How Should We Christians Practice When Sickness Befalls?
By Du Shuai
- 1. Understand the Origin of Sickness and Do Not Complain Against God
- 2. Be at Peace Before God and Examine Your Corruption and Transgressions, and Confess and Truly Repent to God
- 3. During the Suffering of Sickness, Have Faith and Stand Witness for God
The phrase “scramble around to find a doctor when you’re sick” directly reflects people’s feelings of anxiety, helplessness and panic when they get sick. As Christians, although we know that everything is created by God, that God gave us our very breath and that God rules and arranges the life and death of man, we can still feel at a loss as to what to do when confronted by sickness. Many people are confused about this matter: “What is God’s intention when sickness befalls us? How should we experience it in line with God’s will?” Today I will talk a bit about my own understanding in regard to this issue and share with you 3 principles of practice of how to handle disease, in the hope that it will be of some help to you all.
1. Understand the Origin of Sickness and Do Not Complain Against God
When we get sick, everyone will have their own ideas about it, and some brothers and sisters will complain about their sickness, saying such things as: “How could I get this sickness when I believe in God?” and “Why doesn’t God watch over and protect me?” There are also some brothers and sisters who will think that they have gotten sick because they have displeased God in some way and God is not happy with them, and so they despair and give up, and they misunderstand and blame God in their negative state…. These are expressions of states we can have when we get sick, and they are all caused because we don’t understand the origin of sickness. Actually, no matter what kind of sickness we get, we should not blame God or misunderstand God, because sickness comes from Satan, because it came about after we were corrupted by Satan. God’s word says, “What is the source of the lifelong suffering from birth, death, illness, and old age that humans endure? What caused people to have these things? Humans did not have them when they were first created, did they? Where, then, did these things come from? They came into being after humans were tempted by Satan and their flesh became degenerate. The pain of human flesh, its afflictions, and its emptiness, as well as the extremely miserable affairs of the human world, only came once Satan had corrupted mankind. After humans were corrupted by Satan, it began to torment them. As a result, they became more and more degenerate. The diseases of humanity grew more and more acute, and their suffering became more and more severe. Increasingly, people sensed the emptiness and tragedy of the human world, as well as their inability to go on living there, and they felt less and less hope for the world. Thus, this suffering was brought down upon humans by Satan” (“The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days).
As we all know, before being corrupted by Satan, Adam and Eve heededand they lived in the Garden of Eden under God’s care and protection and entirely free from worry; they knew no sickness or death, much less any distress or worry. Later, Adam and Eve were seduced by Satan into eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden them to eat, and so they betrayed God, they lost God’s care and protection and they fell under the domain of Satan. Therefore, sickness, worry, emptiness, death and so on fell upon mankind. For thousands of years, Satan has used the heresies and fallacies of famous and great people to deceive and corrupt man, for example atheism, materialism and evolutionism, as well as various satanic axioms of logic and philosophies and heretical fallacies such as “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “A man dies for money; a bird dies for food,” “There has never been any Savior,” “One’s destiny is in his own hand,” “Money makes the world go round,” and “No pain, no gain.” Satan constantly indoctrinates us with these satanic things through such channels as schooling, the education of our parents and communication through social environments. Once we have accepted these heresies and fallacies and philosophies and axioms, we then deny the existence of God and the sovereignty of God, we no longer believe that it is God who provides for us and sustains us, and we no longer believe that God rules each of our destinies. Instead, we rely on the various heresies, fallacies, philosophies and axioms of Satan to live and we advocate money, become attached to vanity, and we pursue fame, fortune and status. In order to obtain a higher level of material enjoyment, we expend all our thought, we rack our brains, we rush all around and work so hard, and we pay any price. When we have worked hard but our desires for money, fame, fortune and status are not satisfied, we can become anxious, angry and irritable, and can even become disillusioned with life. Long-term feelings of oppression and pain in life can not only make us exhausted in both body and mind and cause us to experience extreme suffering, but can also cause our bodies to experience all kinds of different conditions, such as dizziness and tightness in the chest, neurasthenia and, in severe cases, we can even develop such illnesses as depression, hypertension and heart disease. In order to get into a good school and stand out from the crowd, some students immerse themselves completely in study and go all out to study hard, and thus at a young age develop cervical spondylosis and neurasthenia; when they fail their college entrance exams, some students can’t take it, and they feel down every day and develop severe depression. There are also many people who, in order to make more money and come out on top, overwork themselves beyond their body’s capacity to endure and develop problems with their backs, their legs, their necks and their shoulders, their stomachs and their hearts, and can even die of exhaustion. These are just a few examples, and from them we can see that sickness is the result of the corruption and harm inflicted on us by Satan, and it is the result caused by our denial of God, our shunning and betrayal of God, and our pursuit of wealth, fame, fortune and status by relying on our own hard work. Therefore, when we get sick, we should be reasonable and take the correct approach to it, and we should not blame or misunderstand God.
Sometimes, we can get sick because we, in order to satisfy our physical desires, have violated the laws of life set down for man by God.
God created all things in heaven and on earth and He created mankind. God also laid down the rules and laws of life for mankind and for all things. For example, God prescribed for mankind that we should eat three meals a day, work in the daytime and rest at night, and eat the food God provides for us in accordance with the seasons, and so on. Only by following the laws of life God has laid down for man, by enjoying the daily bread God bestows on us and by living on earth in an orderly way can we avoid some illnesses, and we will then naturally come to have healthy bodies. We have been profoundly corrupted by Satan, however, and there is no place for God in our hearts. In order to satisfy our physical desires, most of the time we violate the laws of life which God has laid down for man and we do not live orderly lives, and this in turn results in our bodies being afflicted by all manner of sicknesses. For example, some people often play games on their phones or they are out having fun till the early hours or even all night, and their irregular lives and patterns of work and rest cause them to develop endocrine disorders, lethargy, liver damage and so on, which in the long run can lead to various physical problems. Some people covet physical pleasures and, in order to satisfy their appetite, they often do such things as eat and drink as much as they want, they eat food that is not in season or food that is raw, cold or greasy, and they even eat junk food over a long period, which then leads to nutritional deficiencies and decreased immunity, and they develop enteritis, stomach problems, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Some develop hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipemia and even cancer, etc. These examples are all the bitter fruits of violating the laws of life which God has laid down for us. Therefore, we should follow the laws of life laid down by God and, according to our individual circumstances, make appropriate adjustments to our patterns of work and rest so that we work in the daytime and sleep at proper time at night, and we should keep exercising and get out in the fresh air more. In terms of diet, we should not focus on flavor, but on nutrition. Living this kind of regular, orderly life can reduce instances of sickness to a certain extent.
2. Be at Peace Before God and Examine Your Corruption and Transgressions, and Confess and Truly Repent to God
God’s word says, “How should the onset of sickness be experienced? You should come before God to pray and seek to grasp His will, and examine just what it is that you did wrong, or what corrupt dispositions there are within you that you cannot resolve. You cannot resolve your corrupt dispositions without pain. People must be tempered by pain; only then will they cease to be dissolute and live before God at all times. When faced with suffering, people will always pray. There will be no thought of food, clothing, or fun; in their hearts, they will pray, and examine whether they have done anything wrong during this time. Most of the time, when people are beset by serious illness or some unusual sickness, and it causes them great pain, these things do not happen by accident; whether you are sick or healthy, God’s will is behind it all. … At the onset of illness or pain, do you pray to God and seek God? And does the Holy Spirit merely enlighten and illuminate you? This is not the only way He works. How does God test people? Is it not through making them suffer pain? Where there are trials, there is pain—how could people suffer without trials? And how could people change without suffering? When trials are accompanied by pain, this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes God gives people pain, or else they would be unaware of heaven’s heights or earth’s depths, and they would become insolent. In some matters, merely relying on fellowshiping on the truth will not solve the problem. Other people point out your problem to you, and you yourself are aware of it, but you are unable to change. No matter how you rely on your willpower to exercise self-restraint, perhaps even going so far as to slap yourself about the face and knock yourself about the head, it still does not solve the problem, for your nature still exists within you. This thing is alive, it is like the living thoughts of man, and it can appear at any time. So what can you do if it cannot be solved? People must be refined by certain illnesses, and when they are, there are those who cannot bear the torment and begin to pray and seek. Before you get sick, you are dissolute and insolent, but sickness makes you well-behaved. Could you still be insolent? When your every word is feeble, could you still lecture people, could you still be arrogant? At such times, you ask for nothing, only for the pain to end, and you give no thought to what to eat, what to wear, what to enjoy. Most of you have yet to experience such a feeling. When you have, you will understand” (“See All Things Through the Eyes of Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words show us the path of practice concerning how we should experience sickness. Although some sicknesses are caused by the laws of nature, there are others which also do not happen for no reason, and God’s good intention and good will are behind these sicknesses, as God arranges them so that our corruption and rebelliousness may be cleansed and changed. Because we have been so deeply corrupted by Satan and we are filled with such satanic dispositions as being arrogant and conceited, crooked and deceitful, wicked, and ferocious, we are often incapable of stopping ourselves from sinning and resisting God. For example, as we work and preach for God, we often boast and we show ourselves off concerning how much we have suffered, how far we have gone and how much work we have done, which causes brothers and sisters to idolize and look to us, and they have no place for God in their hearts. Sometimes, in order to maintain our prestige and status, we can’t help but tell lies and deceive people, and we often say one thing to people’s faces and another behind their backs. Sometimes, when we see that our co-workers are better at giving sermons than us and brothers and sisters all want to hear them, we can feel envious and resentful, and we don’t want there to be anyone who is better or stronger than us, so much so that we judge, belittle and exclude them. Sometimes, our hearts can become attracted to evil trends and we cling to money and enjoy material things, we shun God and do not pursue the truth. These are just some examples. Though we know we shouldn’t act that way, we cannot help but do the same things again when something comes up. In order to save us from sinfulness, and so that we are not fooled and harmed under Satan’s domain, God uses the sickness to make us reflect on and know ourselves and to make us turn back to Him. It’s just as it says in the Bible: “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Hebrews 12:6). Therefore, when we get sick, we should come before God, pray and seek God’s will, reflect on our relationship with God and on whether or not we have done anything against God’s will and requirements. In the course of our praying, seeking and reflecting, God will enlighten and guide us so that we are able to see clearly our corruption and rebelliousness, whilst at the same time come to understand God’s righteousness and holiness. Our hearts can’t help but revere Him, we come to hate our corrupt dispositions even more, and then we can be resolved to pursue the truth well, repent and change. From this, we can see that it is God’s love when illness befalls, and within it is contained His earnest intention to save us.
I once heard a sister give an account of her experiences in this regard. One day, the sister suddenly got a cold. She developed a fever of 39 degrees, and her condition got no better even after she had injections and took medicine. She wondered: “My cold is getting no better, so could it be because I’ve done something at odds with God’s will?” The sister went before God to seek His will, and she reflected on her situation over the past few days. She thought that, ever since she took on the position of church leader, she had been able to give sermons and perform some work, and she had been able to resolve some of the difficulties and problems of her brothers and sisters, and so she felt like she was good at pursuing the truth, better than everyone else, and she had often felt very pleased with herself and had admired herself greatly. When co-workers pointed out some shortcomings in her work, although she appeared to accept this on the surface, her heart would not accept it, and sometimes she would try to justify her actions to her co-workers. When her co-workers made some reasonable suggestions about church work, she did not seek or contemplate to see whether or not her co-workers’ suggestions accorded with the truth, but instead she clung to her own views and rejected her co-workers’ views and opinions. This led to her being unable to work harmoniously together with her co-workers, and it caused obstructions to the work of the church. After she reflected on herself, the sister realized that she had been too arrogant and conceited, that she had not accepted or submitted to the truth, that she did not have a God-fearing heart and that not only was her life being damaged but that she had also been delaying the church’s work. She was filled with remorse and realized that she was someone who had been corrupted by Satan, and if it wasn’t for the guidance of God, she wouldn’t have been able to perform any work at all. That she was able to perform a little work and could resolve some of her brothers’ and sisters’ difficulties and problems was entirely down to God’s work, but she even attempted to steal God’s glory. She realized that she was so devoid of conscience and reason and felt very ashamed and remorseful. At the same time, the sister also came to understand that God’s will was for her to be able to pursue the truth in the course of carrying out her duty, to work together harmoniously with brothers and sisters, to bring everyone’s strengths to bear, for everyone to learn from each other’s strengths and, together, to fulfill the work God had commissioned them to do, for only in that way would the church’s work be done better and better. After she had come to this understanding, she hurriedly repented and confessed her sins to God. She then practiced being an honest person in accordance with God’s words and became very open with her brothers and sisters about her own corruptions. Afterward, when she performed church work and when she successfully resolved the problems of her brothers and sisters, she would offer up her thanks and praise to God and acknowledge that the glory was God’s. When working together with her co-workers, so long as any co-worker’s suggestion was in keeping with the truth and was beneficial to the church’s work, she would always accept it. When the sister began to practice in this way, her state was remedied and, without her being aware of it, her sickness got better. After this experience, the sister understood that the sickness was so beneficial to her, for it was actually God’s true love and protection for her. During her experience, she gained some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition. She came to appreciate that God is beside us, working practically to save us from corruption. She also came to understand that, when sickness befalls us, by praying to God and learning to grasp God’s will and by reflecting on and knowing ourselves, we can then learn many lessons from it—sickness is actually an excellent opportunity for us to enter into the truth.
3. During the Suffering of Sickness, Have Faith and Stand Witness for God
There are a couple of sayings that go, “When a parent is sick for a long time, even the most filial son will leave their bedside,” and “Time reveals a man’s heart.” When we have only just become sick, we still have the faith to go through it; we can pray to God and examine ourselves for issues and we can focus on remedying our wrong states. But when our sickness continues and does not get better, we then perhaps start to make unreasonable demands of God and can even blame and misunderstand God. So how should we experience such a situation as this? What is God’s will? God’s word says, “While undergoing trials, it is normal for people to be weak, or to have negativity within them, or to lack clarity on God’s will or their path for practice. But in any case, you must have faith in God’s work, and not deny God, just like Job. Although Job was weak and cursed the day of his own birth, he did not deny that all things in human life were bestowed by Jehovah, and that Jehovah is also the One to take them all away. No matter how he was tested, he maintained this belief. In your experience, no matter what refinement you undergo through God’s words, what God requires of mankind, in brief, is their faith and their love for Him. What He perfects by working in this way is people’s faith, love, and aspirations. God does the work of perfection on people, and they cannot see it, cannot feel it; under such circumstances, your faith is required. People’s faith is required when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you do not have clarity about God’s work, what is required of you is to have faith and to take a firm stance and stand witness. When Job reached this point, God appeared to him and spoke to him. That is, it is only from within your faith that you will be able to see God, and when you have faith God will perfect you. Without faith, He cannot do this. God will bestow upon you whatever you hope to gain. If you do not have faith, then you cannot be perfected and you will be unable to see God’s actions, much less His omnipotence. When you have faith that you will see His actions in your practical experience, then God will appear to you, and He will enlighten and guide you from within. Without that faith, God will be unable to do that. If you have lost hope in God, how will you be able to experience His work? Therefore, only when you have faith and you do not harbor doubts toward God, only when you have true faith in Him no matter what He does, will He enlighten and illuminate you through your experiences, and only then will you be able to see His actions. These things are all achieved through faith. Faith comes only through refinement, and in the absence of refinement, faith cannot develop. What does this word, ‘faith,’ refer to? Faith is the genuine belief and the sincere heart that humans should possess when they cannot see or touch something, when God’s work does not align with human notions, when it is beyond human reach. This is the faith that I speak of. People are in need of faith during times of hardship and refinement, and faith is something that is followed by refinement; refinement and faith cannot be separated. No matter how God works, and no matter your environment, you are able to pursue life and seek the truth, and seek knowledge of God’s work, and have an understanding of His actions, and you are able to act according to the truth. Doing so is what it is to have true faith, and doing so shows that you have not lost faith in God. You can only have true faith in God if you are able to persist in pursuing the truth through refinement, if you are able to truly love God and do not develop doubts about Him, if no matter what He does you still practice the truth to satisfy Him, and if you are able to seek in the depths for His will and be considerate of His will. In the past, when God said that you would reign as a king, you loved Him, and when He openly showed Himself to you, you pursued Him. But now God is hidden, you cannot see Him, and troubles have come upon you—do you then now lose hope in God? So, you must at all times pursue life and seek to satisfy God’s will. This is called genuine faith, and this is the truest and most beautiful kind of love” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement). From God’s words we understand that, during the process of God saving us, God will arrange all kinds of situations to perfect our faith in Him and love for Him. Sickness is one way in which God tests us and, as we experience it, we must keep our faith in God. Whether our sickness gets better or not, we must not make unreasonable demands of God, but should continue to stand in the place of a created being, submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and stand witness for God.
As recorded in the Bible, for example, Job followed God’s way, and he feared God and shunned evil. God commended Job’s faith and called Job a perfect man in His eyes. Satan, however, was not convinced, and it wanted Job to deny and betray God, and so it tempted Job many times and caused his body to erupt in painful boils, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. Though Job was in extreme pain, he never blamed God, but instead said such rational things as, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10) and stood firm in his testimony to God. As he underwent this trial, Job was able to avoid speaking sinfully because, in his everyday life, he appreciated from within all the things God had created God’s almightiness and sovereignty as well as God’s love for man; he knew very well that he was only a created being that should submit to God’s orchestrations. Although his bodily pain caused him to suffer incredible torment, he always feared God in his heart, he was able to accept and obey from the bottom of his heart what was happening to him, he was not constrained by his sickness and, in the end, Satan fled in shame. God therefore commended Job and appeared to him in the wind and spoke to him. Job’s faith in God was distilled through such trials; he treasured and enjoyed such trials, and his heart was filled with peace and joy. We can see from the trials of Job that some sicknesses are the tests of God, but because we have corrupt dispositions, they can also be said to be the temptations of Satan. Satan wants to use sickness to destroy our faith in God, to make us blame God, betray God and leave God. Yet the wisdom of God is exercised based on the deceitful schemes of Satan and, through sickness, God perfects our faith in Him. We believe that our fates are in God’s hands and that God decides when we are born, when we die and what sicknesses we will get, and choosing to entrust God with it all and submit to His orchestrations is the best choice we can make. In this way, we can submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, we are no longer constrained by sickness, and we can continue to stand in the place of a created being to ; we can draw closer to God as we should and pursue the truth well as we should; we can persevere in doing the duty of a created being and we can face it calmly whether God takes our sickness away or not; even if we are sick all our lives, we will not complain. This is the witness we should bear before God, and by practicing in this way, our hearts will feel at ease and at peace.
Finally, we must take note that, as we examine ourselves and experience God’s work when we get sick, we can choose to seek medical help or get through it by relying on our faith—there are no rules about this. What is most important is that we are able to gain the truth from it and that our lives see some progression and reap some results.
Brothers and sisters, living in this world we will encounter things we never expected every single day, such as the torment of illness, the shortcomings of life, the persecution of our families and the vilification of worldly people, and so on. As Christians, how we should seek and understand God’s will and learn the lessons in order to gain the truth in all environments that don’t fit with our notions is something we should seek and enter into. I hope that the three principles of practice that have been fellowshiped above may be helpful for you. Thank God!