“…he whom you love is ill.” John 11:3
We are dealing with much illness here at Mercy Home, Mercy Christian Academy, and I myself am on the recovering end of yet another bout of malaria. Today I came across this verse above from John 11. What a wonderful reminder! Illness cannot be a sign of God’s displeasure or a sign of a lack of faith, for here we have the example of Lazarus, someone Jesus loved, someone who had faith, and he was sick!
Even beyond that glorious fact, we read in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” If we love God, it is because we are called according to his purpose, and he works ALL things together for our good. Whether healthy or sick, whether rich or poor, whether free or in prison, or whatever situation the Lord may have us in, we can count it all joy (James 1:2).
The main point I want to make does not come from me, but from J.C. Ryle. With regards to John 11:3, he says, “Mark the child-like faith of these holy women. Mark the simple humility of their language about Lazarus. They call him ‘he whom you love.’ They do not say, ‘He who loves you, believes in you, serves you,’ but ‘he whom you love.’ Martha and Mary were deeply taught of God. They had learned that Christ’s love towards us, and not our love towards Christ, is the true ground of expectation, and true foundation of hope.”
As Christians, let us face our afflictions according to God’s grace. Sickness is used for good. Sickness reminds us of death. Sickness causes people to think seriously about God, their souls, and the world to come. Sickness teaches wisdom. Sickness helps to humble us. And sickness can test our faith, and “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3-4)