Physician of my sin-sick soul,
To thee I bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by thy grace.
Pity the anguish I endure,
See how I mourn and pine;
For never can I hope a cure
From any hand but thine
I would disclose my whole complaint,
But where shall I begin?
No words of mine can fully paint
That worst distemper, sin.
It lies not in a single part,
But through my frame is spread;
A burning fever in my heart,
A palsy in my head.
It makes me deaf, and dumb, and blind,
And impotent, and lame;
And overclouds, and fills my mind,
With folly, fear, and shame.
A thousand evil thoughts intrude
Tumultuous in my breast;
Which indispose me for my food,
And rob me of my rest.
Lord I am sick, regard my cry,
And set my spirit free;
Say, canst thou let a sinner die,
Who longs to live to thee?
– “A Sick Soul” by John Newton
Sickness. If you have lived on this earth for any extended period of time, it is probable that you have been touched by it in some way, shape or form. From fevers, to the flu, to the common cold…we all despise being sick, but are hard pressed to avoid it. Try as we may, permanently avoiding any sort of malady or virus is nigh to impossible. Even the most health-conscious person can become stricken with a bout of sickness every once in a while. It’s just another result of the sin and chaos that entered the world back in the garden.
When we get sick or injured, the first thing we tend to do is to beseech God to heal our infirmity. Then, we ask others to join us on this mission. Now, mistake me not – prayer is a truly wonderful gift from God. It is an admirable heart that lays its cares upon the Lord. However, I am convinced that we are at times too quick to ask God to remove infirmities. What we don’t realize is that oftentimes, sickness and injuries are from God – a call to holiness, as it were. Would we be so brazen as to ask Him to remove that which is from His hand? Consider His powerful proclamation found in Deuteronomy 32:39:
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
I believe that when we find ourselves down in the mouth, we should look not only upward, but inward. The first thing we ought to do is not: ask God to heal our sickness or injury. Rather, the first thing we ought to do is ask God to open our eyes to any sin in our life that He may be trying to reveal to us through our sickness or injury…
For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous…because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee. – Jeremiah 30:12; 15b
Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that not each and every malady is brought on by an individual’s personal sin. There are cases where a sickness or injury is simply a recurring disadvantage of the fall and the cursed state of our world. However, whether each case is in direct correlation to our personal sin or not, would we not do well to habitually stop and consider what teaching we might gain from our maladies?
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Let us look at some examples of how we can view our infirmities as a spiritual wellness check-up:
(Note: I have supplied a link to each of the following verses. Please feel free to click on each as you read and allow God’s word to speak.)
5 lessons for when I am in pain…
5 Lessons for when I am impaired…
If I suffer with insomnia, I will ask myself: Is there work to be done for the Lord worth staying up for? (Psalm 132:4-5)
If I suffer with acne breakouts, I will ask myself: Have I been a voice of contention in my congregation; causing strife between brethren as a blemish in our midst? (2 Peter 2:10-13)
5 Lessons for when I am ill paced…
If I am laid up with a broken arm, I will ask myself: Have I used the arm of my strength to bully others of an inferior rank to myself (children, co-workers, etc.)? (Job 35:9)
If I am laid up with a broken leg, I will ask myself: Do I walk with Christ as fervently in private as I do in public? (Psalm 101:2)
If I am laid up with cuts and bruises, I will ask myself: Have my careless words left sore spots in others that linger past the initial damage? (Proverbs 18:8)
If I am laid up with dizziness/nausea, I will ask myself: Am I too weak and faint to stand up for those who are being put through the ringer? (Proverbs 24:10-12)
Whether we are in pain, impaired, or ill paced…let each of us make a habit of using our physical bodies as spiritual teachers at every opportunity. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the maladies the human body may be faced with, I hope that it offers you an idea of how to search for spiritual growth in the midst of your troubles. I pray that you have been blessed by this study of sin and sickness…and of health and holiness.
Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. – Job 34:31-32
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. – James 5:14-15
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.