Truth Taught: God uses disease to destroy our idols and test our faith
As Christians we often need to get our thinking back in line with God’s Word. It’s hard to read or listen to any news or scroll through blogs without hearing something about this virus that has within a few weeks changed much of our everyday lives. This has perhaps caused anxiety, fear, and even some frustration among the many followers of Christ. How are we to think given our current situation?
Since the fall in the Garden of Eden there has been sickness and disease. It’s not a new thing to the human race historically but it is something new to us.
In the beginning it was not like it is now.
Genesis 1:31 (ESV)
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
What changed things from being very good to what we have now is the introduction of sin into the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Sin brought disease and sickness with it. As part of the curse God brought sickness, thorns, and death into His perfect creation.
We read these truths and we have read them before but now we are living it and many questions are being asked of God. Why is this taking place? Why are people dying? Why are You doing this?
The first thing we need to avoid is our mental formulas of cause and effect. No one knows why God is doing this. Many have alluded to some sort of judgment and maybe they’re right. But we cannot say for sure whether it’s judgment or not. God has in the past used plagues as a form of judgment but that does not automatically mean that is what this is.
There are at least two places in the NT where Jesus wants to make a point concerning sickness/calamities with personal sin. He blows away the disciple’s mode of thinking and possibly ours as well.
Luke 13:1–5 (ESV)
13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
What is Jesus’ point here? His point is that those who Pilate murdered were not any worse sinners than those who escaped so it’s not necessarily always someone’s personal sin that brings about calamity. What we should be reminded of in these times is the surety of all our deaths eventually. We should take this opportunity to repent of our sin. So the why question is not the most important question to be answered. What’s most important is where are you concerning your relationship to God through Jesus Christ?
Another time Jesus’ disciples thought their assumptions were a given that they began to build opinions based on their faulty reasoning.
John 9:1–3 (ESV)
9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
What was Jesus’ point here? While sin is always part of the equation, this man’s blindness was not a result of God’s judgment but God’s mercy. The disciples assumed that blindness was a result of someone’s sin, in other words, it was the judgment of God on this man when actually is was a planned event so Jesus could heal him and receive glory.
In light of these verses, I’m wondering if we might think together of another possibility concerning this current flu pandemic? Could God be doing a wonderful work in us and in our neighbors?
Disease is radical, it shows us and destroys our idols.
Our world spends trillions of dollars to create a false sense of security. Just think of all the ways our world seeks for security in everything except in God through Christ. Trillions of dollars spent on the world’s military so the nations can feel secure and yet something as small and microscopic as a virus can in a few weeks shake the world’s security. This is a work of God’s grace to show the world that they are not secure after all. Our idol of security is lying in a sickbed and that is a work of God’s goodness to remind us that security can only be found in Him.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has caused massive disruption to the world’s economy, shuttering schools, offices, and businesses, and dramatically disrupting trade and travel for weeks. Fear over the virus’s rapid spread beyond China sent the U.S. and global markets tumbling and forced numerous businesses to lay off workers, many businesses shutting down and closing up shop. The financial hardship caused by this public health crisis exposes our fears of instability and loss.
All the effort spent to shore up our economy over the years can be wiped away in a few short weeks by something so small and microscopic as a virus.
So, since man cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24) and since we get so distracted by money it could very well be God’s goodness to remove it from us?
Disease offers us a healthy reminder of our weakness and limitations.
Psalm 90:10 (ESV)
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Psalm 90:12 (ESV)
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Since self-sufficiency is pride would it not be loving for God to show us just how weak we really are? It’s like a featherweight boxer going into the ring with the world champion heavyweight. It would be a good thing for someone to tell him he is not very strong compared to the champion. Beloved we are very weak and extremely limited. Something as small and microscopic as a virus can take our pride away. God is good to tell us or in this case show us that our strength should only come from Him.
As the faith of believers is tested and tried it comes out of the fire stronger than ever before. Struggles reveal what we truly believe about God. They shake us and shout to us PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE LORD!
1 Peter 1:3–7 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
God’s ways are not our ways neither are His thoughts our thoughts. Would we be wrong to say in the spirit of the Beatitudes… Blessed are those who have their idols removed and their faith tested so they can embrace Jesus all the more?
Dear Church Family we can rise above this world’s fear and be thankful to God that even through difficult days He is doing a wonderful work in us.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Philippians 4:6–7 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Until we are together face to face, remember God is doing a wonderfully good work in us.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Various commentaries on Luke’s Gospel and John’s Gospel