God allows and sometimes even determines sickness for a variety of reasons in the experience of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (as referenced at length in Part 1 of this consideration).
1. We live in a fallen world due to sin, the ground cursed by God, and the atmosphere poisoned by the presence of Satan. Sometimes we suffer as the natural consequence of living in such a realm.
2. God sometimes allows Satan to attack believers with illness.
3. God sometimes chastens His children with sickness.
4. Sometimes we suffer as preparation for ministry to others.
5. Sometimes sickness leads to the bestowal of Divine healing, and the revelation of God's power. Or, it may lead to the bestowal of enabling grace, and the revelation of God's heart.
6. We discover the caring and compassion of God as we look to Him and submit ourselves to Him in times of illness.
How we respond to sickness determines how we experience the challenge of pain, weakness, and limitation. The most important aspect of the matter is that we do respond - to God - in times of illness. The aforementioned Biblical truths provide the basis for such response. When sickness confronts us, we do well to remember the possibilities it offers as it arrives on our doorstep. I try to consider the reasons in a prayerful remembrance to the Lord.
"Heavenly Father, I look to You in this time of difficulty with praise and thanksgiving that You have allowed or perhaps determined this challenge to come my way. I thank You that You do all things for the glory of Your Son, for my benefit, and for the benefit of those with whom You have called me to live my life. I do not presently know why this sickness has come my way. But You do, and I trust that whatever the purpose, You will lead me to honor the Lord Jesus, walk with You through this in faith and submission, and provide opportunity for the bestowal of Your love and truth to others as You reveal Your strength in my weakness. As You see fit, I trust You to show me if this is simply a consequence of life in a fallen world, or if it a devilish attack, or Your chastening, or a preparation for ministry to others, or an opportunity for healing, or for the grace to endure, or perhaps the blessed opportunity to discover Your loving compassion in a greater way. Whatever the case, Lord, I choose to trust You and submit myself to You, as enabled by Your Spirit, for the glory of the Lord Jesus."
Upon this basis of Truth and trusting response, we embark upon a path on which we are far more likely to experience our challenge in the context of God's presence and involvement. Many more specific choices of faith and submission will be required as the pains and limitations confront us. If we realize that our trial involves the Lord's chastening, repentance and the determination to change must characterize our response. Prayers for others suffering like we are will surely grace our hearts and tongues. If we believe ourselves subject to devilish attack, we pray accordingly for the Lord's protection and deliverance. Our Father may heal us instantaneously as we seek Him, a blessed gift for which we give much thanks. However, He may also allow our thorn to remain, bestowing upon us the same gift given to the Apostle Paul so long ago, "My grace is sufficient for thee" (II Corinthians 12:9). Finally, we may simply discover the heart of God as His tendermercies reach us in the hour of our deepest agony. We trust His heart when we cannot understand His hand, and we shall not be disappointed when we do so.
No sickness comes our way without Divine involvement and purpose. Whether allowed or determined by God, when the challenge reaches us, He constitutes the context, as it were. Or, as the Lord Jesus declared to His disciples when meeting them in the storm, "It is I" (John 6:18-20). The way will not be easy, but as in every other arena of life in Christ, we don't expect it to be. May we look for our Lord to meet us in times of illness, with glories of Himself unknowable in any other condition. He will faithfully fulfill the ancient promise of His presence, and we will faithfully honor Him in times of sickness…
"The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness."
Weekly Memory Verse
He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence."