Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is there any glory in illness?

I like Toby Mac and I really love the song "I Was Made to Love You." One day a few years ago I was listening to this song in my car and singing along loudly--which I love to do since I'm a great singer in my car--and I was feeling how much I really was made to love God. I sang the words "anything, I would give up for you...everything, I'd give it all away" and I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit ask a really simple question. "Even your health?" At that point I pulled my car over and put it in park. I was shaken. During that time period I was dealing with severe headaches (still am) and hadn't had a break from having a headache in months. I had been through countless doctors appointments and tests, many people were praying, some were even counseling me that I must have unconfessed sin to be so ill. God's glory was supposed to be manifest in my healing. God's glory would be shown best by the awesome testimony I would have when he miraculously healed my pain...right? That's how it works...right? And then came the question from God himself. Would I really give up ANYTHING for him? Would I be sick for His glory?

Now, don't misunderstand me. I know God didn't make me sick. He didn't give me Marfan's and all of the complications that go with that. But his question pointed out two things to me. One part was an invitation to go deeper with Him, to examine my commitment to Him. Was I really willing to give up anything? Was I really willing to use every aspect of my life to point to His greatness? Tough questions. The other part was God exposing to me an idol that I had created.

A friend of mine said recently that whatever you fear becomes your god. I was afraid of being incapacitated, afraid of being disabled, afraid that I would end up in a wheelchair or housebound. Awake in the middle of the night, can't get it out of my head fear. And because of that fear I was slowly turning health into an idol. I wanted to do everything in my power to be healthy. I was in charge of taking care of my body; I had to exercise and eat right and see the right doctors and monitor the symptoms and make sure that I knew everything there was to know about my condition and and and...None of these things are bad in and of themselves. But the repeating theme was the big giant "I have to do this." I was taking care of all of it and asking God to come along for the ride. I was trusting God to a degree, but I was taking much of the credit and responsibility on myself. Every aspect of my health focused around me hearing God correctly and doing the right things, not me trusting that God would take care of it and make himself heard. That's an exhausting way to live.

I was believing the lie that God's greatest glory would be shown in total healing. But maybe God's glory is shown best in a life well lived in the midst of great adversity. What if I can truly answer "how are you?" with "great" regardless of my circumstances? Not because I'm denying the adversity but because I feel great because of God's love and strength in me. What if God's peace and the Holy Spirit's presence is so evident in me that people are drawn to Him? What if they see only that peace and joy and know that it has to be from God because of my limitations?

That's what it would mean to be sick for God. Living out my life focused on God's love and constant presence and abundant blessings in the midst of trouble honors God. It's my truest form of worship.

Do you want to know how I answered the Holy Spirit's question that day in the car? I did say yes but tentatively and unenthusiastically. I think I actually said "I guess?" I don't like having problems with my body. I would rather be well, but I'm willing to lay down my desire. I am willing to cling to the promise in Romans 8:18 "[But what of that?] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!" (amplified)

Romans also says in 8:35-37, "Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." (NLT) I am going to embrace the promise of overwhelming victory and live out this present life for God.

No comments: