The last few months I have been spending time pondering and praying about the subject of suffering. I have been chronically ill since 1984, finally being correctly diagnosed with Stage 3 Lyme Disease in 2007. Joel joined me with his own fight against Lyme and its buddies (co-infections) over a year ago, and this past March I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had surgery to remove it all. During this recovery time, I began to question the journey we are on. There are several schools of thought on the subject of illness, suffering and getting well, and when you are sick for a long time, people seem to be more verbal about sharing their opinions on these subjects with you.
My need to learn more intensifed when I joined a conference-call prayer group, where the leader believes strongly that God wants all of us well and healthy. She states that Christ's death on the cross was in part so that we do not need to suffer. He already suffered for us. I felt challenged by these beliefs and my pondering turned into a time of struggling and growing.
I have read a couple of books by well known authors on the subject of healing~ there are many on this topic! There is more than one TV evangelist who tells us if we would just "believe" we would get well. God's favor is there for the asking, and our faith or that of a faith healer will heal us. One person I am close to has asked me, "Do you really want to get well? Is there something emotional inside of you that is keeping you from getting well? Some hidden benefits?" In Max Lucado's book, "It's Not About Us" he states that a season of suffering can be a part of God's calling for us ~ He says, "Your faith in the face of suffering cranks up the volume on God's song." Yet another school of thought is that we live in a fallen world and we are going to have suffering because of sin.
I have looked at all the above and more, reflecting on my own beliefs while reading about those of others. What I came to realize is that there is scripture to back them all! There is great mystery in all of this for me....we have seen a close friend on death's door with terminal cancer who was miraculously healed and is living a full life years later. We have seen others who believed with their whole heart that God would heal them here on earth...and He did not. I have also observed others who have not asked for healing but did use their suffering to glorify God, and we all understand that a sinful world brings suffering to many. There are as many answers as there are questions on the enigma of suffering.
I believe there are mysteries we will never fully understand, and one of them is the mystery behind suffering. Researching this subject left me open to God's desires for our lives in all areas, including healing. I have come before God asking for healing in accordance with His will, hopeful for full health here on earth, while also asking God to use our season of suffering to His glory. I know that God answers our prayer requests with what He sees as best for us, and that He loves us....deeply and unconditionally. In His omnipotence there is mystery and will be until God welcomes us into Heaven. And I am okay with that. I don't have all the answers on the suffering people experience, but I do know I can trust my Lord in every season of my life.
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