Disease is a torrential flesh and blood battle pummeling and leaving devastation to our bodies, minds, and families. The wreckage is complete if our faith in God is swallowed up during the onslaught of disease. But if we fix our eyes on the Author of our faith rather than flesh and blood battles we will experience and embrace the fulfillment of His promises and purposes for our lives. At the same time there should be no shortage of compassion and encouragement for those whose lives are riddled with sickness, disease, pain, and suffering. I remember well the times in life when I would rather die than live to escape the racking pain throughout my body. Knowing God is Jehovah-Rapha, my Healer, brought hope but also became a source of frustration when I did not experience the expected manifestation of healing in my body. I struggled to make sense of the suffering, longing to be set free from this earthly body to be with the Lord and at the same time believed for complete restoration.
This conflict can occur every time we are confronted with disease and death. Paul said it this way in Romans 14:8 “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Both scenarios “work” when we have surrendered to Christ and live in Him. Living and dying to the Lord involves engaging in “The Fight” of faith not surrendering or fighting against disease or circumstances. As believers in Christ Jesus we are not to “battle cancer”, “fight heart disease”, or “struggle with depression”. Though these are real enemies in life, they are flesh and blood battles not worthy of a wrestling match. (Ephesians 6:12) When we do engage in these battles we often hear people speak of losing the battle against cancer and other disease. Friends, in Christ we never lose! We live and die to the Lord!
We are to arm ourselves in Christ with the weapons of warfare He has provided which are not carnal but mighty in Him! (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) We must ask ourselves if we are willing to engage in “The Fight” or are we going to continue to battle against the enemies of this world because in order to say “yes” to living and dying we must enter the faith battle. Today, even in the Church, we almost detest the thought of dying in the hopes that if we don’t talk about it, perhaps it won’t happen. But be encouraged by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:8-9 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” Be encouraged even more by Paul’s words concerning life and death in Philippians 1:19-23 “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Wouldn’t it be great to take up this attitude now rather than in the midst of sickness or disease?
The problem in Christian suffering and death are the questions that arise as a result. We ask all sorts of “why” questions when we should ask “what” questions. We ask “Why doesn’t healing come to our bodies and minds” instead of “What do we do when healing doesn’t come?” We ask “Why do our loved ones die even though we believed they would be healed” instead of “What do we do with the reality of death when what we believe for doesn’t occur?” We ask “Why are loved ones sick, depressed, committing suicide, or dying early” instead of “What are we to do when devastation escalates leaving us confused and angry at life, people, or God?” Why questions leave us victimized with no satisfactory answers while what questions drive us to our knees seeking Him, stirring up hope and a willingness to fight for our faith in a God who fights for us and provides answers!
We will never be satisfied with the “why” answers though they are clearly spelled out in Scripture. Sickness and disease exist because of sin, rebellion, disobedience, the results of living in a sinful world, and Satan’s influence, whose whole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy our faith in God! Though we twist Scripture or completely ignore it in an effort to explain “why” we suffer we should already know “why” these things happen. But when we ask “What now Lord?” we will pick up the sword of the Spirit (the Bible) and engage in “The Fight” of faith rather than hear and say what we want to believe. Even though we tend to pick up as many other weapons as possible when the fight is on, the Word of God is the only offensive weapon we need and the only one we have been given. Friends, it is easy to get entangled in earthly battles which are not ours to fight. When battling flesh and blood battles we end up with flesh and blood prizes which are temporary. The truth is it is even easier to get entwined with God, spend time in His Word, let Holy Spirit guide us into truth and fight the good fight of faith. When engaging in this spiritual warfare we gain spiritual prizes which are eternal!
You might be reading this thinking your fight in this world is harder than most people. You might be suffering with disease, loss, addiction, confusion, depression, or a host of other things or you are helping a loved one who is suffering. Perhaps you have lost loved ones to these things. You might read this and say “Well, it is easy for you to say because you are not in my shoes.” And you are right! You might have it worse than 99% of the world population and yet, God is with you. He will never leave or forsake you. His Word is true – 100% of it! And when we choose to train and engage in the “The Fight” of faith we win – every time because that fight is fixed!
Whenever we think we have endured more than anyone else look what Paul says he experienced in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. He received 39 lashes five times, was beaten with rods three times, stoned, was shipwrecked three times, in the deep (dungeon or cave), suffered the perils of water, robbers, his own people and foreigners, was faced with perils in the country, city, sea, and even suffered peril among false brothers and sisters who claimed to be “for” him. He experienced weariness, labor, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, numerous fastings, and spent much of his time cold and naked (in need). We cannot begin to fathom the “after effects” of all this physical pain, torture, suffering, and persecution and could easily conclude he lived with persistent pain and suffering.
But Paul boasted in these infirmities because the power of Christ rested on him. His infirmity did not hold him back but rather propelled him in ministry. He fought “The Fight” of faith not the fight of infirmity. He endured more than most but in the midst of it all His eyes were fixed, he fought well, he finished, and kept the faith. He did not let “life”, no matter how bad it got, keep him from engaging in the only worthy fight. We on the other hand get distracted and consumed with life battles, caring for ourselves and meeting our needs, forgetting to stand, walk, and fight in faith, thus get disenchanted and discouraged when we don’t “come through” suffering as we think we should. This is largely because we don’t know what the fight is, much less know our part in the fight.
This fight is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!” What a proclamation – Fought, finished, Kept! This fight is explained in 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Paul had every opportunity to fight against disease, the devil, and everything else we fight today, but he knew what the good fight was – faith!
Laying hold of eternal life is central to the truth of the Gospel message. I have written it before but will say again – we must know what eternal life is in order to lay hold of it. Jesus tells us in John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Eternal life is not just the life we live in heaven some day. It is all about knowing the Father and Jesus Christ. We have an Advocate, the Holy Spirit to help us know Jesus more each day. 1 John 5:11-13, 20 also confirms this knowledge of eternal life. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things are written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
Friends, this is good news. This is great news! We will no longer need to “make things up” about God or our loved ones in an effort to bring comfort when we suffer and die if we understand eternal life does not wait for heaven. We experience it now! We may know and live in Him who is true! This knowing and living IS God and it IS eternal life! I hope you grasp this truth! Eternal life is knowing and living in GOD today! Laying hold of eternal life means laying hold of Jesus! Laying hold of Jesus means we fight for our faith in Him no matter what is happening in life. We fight for and in Him! Fighting against other things only keeps us from knowing and living in Him to the fullest! Knowing eternal life is the answer for “What now Lord?” We have the privilege of sharing this good news NOW! What are we waiting for?
When faced with disease, torment, suffering, pain, poverty, loneliness, depression, or any other “enemy” in this world, step out of the battle against these things and choose “The Fight” that is fixed in your favor! The one of faith! Listen to God’s Word and let it propel you into ministry no matter what enemy is trying to keep you from fighting the good fight of faith! Live your eternal life today! You can – by knowing Him!