Pain, Sickness, & the Goodness of God (by Jen Justice) [Guest Post]


Okay, for those that haven’t been keeping up with this. I wrote a post about meeting God in an illness I was facing. Steve Wolf left a comment taking issue with joyfully finding this sickness within God’s Providence. I wrote a response to him. He wrote a response to me. I then sent my final reply to Him. He sent his final reply. Now, an old friend of mine, Jen Justice, who is both one of the most faithful women of God I know and someone who has faced many medical issues in her life wishes to give a few words to Steve. I knew her in Richmond and she now lives in Atlanta with her husband Josh. She is a woman full of both wisdom and grace and this response from her to Steve exemplifies this well. Also be sure to read her article on humility she wrote for my old web magazine Reform & Revive. Here’s Jen:

Steve-

First, I just want to let you know that no one is mad at you for healing people. I also believe in the gift of healing and praise God whenever He heals someone. I continue to ask Him to heal me, and I’m grateful whenever a brother or sister prays for my healing, as well.

I don’t believe that God is the “Author of sickness,” but I do believe that this world is under a curse, that it is fallen and broken and that our bodies are part of this physical world – “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

I also believe that this world will pass away along with these broken bodies of ours, that there will be a new earth and we will be given new bodies, immortal and glorious. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Phil 3:20-21)

And I believe that Jesus has called us to set our hearts on that place, that new world, that new body, rather than to set our hearts on that which is destined to decay and death here:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 33)

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18)

I am not going to ask you to change your belief about God’s will for our health. But I would like you to consider a few things. Throughout the past few years as I have struggled with my health, whenever I have faced these types of questions – will God heal me? when will He heal me? why doesn’t He heal me? does He want to heal me? am I doing something wrong to keep Him from healing me? – I always come to a point where I realize that  I’m sure asking a lot of “me” questions. And I feel the Holy Spirit reminding me that Jesus didn’t teach us to be so wrapped up in our own well-being.

He taught us to think of others first, to love God with all of our  hearts and minds, and to set our hearts on the eternal. Yes, I should ask God to heal me, and yes, He can heal me – and perhaps it is always His will to heal me as you say – but is it not more important to follow Christ’s instruction to love God and love others and set my heart and mind on more important matters than my health?

Tell others that they can be healed, if you must, and by all means continue to use the gifts God has given you, but don’t forget to tell them that there is more than this world, that Christ died for their sins so that they can have an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe, and that they can spend eternity with Him in a new and glorious earth with a new, immortal body where there is no sin and sadness and death. And, yes, that relationship begins here on this earth, and, yes, life grows more abundant here on this earth as your eyes are opened to who He is and as He shows you how to walk in love and truth and grace.

I understand that you believe God’s healing touch gives power to this message. I believe this, too. I believe that God often uses the gift of healing to open people’s eyes to His gospel. My eyes are open, friend. I know His gospel. I know the riches and delights of relationship with my Savior and Lord, and I long for the day when I will see His face. And I am not healed. Please be kind to me and love me and be gracious to me by giving me the benefit of the doubt that I have entrusted my whole heart and body to my God and trust Him to do as He pleases with it all.

I trust that you believe you are doing the loving thing in telling me that I can be healed, that God wills that I be healed. But I feel I must tell you that it feels anything but loving. I feel condemned and judged by you. I feel that you might not even see me as a child of God. I won’t ask you to change your beliefs about healing, but I do ask that you consider how you present yourself to people in my position.

One final thought: Hopefully this has already been clear, but just in case it hasn’t. When Paul says that Crohn’s Disease can be a gift he means it in the same way that Jesus’ death on the cross was a gift. If the Son of God had merely suffered a horrific, excruciating, unjust death, no one would call this a gift. No one can say that in and of itself, his death was a good thing. In and of itself, it was the worst possible thing in all of eternity. But God used it for the greatest gift mankind has ever received.

Crohn’s Disease is not a good thing. It is a disease. But Andrew loves God and has been called according to His purposes, so God takes that disease and He uses it for good. God uses it to draw Andrew closer to Himself, to reveal parts of His glory that Andrew may never have seen without this disease. Pain and suffering have a way of focusing our attention – bringing us back to our priorities, simplifying our lives, drawing our hearts back to our true heart’s Desire. It reminds us that this is not our home; that Jesus rose from the grave and has gone to prepare a place for us – a glorious place free of suffering and sin and sadness and death.

And I guess some might differ, but that’s a gift I’ll take.

[image credit]

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10 thoughts on “Pain, Sickness, & the Goodness of God (by Jen Justice) [Guest Post]

  1. Jen wrote: “I continue to ask Him to heal me, ”
    Ok Jen, here’s my whole point of everything I have been trying to convey. Why would we ask God to give us something He has already given us? “who HAS blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). 2Peter 1:2-3 “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power HAS given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” I’m sorry that you guys can’t see that healing was provided for us in Jesus’s atonement.
    How can God answer a prayer for something He’s already given? Yes, you have sickness or a condition in your physical body. However, in your born-again spirit (the real you) there is complete wholeness. Remember you are a 3 part being: spirit, soul, and body. When you renew your mind(soul) to the truth that your born-again spirit knows(that you are healed), your body will be outnumbered 2 to 1 and line up with spiritual truths.
    Healing isn’t something we have to fight to obtain – be good enough to earn – or plead with God to hand out. The physical healing of your body is your blood- bought right as a believer. 1/3 of you is wall to wall Holy Spirit – that knows all things, and has the mind of Christ. Healing is something we have to defend from time to time (like you said we live in a fallen world), but don’t think of it as something we must obtain through self effort of any kind.
    The real question you should be asking is: How do I get the spiritual truths like healing to manifest themselves in this physical realm where they can do some good in the here and now? The answer is by faith, but like I said in my last response, you don’t lack faith! Usually its simply a case of too much Unbelief caused by 1) ignorance of scripture i.e. you’ve never heard the truth. 2) natural unbelief i.e. you place more stock in your 5 senses than the Word. (this kind of unbelief only goes out by prayer and fasting see Matt 17:21). 3) You were taught wrong. Faith comes by hearing… so does unbelief.

    You need to read: You’ve Already Got It by Andrew Wommack. If that book doesn’t change your thinking/life I promise before God and everyone here I will send you a $20 bill for the inconvenience of buying and reading it!!!! I’m serious.

    Jen wrote: “I don’t believe that God is the “Author of sickness,” but I do believe that this world is under a curse, that it is fallen and broken and that our bodies are part of this physical world.”
    Amen, I agree with you here. However, Jesus redeemed our physical bodies from the curse, and in fact delivered us from this present evil age(Gal 1:4). Let us not bear what our Lord has borne FOR us. See Isaiah 53:4 v.s. Matt 8:17

    Jen wrote: “– will God heal me? when will He heal me? why doesn’t He heal me? does He want to heal me? am I doing something wrong to keep Him from healing me? – I always come to a point where I realize that I’m sure asking a lot of “me” questions.”
    Haha Amen, it’s not about us, it’s about what Jesus has already done by His Grace. We receive healing the exact same way we receive salvation: by grace through faith. Faith appropriates(makes manifest) what God has freely given to us by His grace.

    Jen wrote: “My eyes are open, friend. I know His gospel. I know the riches and delights of relationship with my Savior and Lord, and I long for the day when I will see His face. And I am not healed.”
    Jen, I don’t doubt your salvation, or your love for our Savior. I do believe you know the gospel as it was presented to you. I believe you simply need to learn more of the authority we have in Jesus Christ. Please, please, please read that book by Andrew Wommack. You don’t have to wait till you get to heaven to experience victory. On earth as it is in Heaven.

    Jen wrote: “Crohn’s Disease is not a good thing. It is a disease.”

    Amen!!! It also has no authority to dwell in the temple of the Holy Spirit (Andrew’s body). What did Jesus do when He found something that didn’t belong in the temple?

    Jen wrote: ” God uses it to draw Andrew closer to Himself, to reveal parts of His glory that Andrew may never have seen without this disease.”

    I will never ascribe to this thinking. Did Jesus ask any of the people He healed if perhaps they might want to keep their disease in order to draw closer to God? No, He want about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38). What draws us closer to God? What makes us complete? Read 2Tim 3:16-17

    Finally Jen wrote: “But I feel I must tell you that it feels anything but loving. I feel condemned and judged by you.”

    I honestly don’t see how you could arrive at that conclusion based on all of my comments. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus – Rom 8:1. I believe that scripture wholeheartedly. It was never my aim to condemn anyone, but rather to expose religious traditions of man that make the Word of God of no effect. I may come off as harsh toward modern day Pharisees or self-righteous people, but didn’t Jesus do the same? I don’t view a sick Christian as any less of a Saint, or lacking in faith, or love, or anything. I see them as someone who would benefit from knowing who they are in Christ, what they have in Christ, and how to use it. Remember, it is only the truth that we know that sets us free. God bless you Jen, and please get that book- I’ll keep a fresh 20 dollar bill waiting if you feel that reading it was a waste of your time :) Peace

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