Month: January 2016
If you are facing the challenges of a long-term health condition, most likely you have had struggles with condemnation. I know we have. What I mean by condemnation is self-imposed guilt. Even though you can’t pinpoint specifically what you have done wrong, you find a way to blame yourself for your affliction. You think the reason for your medical trial is you. You must be failing God somehow, for surely the cause of your pain is his judgment and punishment. If you are the parent of a disabled child, you may wonder what you did (or didn’t do) to keep your child from being healthy. If you are a sick mother, you may often wonder if God is nailing you for a lack of gratefulness, or some other yet-to-be-revealed sin. As a caregiver, you may be convinced that the Lord has mapped out your hard road to discipline you for your lack of faith or some sin of your youth.
In addition to self-imposed condemnation, sometimes critical and cutting words come from others. These words are hard to take, and are often dogmatic in nature. When Margaret first became ill, we heard everything from “It’s all in your head,” to “You need to have more faith,” to “Confess his promises and you will be healed.” Needless to say, these words didn’t bring us comfort. Rather, we felt the sting of judgment, and wondered if we were truly failing God.
Thank God, for the Christian, the good news, communicated in the Bible, is clear: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). When we are saved, through faith, by putting our total trust in what Jesus did on the cross, all our sins are forgiven. Psalm 103:12 tells us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” The application of these truths for the chronically ill is simple, yet profound. Your illness or disability is not the result of the Lord’s judgment for some personal sin. No, Jesus took the penalty for your sins, and because of what he did you are completely forgiven.
Please prayerfully consider the words of Jesus, as recorded in John 9:1-3:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Did you catch that? The cause of the man’s blindness was not a specific sin. What freedom this brings from condemnation! Because of what Christ has done for you, the penalty for all your sins has been paid. He is not beating you up physically because of some unrevealed sin. You and are your family are not being judged because of your spiritual deficiencies. His mysterious plan for your life happens to include a chronic illness or disability. The goal is to display the works of God in your life. Like the blind man, he may bring healing. Or, according to his plan, he may show his works through years of faith-empowered perseverance. No matter what the medical outcome, you are free from condemnation because of Christ’s love for you.
Thank God, over the years Margaret and I have experienced (and continue to experience) the transforming power of the gospel to free us from condemnation. Yes, we are in the middle of some serious health challenges, but, because of Christ’s love for us, we don’t feel condemned. We are a grateful couple, knowing that because of what Jesus accomplished, “there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
Welcome to our first blog post. I (Michael) will usually be writing them, since the severity of Margaret’s health issues make it very difficult for her to write. Our plan is to do a monthly post, typically with an excerpt from our book which we hope will encourage you. Our goal is to post during the first week of each month, and as we begin this new year, we are so grateful to God for the daily assurance of His love, despite the ongoing severity of Margaret’s health challenges.
At times over the years we have found ourselves interpreting the love of the Lord based on our circumstances. If things are going well, it appears God’s love is upon us. If things are difficult, it is all too easy to conclude the Lord must be upset with us, and therefore somehow withholding His love from us. Thank God, the gospel informs us that Jesus’ love for us isn’t based on our circumstances. Rather, it is based on what Christ has done for us. So, we must be proactive with our souls–reminding ourselves often of what Jesus did for us on the cross. For truly this is the only place to look to see the never-changing, steadfast love of God towards us.
Here is a portion of chapter two in our book: the chapter is titled “The Gospel and Chronic Disease,” and this is from the section called “The Assurance of God’s Love.”
“I think living in a chronic illness world is a lot like flying in clouds. The positive, good outlook on our lives can be swallowed up by the storms of our medical trials. Our spiritual orientation can be lost. We can seriously begin to wonder if God truly loves us. The medical storm is so intense we cannot tell where we are headed. All we can see are the clouds of our trial, and the concerned looks of those around us. We wonder if we can survive, or if we will come out of our challenges so flipped upside down in our souls that we will inevitably crash and burn. We thought God loved us, but now everything is so difficult that it is increasingly hard to know his love still shines on us. If only we could really see the Son in the middle of our medical clouds. Is there a way to know for certain God loves us during these difficult times?
Thankfully, the answer to this question is a resounding “Yes!” The deep assurance of God’s love is found in the gospel. He loved us while we were still sinners, living in rebellion against him. (Note Romans 5:8) And, once we are saved through faith in Christ, he promises he will never leave us or forsake us. We are eternally secure in his love. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
May the love of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ strengthen and sustain you in the days ahead. “Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:7)