I know what tends to happen when good people face prolonged illness and severe pain. If they are not careful they can begin to think God is punishing them for something they have done wrong or that they are suffering the consequences of some sin in their life. I’ve stood by their bed as they have suffered and tried to comfort them, reassure them and provide God’s perspective in their suffering.
Now the Bible makes it clear that it is possible for us to suffer for our sin… God can allow physical pain and disease to bring us to the realization that there are issues in our life that need to be addressed. We should not run from that reality. But, on the other hand, those who love the Lord and trust in Him should not default to self-accusation and morbid introspection. When bad things happen to good people they should renew their trust in the Lord, pray for healing and help, claim His promises and depend on the goodness of His character in faith! After all, Job’s suffering wasn’t the consequence of his sin!
I think Psalm 6 reveals that King David, faced a challenge like that sometime in His life. Now David wasn’t a perfect person (any reading of II Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 51 reveals that reality)! But God also called him “a man after my own heart who will do everything I want him to do” (1 Samuel 13:14 cp. Acts 13:22)!
So here’s my best advice to Christians who are suffering… Confess any known sin in your life, reaffirm your commitment and trust in the Lord’s promises and character, pray for healing and help, and depend on the Lord to help, heal and sustain you (and whatever you do, don’t get caught up in morbid self-condemnation!). Here’s how David expressed that in Psalm 6:
“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord – how long? Turn, O Lord, deliver my life! Save me for the sake of your steadfast love! For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol [the grave] who will give you praise? I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping… But the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping! The Lord has heard my plea! The Lord accepts my prayer!” (from Psalm 6)
Someone needed to hear this today!