Revive Our Hearts Podcast

His Healing Touch, Part 7

Leslie Basham: When it comes to prolonged physical sickness, God sometimes chooses to heal; and sometimes He doesn't. Here's Nancy DeMoss.

Nancy DeMoss: I have a dear friend who went to be with the Lord not long ago. She lost her life to Lou Gehrig's disease. There was a power and a fruit and a fragrance and a beauty that came out of sickness, out of even death, that brought glory to God.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss. It's Tuesday, March 12. We've spent the last several sessions studying Mark 5, learning about the woman Jesus healed after (she had) suffered physical illness for 12 years. Bob Lepine, the co-host of FamilyLife Today, has been listening to this series with us. He's spending some question-and-answer time with Nancy, and they're finding some practical applications from this story. Here's Bob.

Bob Lepine: Sometimes when folks face a physical affliction, it will set us all back to thinking, Does the Lord have a lesson for me in this? When you're in a hospital bed or even when you're stuck at home and you can't go to work or can't take care of the children, you think, Okay, Lord, what are You trying to show me and teach me? You'll talk to people with a prolonged physical ailment; and they'll say, "I've tried to figure it out, but I don't know what the Lord is trying to teach me." Do we keep looking in that circumstance? What should we expect?

Nancy DeMoss: When it comes to matters of physical illness; and sometimes, even for godly people, there can be prolonged physical illness. I have a dear friend who went to be with the Lord not long ago as a 42-year-old mother of four. She lost her life to Lou Gehrig's disease--a godly woman. God did not choose to heal her of that affliction, though there were many, many people who prayed, believing that God could and asking God to heal her. I'm sure that my friend, Janeice, did through that process of those months search her heart and ask God to show her, especially before she knew this was terminal, "Lord, is there something You're trying to say to me."

Physical illness is something that God can use in our lives, but it's something the enemy can also use. That's where we need to strike that balance. I believe it's always wise when there's a circumstance pressing in on my life--physical, financial, relational--to start by saying, "Lord, You've got my attention. Is there anything You're wanting to say to me, is there something You're wanting to show me that I've been blind to?" It is unfortunately true that we often don't cry out to the Lord and really open our hearts to Him until we're in a period of affliction. God does use affliction as, I think it was C. S. Lewis who said, a megaphone. He speaks to us in our pain, in ways that we might not hear in times of wellness.

I believe it's right to start by saying, "Lord, is there an issue in my life of sin, of disobedience, of unbelief? Sin does create physical consequences in our lives. There are some physical issues--gastrointestinal disorders sometimes, some heart conditions, some stroke conditions--all of these things sometimes can be caused by unresolved bitterness, unresolved guilt, relationships that are not right because our bodies were not intended to bear up under the pressure of unconfessed sin.

It's appropriate to say, "Lord, is there something You're trying to show me about my life or about Your ways? Now You've got my attention. I'm listening; I'm willing to hear." That's where James 5 says that if there is a physical affliction, we should at points and at times call for the elders; and with the process of confessing of sin in that context, pray for healing. Where it is sin that has caused the physical affliction, we can believe God for healing and release from that--as we confess the sin.

There are other times when sickness--though all sickness and disease and death ultimately go back to sin--there may be sickness in your life or in mine that is not directly connected to our sin. We're all sinners, but it may not be directly connected. We're too quick to try and connect the dots between the afflictions we experience and what may have been the spiritual causes. We're particularly prone to do that for other people! It's easier for us to connect the dots in someone else's life, maybe, than in our own.

I do believe there are times when our sickness, our physical affliction--and you could put in this category other types of material loss or affliction--when it is just the result of living in a fallen world. Jesus did not promise that we would be spared from that. In fact, He said we would have to endure it. But He did promise that He would give us grace to walk through it and to endure it and to see God glorified through it.

We heard the testimony a little bit ago of a woman who said that through extended periods of physical illness and affliction in her life, she had come to know God in a way that she might not have ever seen Him before. She said, "Now I look back on that time as a blessing." Most of us in the midst of that time wouldn't think of it as a blessing.

The temptation I think the enemy can bring about in our lives is to put on us guilt that is not from the Lord. We've searched our hearts. We've said, "Lord, I'm open for You to show me any issue I need to deal with." If our heart is clear and doesn't convict us, doesn't condemn us, then go in peace and believe God for His grace to live with that affliction. But the enemy can come in sometimes and keep hitting us and saying, "There must be something wrong"--especially if you have friends like Job's who are prone to say, "Look, the only reason people get sick is because they sin."

God's Word doesn't teach that. In fact, in John 9 a man who was blind from birth was brought to Jesus. It was assumed in that day that if you were sick or diseased, it must be because you had sinned. It was said to Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parents? Whose sin is this that caused this man's blindness?" Jesus said, "They're all sinners [as we all are], but that's not how this man got to be blind. His blindness is so that the glory of God and the power of God may be seen in his life, so that God can receive glory."

In that case God received glory by the blind man being healed, but I've seen other instances where God received great glory because someone (was) willing to endure prolonged suffering and physical illness and still to give thanks in the midst of it. I watched and listened during the period of time surrounding my friend's, who died of ALS, (illness). I saw that young mother, that young woman, deal with fear. I saw her run head on into it. Not that she was a naturally courageous person. She was actually kind of a timid, fearful person. But she said, "I'm not going to let this fear overpower my life"--even when she knew that her disease was terminal.

She glorified God in her death as much she had, and maybe more in some ways--as she had in her life. Her life brought glory to God, but the way she died--praying, praising. I can still remember being in her home with her and her husband, praying and singing together Like a river glorious is God's perfect peace very close to the time that she went to the hospital for the final time.

I can still hear her saying that evening as she could hardly breathe, (she) had lost most of her lung capacity and was in a recliner and was incapacitated in terms of the use of her hands or her legs--I can still hear her saying, "God has been so good to us. God has been so good to us." There was a power and a fruit and a fragrance and a beauty that came out of sickness, out of even death, that brought glory to God.

I don't mean to make death beautiful in and of itself. Death was not God's plan; it was not His idea originally. It's the consequence of choices that we made. Death is ugly. Death is evil and wicked. It's the tool of the destroyer. But in Christ, death and sickness no longer have their sting. They can't control us. They can't rule our lives. They cannot ruin our lives if we're in Christ because He has been victorious over Satan.

In the midst of physical affliction, we can say "Lord, I ask for healing, pray for it." He tells us that we ought to ask for the requests of our heart; but we say as Jesus did, "What I really want more than my will is for Your will to be done." Talk about loss of life! Look at Jesus going to the cross and laying down His life, willing to endure physical agony, pain, and ultimately death--but for a greater, higher purpose. He knew that through laying down His life, God would be glorified and God's redemptive purposes would be fulfilled in this world. So He said, "Yes, Father. I accept this."

And death couldn't keep Him down! Beyond the cross, beyond the death, beyond the pain, beyond the loss--there is resurrection. There is new life. Remember, this is not the final chapter. This sickness will not be forever. It may be for a lifetime, but it will not be forever. There will be freedom from every ache, every pain, every tear, every sorrow. It will be all wiped away in that great eternal day. That's what we need to keep our eyes on.

Leslie Basham: When we're going through tough times, we need the kind of eternal perspective that Nancy DeMoss has provided today. Has our current study of Mark 5 given you insight into suffering and healing? Why don't you add this series to your library? The series is called His Healing Touch, and it comes on two cassettes. We're suggesting a donation of $8 for this series. To order, you can call us at 1-800-569-5959. You can also order on-line. Our address is ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today, we've gotten an eternal perspective on a timely issue. It's the type of message you've come to expect from Revive Our Hearts. We want to teach women to apply biblical truths to practical issues they face, and you can help us. We rely on the financial support of our listeners. Would you partner with us? Your donation will help us give women the right perspective in a culture of confusing messages. You can send your gift to Revive Our Hearts.

We like problems solved quickly. We don't like the idea of suffering for 12 years as the woman in Mark 5 did. How should we respond when faced with a problem that just won't go away? We'll hear about that tomorrow. Earlier in the program, Nancy talked about singing the hymn "Like a River Glorious" with her friend who was suffering from a terminal illness. Let's listen to that hymn as today's program comes to close. Thanks for listening to Revive Our Hearts.

*Musical arrangement of the hymn "Like a River Glorious." 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

**"Like a River Glorious;" arrangement by Discovery House, 2001; used by permission.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.