Good evening and Happy Sabbath! Tomorrow, we will have services in Hickory and Columbia, but not Charlotte. Also, we will begin our discussion of the booklet, "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" in Hickory.
It's been all too obvious illness has been plaguing the church of late. From COVID to head colds, it seems half of all the brethren in our local congregation have been sick. And of course, we're all aware of the illness that has devastated the church recently, including the death of Randy D'Allesandro, Pastor of the Chicago, IL and Beloit, WI congregations.
Of course, we look to God as our ultimate healer, and much of the time He does intervene to heal us. We often think of Psalm 103:2-3 (NKJV), "Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases." But how do we feel when He doesn't heal us or a loved one?
While we all hope and pray for the answer to be 'Yes' in our petition to God for healing, the reality is sometimes the answer is 'No.' God chooses not to heal at times and in fact, even allows those we've fervently prayed for to die. Did God ignore our prayers?
The short answer is no, He did not. Consider the next verse in Psalm 103, "Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies." While it might be hard to understand in the moment it happens, sometimes death is a relief from suffering. Thus, God has granted the one suffering, and often time their loved ones who have witnessed the pain, a tender mercy and lovingkindness.
Of course, harder than death sometimes, is living. Sometimes, where death might be considered a merciful relief, living or watching someone else struggle, can seem like miserable torture. This is where the first part of verse 4 comes in, "Who redeems your life from destruction."
We must remember that each of us have been redeemed - bought back - by God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Our lives, and ultimately the lives of all human beings, belong to God. While the body might suffer now, we have been saved from a permanent destruction, via the gift of eternal life. All who are willing to yield themselves to and obey God, will be redeemed from destruction.
The hardest part
Of course, no suffering seems pleasant at the moment as we read in Hebrews 12:11, but the end of it is the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Sometimes, the part we want to get over the most - the waiting for the answer - is the part God knows we need the most.
As we see and deal with illness and trials in our midst, let's continue to pray for God's merciful intervention and healing. But let's also pray that through it, He helps us bear the fruit that reflects His righteous character!