us to examine ourselves and seek to know His will, trust in His will, and submit ourselves to His will.

3. Examine ourselves in repentance. God may use illness to chastise us and bring us back to Himself or to refine us and sanctify us so that we may be partakers of His holiness (Heb 12:10). As such it is always best to examine ourselves to see whether we have loved the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength and loved our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:30–31). Moreover, it is also good for us to meditate on the rebukes of the Lord to the five churches in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) when He called them to repentance because of their loss of their first love for the Lord like the church in Ephesus, their compromise with wrong doctrines like the church in Pergamos, their lack of godliness and sanctification like the church in Thyatira, their lack of spiritual life like the church in Sardis, and their lukewarmness like the church in Laodicea (Revelation chapters 2–3). We should remember that our unrepentant sins, transgressions and shortcomings will hinder our prayers to the holy and righteous God, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa 59:1–2).

4. See the doctor but don’t forget to seek the Lord. Many just go to the doctors for human treatments and medicines when they are sick without seeking the Lord. They forget to pray to Him. The Lord is not pleased with such an attitude. King Asa was not blessed nor healed because “in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians” (2 Chron 16:12). We should also not be deceived by fake healers, who just put their hands on the sick and say, “Be healed in the name of Jesus”. They just take the name of the Lord in vain (cf Acts 19:15).

Others may think that they do not need to see the doctor nor take any medicine because they want to trust in God alone, their Healer. This attitude is not biblical either. Although God is able to heal us directly without anyone or anything, yet oftentimes He uses doctors and medicines to heal His children. The Lord Jesus says, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt 9:12), and Luke was still “the beloved physician” when he accompanied Paul (Col 4:14). Therefore, when we are sick, we need to see a doctor, but we must seek the LORD and examine ourselves first.

We are also taught to ask godly and believing elders (including pastors) to pray for us when we are sick, confessing our sins, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas 5:14–16). The word “anointing” here is the Greek aleipho, which means “to rub, to cover over, besmear.” Thus, the rubbing with oil in the first century is like using some medication nowadays.

6. Live wisely as our body is God’s temple. Since, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), we should eat healthy foods good for our body, and keep our body hygienic. We should avoid tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and harmful foods that are full of chemicals or poisons. We should also keep our heart peaceful and joyful in the Lord because anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, worries, stress, fears, envy, hatred, arrogance or vengeance will harm both our spiritual health and physical health, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov 17:22). We are also taught to present our bodies to the Lord as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable unto Him (Rom 12:1). God never condones sins nor supports unrepentant sinners, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee (John 5:14).

7. Look forward to our Lord’s coming. Due to the disobedience of Adam, “sin entered into the world” (Rom 5:12). However, we should not be discouraged because of the salvation Christ brings, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). Our outward man or our physical body is naturally getting weaker, our eyes are getting dimmer, our ears are getting heavier, our memory is getting poorer, and all the organs in our body are wearing out, and sooner or later we shall be called home. However, we thank God for His good work in us (Phil 1:6), that our inward man is renewed day by day. We should look forward to our Lord’s coming when He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil 3:21). In the new heaven and the new earth, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:4). No more curse, no more pain, no more sickness, no more death in the glorious future! However, while living in this cursed world, we should be always ready to meet the Lord when He comes or when He calls us home any time whether by illness, accidents, natural disasters, wars or martyrdom.

Conclusion

No one can escape illness and death when living in this sinful and cursed world. May the Lord help us have proper attitudes when we are sick and pray for God’s will to be done upon the sick instead of judging them. God’s Word says, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev 14:13). Only the dead in Christ is blessed. The dead outside of the Lord will suffer forever in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).

To enjoy the blessing of the dead in Christ, we must live in Christ each day. Are you living in Christ now? Let us trust in the Lord, depend on Him and submit to Him moment by moment, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). May the Lord help us and keep us in Him each day until He comes or until we are called home at any time. Amen.

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