God’s Intolerable Compliment
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Greetings this morning, and the Lord bless you in a wonderful way this day. We welcome you again to Meditation Moments.
The other day two books came to me in the mail from two different sources. They were both on the subject of suffering, but a direct antithesis of each other. Because they had come in the same mail and from such different persons, I was peculiarly interested. This was a strange coincidence!
The one author treated the subject of suffering from the standpoint of utter submission, that because God had allowed suffering to come, it must henceforth and forever be accepted as a burden to be borne in patient yieldedness. He then set forth all the benefits to be derived from suffering, which were many; it was a splendid treatise on the subject and absolutely true.
But he never gave one thought to God as the great deliverer, who, when the lessons are learned, would then be willing to set the captive free and heal the sufferer. No, the sufferer was always left, always in his suffering, and because of it constantly more saintly in character, that was true, but never to be delivered, and that’s the way the little book ended.
The other book on suffering took exactly the opposite tack from this one that I just told you about, and dealt with it as an oppression of the Devil, according to the scriptures that Jesus went about everywhere doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the Devil. (Acts 10:38) This writer then majored on the thought that God always wants to deliver, that His great desire is to set the captive free, release the suffering, heal the body, and that just as quickly as possible. Now these books on the same subject but exactly the opposite in thought made me have a great deal of thought over the matter. There was so much truth in each one that I couldn’t discard either, yet how could this be, you’d say?
Always there are coming the questions, even in our mail: Does God send this upon me? Someone writes this week, “Is this the will of God for me? If God has let this come upon me, then doesn’t He want me just to bear it patiently, accept it sweetly, learn submission and be content in whatever state I am in, and not try to get any deliverance, and not ask God to lift me out of it?”
To all these questions it would take a dozen such programs as this; it is impossible now to answer them all. But standing between these two books I received, I want to answer just two questions only. The first is that God does allow suffering in order to deepen the spiritual life, to clarify the vision—that is, to see ourselves as we really are. He does allow it in order to grow character.
God is much more interested in growing character and soul power than He is in growing a new lining in your stomach or new tissues somewhere on your body. However, lest I do not have time to say it later, He is interested also, as His Word so surely proclaims, that He will in the end deliver you when you have learned the lesson, or you’ve gotten the blessing He wants you to have, or you have grown the grace that He’s so interested in your having.
Some time ago there appeared an article in the Readers’ Digest called “Turn Your Sickness into an Asset,” written by Dr. Louis Bisch. (Reader’s Digest, November 1937, p. 143–146) He makes this comment: “Sudden illness has unhinged your knees, brought you limply to bed, and made you a horizontal citizen of the sick room and an unwilling initiate in the fellowship of pain. At first your reaction was to rail, fret and resent bitterly such untimely interference with life’s routine. But later you learn that your illness is conferring substantial benefits upon you.”
Now this was written by a doctor, mind you, a fine physician, and he ends the article by saying, “Any serious illness should be regarded as an opportunity to gather dividends that health can never bestow. There is introspection and self-analysis throwing the searchlight upon your inner self, until you’re humbled and cut down to your real size. Only when the way straightens and the gate grows narrow do some people ever discover their soul, ever discover God.” Now that doctor who has dealt with so many who are ill wrote those thoughts.
Well, we might have put this in other words and said that pain and suffering are instruments in God’s hands for loving correction, because He loves us too well to leave us to ourselves without the wholesome chastening of His grace. Pain is not an unmixed evil, but has a ministry to serve and lessons to teach. It supplies a needful discipline by means of which the soul is purified and patience and forbearance are strengthened, and it gives opportunity for God Himself to reveal His sustaining presence and sympathizing love.
The Father God of all mercy and comfort is never nearer His child than when that child needs His help the most. Second Corinthians 1:4 says, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
At times God seems to leave us alone in suffering and sickness, and we’re left dangling in midair, that we might know how weak we are in ourselves, how weak are the foundations of human confidence that we so often rest upon. I wish we had time to say more about this, but there isn’t time. But I want to answer the other question.
I believe when the lesson is learned, that God wants to heal you. I believe it’s His will to do so. He wants to heal you. I believe that His Word is full of promises and examples along this line—how could it be otherwise? I know that the healing for your body is in the Word of God, for I’ve searched it diligently for many years. It’s for today; it’s for you now. I believe it also because of so many testimonies of godly people that have been healed.
He says, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” (Exodus 15:26) Take hold of God and His promises today. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Learn the lesson and then call for deliverance. God bless you and answer your prayer. Amen.