Human Sickness and the Glory of God | Douglas Reformed Church

June 12, 2022 Andrew Cannon

Human Sickness and the Glory of God

Human Sickness and the Glory of God

Human sickness is a terrible thing. As a Christ-follower, I long to see an end to sickness, death, crying, and pain. After all, that is Christ's promise--the reason He came. As postmillennials, we celebrate the partial fulfillment of that end now through technology, medicine, and the proper operation of the local church.

Today, we have enough church members sick that we are unable to plan and conduct a worship gathering. As people, we glorify being able to do things. In life, we are often knocked down and unable to accomplish much. Whether sickness, life circumstances, the gospel being out of season, or whatever it may be--we can feel stuck. No matter how much we want to accomplish or how much we glorify seeing some kind of fruit from our labor, we get stuck, unproductive, and unable to advance no matter how much we desire to--even when our desire is for the glory of God and not self.

If God commands us to do so much for His Kingdom, go and make disciples, why does He allow us to be incapacitated by things like sickness or life circumstances? This is where we differ from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), Mormonism, and the Health and Wealth (aka "prosperity") preachers. We do not believe that we must work to maintain our salvation (RCC), advance religion in order to be in Christ (Mormonism), or give enough to God in order to stay well (Health and Wealth). In fact, we see those claims as very unhealthy and contrary to Scripture.

In 1 Samuel 2, we read that salvation belongs only to Yahweh. He is the only holy one. He alone weighs actions, shatters the bows of the mighty, and gives the feeble strength. Yahweh kills and makes alive. Only He provides and confiscates riches. God is sovereign over all things. He alone provides sickness and health. Since Hannah did nothing to earn God's blessing, we know that her song reflects the unconditional sovereignty of God--something the RCC, Latter-Day Saints, and Health and Wealth guys denounce openly. Unconditional sovereignty simply means that God does not and cannot be reactionary as He distributes and withdraws blessings. In other words, It rains on the righteous and unrighteous (cf. Matthew 5:45).

Sicknesses and life circumstances, then, are not necessarily punishments from God. He does not show favoritism or partiality (cf. Romans 2:11). This is why His distribution of health is uncontional. It is also why His distribution of salvation must be unconditional. There is nothing we can do to earn good health or salvation from God. There is nothing we can do to maintain our standing before God or our life-circumstances. Stuff happens. It often happens even to those who honor God with their whole lives.

What does God do in the midst of our sicknesses? I think I will simply let Jesus tell us:

1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.

2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

-John 9:1-3 (NASB)

When we are incapacitated, God has a purpose. That purpose is not that our works will be made evident. Notice this about the text of Scripture–God's purpose is never to glorify our works. Anyone who teaches such is teaching contrary to the word of God. Instead, we are incapacitated from accomplishing many things so that God's works may be displayed. So, we don't have to say that anyone is sick or that the circumstances of his or her life are the way they are because of a particular sin. Instead, it is so God may be glorified in His work. Contrary to most teaching, then, God is the one who is glorified because of His own unconditional work. Salvation is God's work. Health is God's work. It is not ours. Doubtless there are some practical things we can do to stay generally healthy. As we have seen in the last two years, the healthiest people can fall prey to any manner of virus or sickness. Be encouraged. God has a purpose. Through sickness and circumstance, God is dispelling the false, works-based gospels of worldly religion. Soli Deo Gloria.