When friends hurt

Missionary friends of mine in went from having great joy to great sorrow.  A true believer was baptized in their midst, only to become bedridden exactly one month later.

That sucks.

I’m not one of those types who says much to a sick person, unless they ask.  I don’t say, “because God is good; this is good.”  That’s nonsense.  It’s obviously not a good thing that this young woman and her family are stricken with this illness.  It’s something God may, and probably will, use for good, but it’s not a good thing.  To say so to a hurting person is cruel.

I don’t say, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  If God gave it to you, that means you can handle it.”  I heard this nonsense spewed in my DBT class the other day.  This probably offends me more than any other catch phrase.  If this were true, it entirely negates the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Bible does say, “I do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” however, that verse likely refers to temptation, a closer translation is “I endure all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  And if you think about it, you wondered all along if believing in Christ meant you could make yourself invisible.  I suppose if you had enough faith, it could.

Another stupid thing I’ve heard was if your faith is strong enough, you’d be well.  A little glimpse at the life of Paul teaches us that is not true.  Who knew how to pray if not Paul?  Who was spiritual if not Paul?  Yet, he had this thorn in his side that never went away.  Secondarily, Hebrews teaches us that if one is sick they should call others to prayer and they will be healed.  Could it be the well-meaning brother or sister who is hoping to encourage (and not discourage) the ill person is the one who lacks faith?  They clearly lack the wisdom to say something helpful to a sick person.

I may have healing gifts.  I have prayed for very sick people and they got well (twice).  More important than that, I know how to shut up.  Job’s friends did give useless advice, but they sat next to him for days before they opened their mouths.  They are an example to me.  When it comes to sickness, I like to be still.  Sometimes I have things to say (sometimes to repair the damage done by friends who’ve spouted the bad advice given above.)  Sometimes I have questions to answer.  I have been severely ill and I have been well.  I have a illness that will never go away, and that is a way God will work for good.

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