The Biblical Way to Suffer Through Illness

The following is a written preview of our new Q&A style podcast where Pastor Foley takes questions related to the Whole Life Offering discipleship training model. Subscribe now!

Q: I know of ministries that have told people who are sick or dying that they don’t have enough faith or they would be healed. Can you expound on why, even in weakness and illness, we are able to bear the image of God?

A: First of all, when we think about the Savior, we think about someone who willingly went to the cross and bore our sins. That’s the best picture we ever get of God. It is at that moment that he reveals his glory. And even after he is resurrected, he bears the marks of his crucifixion. So, we have to wonder whether we’ve misunderstood what perfection in God means. We think about perfection in a human sense where it’s like getting a perfect score on a test. But that kind of perfect love that willingly bears all things and praises God in the midst of that without needing to have full, complete knowledge of the outcome – that’s how Christ is shaping us in his image.

We trust God when we don’t understand everything. He doesn’t have to earn our trust in every single situation because he’s been faithful to us thus far, so we know that he’s being faithful to us even now. So when someone says, “You’re not being healed because you don’t have enough faith” the implication is that perfection in that case is healing.

But it’s interesting how, when we think about our own spiritual lives, there are things we come to understand about God that we could only have understood by going through and bearing illness. There are things that we can only understand having gone through pain. That’s particularly true when we do it willingly.  That doesn’t mean that we get sick on purpose, but it does mean we have a choice every time we encounter illness to choose how we are going to experience it. Are we going to experience it as something that comes counter to the will of God? Or are we going to experience it by saying, “I believe  that God’s grace is still present to me in the midst of this and that neither height nor depth, neither principality nor power, nor things in the past nor things to come, can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. I believe that in this illness I can still experience the fullness of God’s grace!”

That’s our proclamation as Christians and it is absolutely Scriptural. We praise God when healing happens when it doesn’t because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Submit your questions to Pastor Foley by posting a comment or emailing us at [email protected].

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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