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.”