Bread – Sick

October 24, 2016


Psalm 38

“There is no soundness in my flesh…there is no health in my bones…My wounds stink and fester…I am utterly bowed down and prostrate…For sides are filled with burning…I am feeble and crushed…My heart throbs; my strength fails me…”  Ps. 38:3-10

As I write this, I am sick from the change of weather, something blowing in the wind, and a vicious attack on my sinuses.

As I write this, our nation is sick as well, suffering from excess, from ignorance, from selfishness, from dishonesty.  It is well on its way to being “feeble and crushed,” with “no health in [its] bones.”

There are distinct causes of these sicknesses described in this Psalm, basically boiling down to our sin and our resulting chasing after the ways of the world rather than the ways of God.  “There is no health in my bones because of my sin…My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness…”  Ps. 38:3b,5a

We have three choices when we are sick: one is to lay on our bed in defeat, another is to help ourselves get better, and the third is to turn to someone else to help us get better.  It is interesting that we seem to follow these alternatives as steps in a process.  When we first get sick, we tend to wallow around in it feeling sorry for ourselves.  Then, we get out of bed and start rummaging around in our medicine chests trying to find some remedy which we think (or know) worked in the past [we self-medicate].  Finally, if retreat and self-treatment have not worked, we finally work up the courage to go see a health care professional, knowing there is a 50-50 chance that we will be throwing our money away on the advice to retreat until we get better [go back to bed] or will get an unpleasant shot or maybe a prescription for medicines which stand a 50-50 chance of working and cost a small fortune.

But, if we have read Psalm 38, we know that there is a fourth step we can take.  That is to recognize that the Lord knows what is going on [“my sighing is not hidden from You” Ps. 38:9b] and ask Him for mercy to relieve you of your circumstances.

Sometimes the simplest prayers are the best – “Lord, I am sick.  Please have mercy on me and heal me.”

Knowing that, when we are sick, why do we not pray this simple prayer?  Maybe it is because we are afraid God will show up.  Maybe it is because we forget that we don’t have to go through the retreat, to the self-medication, and to the help of the world – we can jump to step four.  But to do that we have to raise our eyes to heaven, from whence cometh our help.

And that is so hard to do when all we can think about is how sick we are.

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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Bread – Disease

August 17, 2016


Psalm 31

I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the distress of my soul…Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.  For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” Ps. 31:7,9-10

A child has a form of strep infection which causes their skin to slough off, and requires treatment as if they had been burned.  Another child develops an infection in his bone.  A young adult dies at 39 from some kind of a stroke; another dies from a drug overdose; another dies from suicide, for some reason giving up on themselves and us.   An older adult finds out that they have a particularly aggressive kind of cancer.  Another is told that they need to start taking pain medications so that, as they die, they will not hurt so bad.  Another is attacked by shingles, another by pneumonia, another by some new bacteria or virus floating in the air.  And then there are those of us whose self is disappearing in the arms of Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.

Disease is around us and in us.  Some of it is curable, at least to some degree, and other is not, at least by modern medicine.  To some are granted the miracle of recovery and to others, not.

David, our Psalmist, talks about some kind of disease which has overtaken him.  Whether it is the disease of depression, the disease of cancer, the disease of heartache, the disease of fear, the disease of the heart or of the bone or of the eye or the ear, we do not know.  Whatever it is, it is causing him great sorrow and distress to the point that he is spending his years with sighing.  He is feeling sorry for himself and that is OK, because he is sick, he is diseased, he is hurting, and he cannot figure a way out.

But there is a deeper disease, affecting all of mankind, and David acknowledges this in this phrase – “my strength fails because of my iniquity.”  The Hebrew word “iniquity” here means depravity; it is sin.   “My strength fails because of my sinfulness, because I am full of sin.”

We know this from the entirety of Scripture.  All were cast down from perfection by Adam’s disobedience; all are full of iniquity (sin), all fall short.  We are all filled with the disease of exile from Eden, and with the disease caused by our own disobedience to God and caused by the brokenness of the world, caused by disobedience to God.

So, when we are diseased and are suffering and God appears to do nothing about it, should we be mad at Him, particularly when we claim to follow Him, believe in Him, trust in Him, live in Him?  If we are loyal to God by attending church and praying and worshiping and reading His Word, shouldn’t we be blessed with protection from disease?  Shouldn’t we be able to summon up a miracle on demand?

David knows better and so do we.  David is rejoicing because he knows that God knows his suffering, He knows “the distress of my soul.”  And David says the only thing he, and we can say, “Be gracious to me, O Lord.”  We tend to think of being gracious as being nice.  It is not being nice – being gracious is being merciful.  Our disease is the natural result of the state within which exists because of Adam and because of us.  God has no obligation to us.  We cannot earn His good pleasure, His mercy, His graciousness.  It is only mercy because it is freely given, in God’s sovereignty, when He wants and for the purpose He intends.

If you think about it, the biggest disease we suffer is our own belief that we deserve something, when we in fact deserve nothing.  All is a gift of God, a gracious act by Him.  If we are rich, it is God’s gift to us.  If we are powerful, it is because God has set us in this place.  If we are saved, it is because God has acted to save us.

You want to get rid of disease?  Kneel before the Lord, Your God.  Trust in Him.  Follow Him.  Obey Him.

And if we suffer from a medical condition, that suffering will not matter because it will fade into the glory of God’s presence in our lives.   His presence with us in suffering will be enough, because He is enough.

How is this possible?  Because we give up the me and the we … and follow the He.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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