Recently, two of my kids had to have hip surgery because of a skeletal problem they have called Brachyolmia. On a Monday evening, I took my 8 year old to the E.R. because of pain in her right leg and limping. After a long wait, we got x-rays back and heard she had a slipped capital femoral epiphysis. My daughter instantly burst into tears because she knew that likely meant surgery since her big sister with the same skeletal condition had this happen four years prior. I couldn’t calm her down.
Then came the words, “I prayed I wouldn’t need surgery. Why didn’t Jesus answer my prayers?”
Those are some difficult words to hear. My arms were wrapped around her and I felt her hot tears. All of the comfort I could provide just wasn’t enough. I was stunned, and didn’t have the exact words to answer her. I told her that Jesus did hear her prayers even though she didn’t get the answer she wanted, and we prayed together. I didn’t know what else to do accept to hold her and pray for God to give her the peace, comfort, and answers that I just couldn’t provide.
After a while, she and I both gained our composure a bit, and I tried to talk to her about the surgery. I was able to explain to her that God can use difficult times to make our faith stronger or give us wisdom to help others. She has since told me that God taught her through this that she is stronger than she thinks, and she can do anything with His help. I am glad she grew instead of becoming bitter.
Today, I was looking through old Facebook posts on my personal page, and I came across something I had written regarding our trials/ infirmities a few years ago. It wasn’t long after my oldest daughter had had surgery. I would like to share those thoughts with you today. Sometimes God has to teach us the same lessons over again:
How does God see our health problems? How should we react?
The Bible is very clear about how God sees our bodies:
1. They are full of sickness spiritually and physically. We need a Savior. There is no other permanent cure. We often refer to Jesus as The Great Physician. Not only does He have the power to heal our physical bodies because He made them, He also can raise up our spiritual bodies as well, giving us new life when we accept Him as our Savior.
2. We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26,27). Mankind is set apart from the rest of creation.
3. We are created individually special. Even though we are not perfect, the book of Psalms tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Some may not be whole, but no one is born without a soul. We are set apart, not just from the rest of creation, but from each other too. Not only did God fashion each one of our members, He has a plan for each one of us (Psalm 139:13-18). God had a plan for each one of us before we were born just like He did for Jeremiah, Samuel, Jacob, and John the Baptist.
So where does our health fit in to all of this? Are our illnesses left up to chance as part of the sin curse, are they punishment, are they teaching tools, or are they meant for something else? Whatever other factors are involved, Jesus tells us in John 11 that illnesses (our physical trials) are meant to glorify God.
This week I have been contemplating John 11 as well as what Paul says about glorifying in his infirmities (read II Corinthians 12). How can our illnesses bring glory to God? When I think of bringing God glory, I think of praise and being full of joy and thankfulness. How can I bring God glory when I feel ill or a family member is ill? How can I teach sick children to be happy and let God be glorified through their weaknesses? How can I teach them to not be bitter when they feel like God is not hearing their prayers? It is one thing to recognize trials you go through as being constructive (like a way to reach others, a way to increase your faith, a way to keep your heart near to God through humility, a way to purge, etc.), but it’s a totally different thing to actually glory in those infirmities, to find peace and even happiness in them.
My challenge to myself this week is to glory in those infirmities. Maybe God doesn’t want to see you crying and broken because of your trial or illness. Maybe God wants to hear you sing His praise. My challenge to myself this week has been every time I feel anxious, ill, or discouraged, I will sing “Glory to His Name.” That may sound silly, but it’s amazing how God can lift our spirits and give us strength by us simply trusting and praising Him instead of asking of Him, or by singing praises instead of mourning.
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” 2 Corinthians 4: 16,17