Friday, February 27, 2009

When Word of Faith Movement meets Chronic Illness

I recently heard a sermon by a charismatic individual that suffered a vocal chord injury in 1992. Here are the highlights of his sermon.

- When this injury occurred his professional life, his personal life, his theology, his relationships, his family, everything was traumatized.

- He began to battle depression.

- He struggled with James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

- After years of living with the pain of the injury, he asked the Holy Spirit for the meaning of verse 2. He was given verses 3 and 4.

- James 1:3-4 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

- He defines endurance as "faith sustained over time in the midst of distress/pain."

- He defines perfect and complete, lacking nothing as "being the image of Jesus Christ."

- When he realized that endurance has a most wonderful purpose, he was immediately filled with Joy.

- He admits that the endurance did nothing to cure his vocal chord injury, but it transformed his personality into a more joyful person.

- He admits that the completion of the work of transformation will not be complete until he sees Jesus face to face.

That was his message.

I don't know what his earlier theology was, that was traumatized by this injury, but I suspect it included some form of "God always wants His children to be healthy."

That theology was changed into "Sometimes God uses sickness, disease, and illness to produce a good work in His children."

I would like to offer a third possible theology.

I am not saying that the first two theologies are not biblical. There are many a pastor out there who make the biblical case for " God always wants His children to be healthy."

Also, this man made a great biblical case for "Sometimes God uses sickness, disease, and illness to produce a good work in His children."

I shall use the Bible as well to support my concept that I will call "God is in control."

- Isa 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.

- This is the verse where I first discovered the idea that God is in control of the good things and the bad things that happen to us.

- There are many more to support the idea, but I will list only one more here.

- Job 1:21 The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.

- If God causes the bad things to happen then this begs the question, "Why?"

- My answer came from the Westminster Catechism. It says, "The chief aim of man is to glorify God."

- In the good times and in the bad times, we are to glorify God. That is exactly what Job did. "Blessed be the name of the LORD."

- Which is the better testimony: One who praises God when things are going great or one who praises God when things are going bad?

- I suggest that we view any bad things in our lives as opportunities from God to give Him glory during a bad situation. Just like James 1:2 from above, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials." Why? Because it is an opportunity to give glory to God when your testimony will be most valuable.

My major problem with the first two theologies is that the emphasis is on the SELF. God wants ME to be healthy at all times. God wants ME to endure so that I may be perfect.

In my theology, the emphasis is on glorifying God for the benefit of whoever is watching me. Who is around to see my distress so that I may witness to them for the purpose of the salvation of their souls.

I pray that God will lead you to an answer that gives you His Peace and Joy in the midst of your distress and pain.