How Should Christians Practice When Sickness Befalls?
By Du Shuai
- 1. Understand the Origin of Sickness and Do Not Complain Against God
- 2. By Following the Laws of Life Set Down by God, We Can Reduce Instances of Sickness
- 3. Be at Peace Before God and Reflect on Yourself, and Confess and Repent to God
- 4. During the Refinement 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. I was therefore confused about this matter: When sickness befalls us, how should we experience it in order to be able to face it calmly and to have true faith in God? I often prayed and sought with God about this, and I sought and fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters until, after some time, I understood: When we get sick, only by understanding what God’s intention is behind our getting sick and by mastering four principles of practice can we resolve our feelings of unease, panic and helplessness, and generate true faith in God. I shall here share my small, simple bit of understanding with my brothers and sisters 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. … Thus, this suffering was brought down upon humans by Satan” (“The Significance of God’s Tasting of Worldly Suffering”).
As we all know, Adam and Eve in the beginning heeded God’s words and obeyed Him and 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 shunned and 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 philosophies such as “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “There has never been any Savior,” “One’s destiny is in his own hand,” “A man dies for money; a bird dies for food,” “No pain, no gain,” “You must win your own happiness,” “Money makes the world go round.” Satan constantly indoctrinates people with these heresies and fallacies through such channels as education in schools, the influence of parents and communication through social environments. Once we have been poisoned and influenced by these heresies and fallacies, 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, even at the cost of our own health. 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 in the future, we should be reasonable and take the correct approach to it, and we should not blame or misunderstand God.
2. By Following the Laws of Life Set Down by God, We Can Reduce Instances of Sickness
Sometimes, we can get sick because we have violated the laws of life set down for man by God. God’s word says, “Several thousand years have passed, and mankind still enjoys the light and air bestowed by God, still breathes the breath exhaled by God Himself, still enjoys the flowers, birds, fish and insects created by God, and enjoys all the things provided by God; day and night still continually replace each other; the four seasons alternate as usual…. Every kind of living creature amongst all things departs and returns, and then departs again, a million changes occurring in the twinkling of an eye—but what doesn’t change are their instincts and the laws of survival. They live under the provision and nourishment of God, and no one can change their instincts, and neither can anyone impair their rules of survival” (“God Himself, the Unique I”).
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 are becoming more and more 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. Especially in this age of advanced science and technology, people can buy anything they need without even having to leave their home, and many people do not get enough exercise. Sitting in front of a computer for a long time in one position can cause poor circulation, soreness and pain in the back, legs, neck and shoulders and, in severe cases, can cause cervical spondylosis and lumbar disc protrusions. 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 rest 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.
3. Be at Peace Before God and Reflect on Yourself, and Confess and Repent to God
God’s word says, “When the suffering of illness befalls you, how should you experience it? You should come before God to pray, seeking to fathom His will and examining what kinds of transgressions you have made or what corruptions you have not yet resolved. You cannot but suffer physically. Only by being tempered through suffering can people cease to be unbridled and always live before God. When people feel upset, they always pray, reflecting upon whether they have done anything wrong or how they may have offended God. This is beneficial for them. When people suffer great pain and trials, it certainly does not happen by chance” (“You Must Regard All Things From the Perspective of the Truth”). 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, selfish and contemptible, crooked and deceitful and wicked and greedy, 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. In order to awaken us and to make us no longer rebel against or resist Him, and so that we are not fooled and harmed under Satan’s domain, God uses the refinement of sickness to make us reflect on and know ourselves and to make us turn back to Him in time. This precisely fulfills the words 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, to understand that God hates us living in sin and is gladdened when we put His words into practice and live by His words to live out a human likeness. From this, we are able to appreciate God’s painstaking efforts to save us, and our hearts can’t help but revere Him, we come to hate our corrupt dispositions even more, and then we can be resolved to repent and change and resolved to pursue the life.
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 couldn’t help but wonder: “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 in service to God, 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. The sister 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, and her attempts to steal God’s glory had disgusted Him. 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, the sister felt very ashamed and remorseful, and 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 in service to God, she was able to consciously deny herself, and 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 refinement of sickness and pain was so beneficial to people, for it was actually God’s true love and protection for man. During her experience, she gained some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition: While she had been living in corruption, unaware that she had to change direction, God used her sickness to discipline her and impel her to quiet her heart and reflect on herself; when she turned back to God, God guided her and enlightened her to know her own corrupt disposition and to understand God’s will; when she repented to God and began to put the truth into practice, she enjoyed the work of the Holy Spirit and her sickness gradually got better. The sister 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.
4. During the Refinement 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, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them” (Zechariah 13:9). From God’s words we understand that, during the process of God saving us, God will arrange all kinds of situations to trial and refine us, thereby exposing and purifying our corrupt dispositions and the defilements in our faith. At the same time, He arranges situations to perfect our faith in Him and love for Him. Sickness is one way in which God refines 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, ultimately, 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 trials 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 worship God; 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, but can persevere in our faith in God and in pursuing the truth, and we can perform our duties to the best of our abilities and not let our sickness interfere with our life progression. 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 manner of trials is something we should seek and enter into. I hope that the four principles of practice that have been fellowshiped above may help you to overcome the hurdle of sickness, and I truly wish that brothers and sisters can understand God’s will, gain the truth and stand witness in every trial. May God guide us and bless us. Amen.