Sickness and suffering is part of human life. When a Christian is affected by it, he spontaneously turns to the Lord in prayer, asking for healing. When healing does come, it is no small a matter and everyone rejoices over the miraculous work of God. It becomes a sharing point at church and a testimony that is widely circulated. However there are several occasions (perhaps more often) when healing does not come. The Christian is advised to keep persevering in prayer and also reminded by some that he needs greater faith. He tries his best but continues to suffer not only from the pain but also from the confusion in his mind regarding God’s silence.
First, a pilgrim should resist the teaching that associates his sickness with sin. It is true that all sickness and imperfection that we see in us and around us is due to the sinful nature that was created by Adam’s first sin and multiplied thereafter by man’s persistent sin. And so with generations, these imperfections have found root in man, causing him to get sick and be in pain. We could also argue that circumstances like accidents and calamities that bring suffering are again a byproduct of the imperfection in the creation affected by man’s sin. Note Paul’s words in Romans 8
20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Creation is not pictured as a neutral, inanimate object but as an active and responsive world that is frustrated by man’s sin and blooms with man’s obedience to God. This might be obvious at times like when man’s greed and pursuit of prosperity brings on a variety of activity including deforestation, pollution etc adversely affecting nature. More often though, the direct link between man’s sin and the decay caused in the creation is not obvious but nonetheless real.
Likewise, every sickness that we see is a byproduct of that imperfection. However the direct link between sin and sickness is often not obvious. So when a smoker develops lung disease, the link might be there to see, but when a person is diagnosed with cancer, it is usually not obvious. So it might be accurate to say that the affected person, like all of us is a sinner and is responsible for his sins. He is guilty before God for his sins like all of us are. However it would be inaccurate to say there is a direct link between his sin and the specific sickness in him. The blind man that Jesus and his disciples encountered generated an interesting discussion that is helpful in this regard.
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 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. (John 9)
Tagging a person as sinful because of his sickness is dangerous theology because it generates unnecessary guilt that will only prevent him from coming close to God.
Jesus cuts at the tendency that people have to judge and condemn others, which is the underlying reason why sin is often associated with sickness, more so in others. He also points out from this incident that everything is ordained by the sovereign Lord, who is before all things, so that all circumstances ultimately bring him glory and honor.
More on this later, but feel free to comment.
- DIVINE DESTINY
- WHEN GOD DOES NOT HEAL-2