Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Purposefulness (Purpose in Life) (05/25/06)
TITLE: Responding to "Illness"
By Janice Giesbrecht
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It is a cool, cloudy, Friday morning and I just discovered that both of my children are suffering from some sort of virus – sore throats, stuffy noses and such. As usual, their responses to being sick are quite different.
My elder son, 15 years old, lives by the philosophy that nothing should stop you unless you’re dead. So although he was tired and distracted by his symptoms, he pushed himself to go to school anyway. No getting behind in class for this boy! Now as a parent, I am proud of his sense of responsibility. But I have to admit that sometimes I wonder about the long-term effects of not listening more carefully to the needs of his body. Any sickness, injury, or pain should be addressed appropriately so that permanent damage is not done to some part of the body. Permanent damage could limit his potential.
On the other hand, there is my younger son, 12 years old. His philosophy is that if it even remotely feels uncomfortable, then stay home and take it easy. If you get well first, then you can tackle things with more enthusiasm and more focus. As a parent, I am thankful he listens to the needs of his body and responds with care. But I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if he crosses the line into self-indulgence, pampering himself instead of rising to the challenges of his day. It’s such a fine line.
The importance of how we respond to illness or injury really hit strongly when I felt God’s tap on my shoulder and heard His quiet voice asking, ‘How do My people respond to spiritual illness?” Now this was something I hadn’t thought of before, at least not purposefully. So I obediently began to ponder it.
Sometimes in life, even as devoted followers of Christ, we can get a bit off track. We get busy. We neglect our daily quiet times. We lose our passion for talking with God. We begin to pursue our perceived purpose instead of God Himself. We start listening to the world. And soon our relationship with God is not what it used to be. It is dis-eased. Now, God hasn’t left us. He’s still right there nudging us to pay attention to what’s happening. But what do we do when God reveals this dis-ease in our spirits?
There are those, like my elder son, who choose to push ahead, keep going, do the work of the Lord that’s been given to them, and basically ignore the symptoms of a spiritual virus. The discomforts are shut out with work, with keeping busy. We don’t like to face the fact that we’re “ill”. As well, sometimes we just don’t know what to do to get better so we keep going on as usual. The danger is that when we ignore the symptoms, we are really tuning God out. And when we tune God out, we soon lose all sense of His direction, giving the devil an open invitation to give his direction. Worse still, we infect those around us with the same virus.
Then there are those, like my younger son, who tune in to the symptoms. Even if they don’t’ know why they are feeling uneasy in spirit, they pay attention. They run to God for understanding, for comfort, for healing, for wisdom, for direction. The danger here is subtle. What do we do with God’s wisdom and direction? Do we respond with obedience and action to what He has shown us about ourselves? Or do we refuse the medicine, trusting in time, rest and self-effort to make us well again? Then the danger is that full healing may not take place and/or precious time is wasted.
My challenge to you is that when you find yourself “ill” – whether physically, spiritually, or even circumstantially, consider how you will respond. God has a purpose for every life, a reason why each individual was created. Your response to your “illness” will hugely affect your ability to fulfill that purpose. If you respond to “illness” with obedience to God’s wisdom for your particular situation, He will reward you with the gift of Himself. And isn’t that our greatest purpose – to know Him? And then knowing Him, we can live out our individual purpose successfully.
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