Summary: For Labor Day Sunday, 1989; a focus on and prayer for those involved in the medical professions. God wants to heal us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The resurrection means that full healing is ultimately assured. Those who research and apply
God wants us to be well. Do you believe that? I do.
God does not want us to be sick; our gracious, loving, Father has not wished disease upon us, nor has He orchestrated illness to punish us, nor does He target us with sickness in order to judge us. Our God wants us to be well.
If you read through the Scriptures on this point, you will find scores and scores of references to a God who heals, a Lord who provides health and strength, a Father who renews our youth and our health. He is described as one who brings saving health to all nations. He is pictured as one who offers life and strength and vigor and health. God does not want us to be sick.
Please do not get into telling people that their sickness is God’s will; please do not think you will comfort someone by suggesting that God has used them for target practice. Our God wants us to be well.
When the Lord Jesus comes on the scene, the Gospels picture Him everywhere healing; they bring Him, morning, noon, and night, all manner of diseases, and He heals them. Tired bodies find new strength, when Jesus comes. Twisted limbs discover powers long lost, when Jesus arrives. Dim eyes see again, withered hands move again, even death is not a barrier to Him. When Jesus speaks the word, healing comes. God does not want us to be sick. Nothing is more clear than that.
Why, then, is there sickness? Why so much pain and suffering, if our God has willed that we be well? I cannot pretend this morning to give a complete answer to that. No one is wise enough, no one ought to be presumptuous enough, to speak a final word on that question.
But I do want to say that a part of the answer is that our God is too small. The God we think of, the God whom we imagine, is just too small.
What am I saying? A number of years ago the British theologian J. B. Phillips wrote a fascinating little book which he called, "Your God is Too Small". Phillips told us that we do not think about God in large enough terms. We have assumed that God was somehow not interested in all of life, not capable of dealing with all of life. Our God is too small, and that is one reason we do not deal very well with sickness. We have not yet learned to trust God with all of our diseases.
Several years ago one afternoon I was riding home on a Metrobus. Now believe me, the people’s transportation is the Metrobus. That’s where you hear the real man-in-the-street opinions. Not on Metrorail; that’s much too polite and middle-class. They all hide behind their newspapers or read their legal briefs on Metrorail. But on the bus, the everyday folk talk about nearly everything.
And so on this particular day the fellow seated across from me began to chatter to his seat partner and to complain about the Orioles; I think it may have been during the year when they set a record for the number of games lost at the beginning of a season. Anyway, he was complaining bitterly about his team, and ended the rather one-sided conversation with a theological reflection. Said he, "You know, I actually prayed that those bums would lose another game, just so they could set the record. I actually prayed for them to lose, and you know what, they did!"
He got off at the next stop, and his seatmate, a little embarrassed at having to listen to this tirade, smiled at me – I guess I just look like a preacher – and said, "Now, you know, the Lord ain’t interested in baseball"
Well, maybe not, but then again, maybe He is. Maybe our God is large enough to be interested in baseball and in newspapers and in little kids with runny noses and in overdue electrical bills and in just a whole host of things we haven’t thought about. Maybe our God is concerned with all things. And maybe our great God, our large God, is concerned with sickness, and our trouble is that we have not taken the time to acknowledge that.
The truth is, as the Scripture teaches, that whatever concerns us, concerns God. Whatever gives us pain, gives God pain. Whatever gives us joy enhances the joy in the heart of the Father. Our God is a great God. And He wills all things to be right for us. All things.
The psalmist, the one who wrote the 103rd Psalm, saw the greatness of God. His God was not at all a small God. This psalmist wrote in expansive terms about our God. The psalmist’s favorite word, it would seem, is the word all. All: five times in this psalm he speaks of the "allness" of God, the comprehensive love and care of our God. Listen: