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:
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.