BLOG: Sickness – The Good News

Written by
Melissa H. Strautman, LMT

When we Christians think of sin, we don’t think of it alongside disease; even though we know, sin causes worse than disease. “The wages of sin is death,” and without God’s mercy in choosing us to be saved, we would remain separated from Him and live eternally in hell. Well, what about sickness? We can’t help but fight against that all throughout life. Does sin cause sickness? Can sickness ever be a good thing?

Quality of Life

It was common knowledge for 1st century Jews and the disciples that real suffering could be directly tied to an individual’s personal sin or a nations sin.[1] After Jesus healed the invalid at the Bethesda pool[2], He told him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” Even in the book of Galatians, God tells us that sowing rightly in this world will lead to the highest quality of life.[3]

However, sin was not (is not) always the sole cause for suffering. Sometimes God used (uses) suffering for other reasons like…

  1. Famine –  leads to Naomi’s repentance, restoration and the lineage of Jesus.[4]
  2. Blindness – Jesus’ healing proves the authority & deity of Christ.[5]
  3. Loss of everything you own and multiple deaths – proves it is possible to have a steadfast belief in God, no matter the circumstances.[6]
  4. Death of Ananias and Sapphira – a grace from God that stopped these believers from continuing in sin. [7]

Don’t go too far.

“Again, we must be careful. Most sickness does not arise from personal sin, and Scripture cautions us against making glib connections between the two. We must make no assumptions. In certain contexts of collective double-mindedness, some sickness can be part of God’s disciplinary plan. It’s wise, then, to practice self-examination when we are sick. If and when we become aware of specific sins we haven’t been repenting of, it’s appropriate to involve our church elders in the way James outlines. Healing is not automatic, but—much more importantly—forgiveness is.” 

Sam Allberry[8]

Affliction as a friendly letter from Heaven

Famed reformer and Pastor JC Ryle implores, “the most wise and reasonable men realize that they live in a sick and dying world, and live accordingly.” Ryle gives nine directives[9] for Christians regarding behavior during sickness. I was so encouraged by his explanation of how sickness fine-tunes us to be habitually ready to meet God when we are habitually prepared to suffer patiently.

They [fruits of the spirit, like long-suffering] enable many a sick person to preach a silent sermon, which those around him never forget. Would you adorn the doctrine you profess? Would you make your Christianity beautiful in the eyes of others? Then take the hint I give you this day. Lay up a store of patience against the time of illness. Then, though your sickness be not to death, it shall be “for the glory of God.” (John 11:4)[10]

JC Ryle

For more encouraging news for the Christian heart on sickness from JC Ryle, listen to his three-part series on SermonAudio or read the entire sermon here.

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    [1] Numbers 12; 1 Corinthians 11:30; James 5:15;

    [2] John 5:14

    [3] Galatians 6:7-8

    [4] Book of Ruth

    [5] John 9:1-3

    [6] The book of Job

    [7] Acts 5: 1-11

    [8] Does Sin Cause Sickness? by Sam Allberry, The Gospel Coalition Blog, Feb. 8, 2016

    [9] Christ In The Sick Room, JC Ryle

    [10] An Excerpt from “SICKNESS” by J.C. Ryle