I don’t remember the day I was diagnosed with a physical disability. I was only three years old. Disability is something that has always been a part of my life, and it probably always will.
Growing up, there was no doubt in my mind God created me the way he had for a reason. This disability would be present in my life for as long as he had chosen, to fulfill his mysterious, but good purposes.
Still, as I’ve grown up, I also have come to see that sickness is not what God originally intended for our bodies. Sickness is confined to this sinful world where we live for a brief time. Suffering is a sign that we’re broken, and in need of a Savior. It also points to God’s power and sovereignty. I know God can heal people, but I also know he may choose not to, for our good.
Those two things can be difficult to reconcile. If God can end our suffering on earth, why doesn’t he? Why does he allow sickness to afflict us if sickness is not what he ultimately and eternally wants for us?
There are no easy answers. But it is okay, even good, to wrestle with questions like these. The grieving and wrestling brings us back to precious truths for the suffering.
God Is Good, Not Cruel
When I see circumstances of suffering in my own life or in the lives of others, my mind immediately turns to whyquestions. God declares that he works all things together for the good of those who love him, “those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans [8:28]).
But how are we supposed to interpret suffering as something good? It seems unfair that he would prolong our pain, allowing it to rob some of the quality or length of our life.
God does desire for our bodies to be whole one day. He also desires for our hearts to be drawn to him with a profound understanding of his grace and love.
C.S. Lewis summarized it well in The Problem of Pain: “On the one hand, if God is wiser than we, his judgement must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in his eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.”
When it does seem as if God is withholding healing from us, it is not because he is cruel. Our understanding is limited, and we will never fully see things from his perspective. We may have trouble comprehending how God can use suffering for good, but we also do not have the wisdom or authority to say it cannot be true.
Written by MaryLynn Johnson
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