Summary: This message is the first in a series of four on “Illness Through the Eyes of Faith.”
ILLNESS AND WELLNESS
INTRO: In the sitting area of a hospital lobby, a plaque hangs on the wall. It is the hospital statement of purpose. One of the stated purposes is to offer a “positive Christian interpretation of disease, disability, and death.”
A man who was recovering from a serious illness called the plaque to the attention of his pastor. He said, “I am a bit puzzled by the phrase, ‘a positive Christian interpretation of disease.’ What does it mean to interpret illness in such a way?”
What does it mean to interpret illness through the eyes of faith? Since so many of our church members face illness, this is a relevant question.
This message is the first in a series of four on “Illness Through the Eyes of Faith.”
I. THE CHRISTIAN AND ILLNESS.
Why preach on the subject of illness. The answer is simple. Because Christians get sick. Believers are not immune from disease and illness. Christians do not receive a go-directly-to-heaven-pass-all-suffering card. Disease is democratic. It comes to all people regardless of their faith commitment. Christians, like everyone else, are vulnerable to illness.
ILLUS: For several years the popular Christian author and speaker Joyce Landorf has endured an overwhelming and paralyzing kind of pain. While the pain from her medical problem is difficult, Landorf mentions another source of pain more troubled than any other: judgment from fellow Christians.
Believers who think that dedicated Christians should never get sick sometimes tell her that she is being punished for some sin or that she doesn’t have enough faith. Landorf says that this kind of criticism often hurts worse than the physical pain itself.
Where did we get this idea that Christians should not get sick? It is certainly not true to the Bible. Consider Paul for example. In his letters he mentioned Timothy’s stomach problems and frequent aliments.
Paul once said that he left “ill at Miletus.” His Christian friend and co-worker Epaphroditus was so sick once that he almost died. And Paul himself had a serious physical illness. The apostle Paul was one of the greatest men of faith Christianity ever produced, yet he spoke of illness as a natural part of life and suffered physical illness himself.
Good, faithful Christians get sick. The Bible and experience have taught us that. The question is, how do we see illness through the eyes of faith? Where is God to be found in the experience of physical infirmity?
Before we come to that, however, an important issue needs to be addressed. The place to begin a Christian interpretation of illness is to discuss the subject of wellness.
II. THE CHRISTIAN AND WELLNESS
In our Scripture today, we read that our bodies are the temple of God. As a matter of stewardship, Christians should attempt to maintain good health. While we will occasionally become ill, wellness should be our goal. We need to remember that faith is not just spiritual. God is very concerned about our physical bodies. His will is that we take good care of them.