Death, dying, and suffering

Hebrews 9:27

… it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment …

Death can be a very scary thing for us, whether it is our own or the death of

someone very close to us. It is also a very serious thing for at least two reasons:

(1) it affects the deepest of relationships between human beings, and (2) it is

completely unavoidable. Much has been said about death over the centuries, but

here I would just like to address a myth that has taken hold concerning sickness,

dying, and death.

Myth: In His passion and death upon the cross Jesus provided healing for every

disease, every sickness, every infirmity in every situation for every human being

who believes.

Isaiah speaks of the Messiah, “by His stripes we are healed”, and the first letter of

Peter confirms it: “by whose stripes you were healed”. Modern Christians in

some circles take this to mean that whenever anyone is sick, has a disease, or has

some infirmity in their body, God has made a solemn promise that the lashes that

Jesus took prior to His crucifixion – His stripes – have made available to anyone a

complete physical healing in every situation, if they will only believe it. It is often

expressed in words such as, “I claim healing in Jesus’ Name!”. This makes it sound

as though Jesus’ passion created a contract between God and man – a holy health

insurance policy – which man needs only to submit a claim against; for His part

God – because He promised – has no choice but to honor that contract. If this

contract existed then surely there would be many Christians living uncommonly

long lives and perhaps some who would never die! We know this is not the case,

and in all the supernatural healings described in the Scriptures, not one of them in

either the Old or New Testaments is accomplished as a claim on a promise God

has made.

Both Isaiah and Peter speak truth, but what do they actually say?

The first quote is from Isaiah 53:5, but let’s look at the context: “Surely He has

borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten

by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised

for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes

we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to

his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

The second quote is from 1 Peter 2:24b, but again let’s look at the context: “For

what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But

when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before

God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an

example, that you should follow His steps:  ‘ Who committed no sin, nor was deceit

found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He

suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges

righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we,

having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were

healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the

Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25) Peter affirms what Isaiah

has said, but in the context of … suffering! He is telling us that we are called to

suffering!

Jesus certainly bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, and it was for our

transgressions that He was wounded, for our iniquities that He was bruised, for

our peace He was chastised, and by His stripes we are healed. But healed of

what? By bearing our griefs has He promised we will never grieve in this life? By

carrying our sorrows has He promised we will never be sad in this life? By His

chastisement has He promised we will always have peace in this life?

No, unfortunately. But in the end, and for all eternity, all these things will be

healed. Though we have gone astray, Jesus by His passion and death has bought

us from slavery to sin and has brought us back from our own way into His way. In

the same way His promised complete healing is eternal, not temporal (i.e., for this

life). The truth is, for some of these things to be healed – especially for our

hearts, minds, and attitudes to be healed – God must allow us to suffer grief,

sorrow, pain, and even death in this life. Even Paul, that great man of faith and

power, had an affliction that he asked God to remove three times, but each time

God said, “No”. God was not breaking His promise, but fulfilling His promise to

heal the “whole man” by addressing something very important in Paul’s life: his

attitude (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Does it mean we should not believe God will heal? No! Does this mean we should

not pray for healing? No! Does this mean we shouldn’t have faith for healing in

mind, body, soul, or spirit? No! God’s refusal to heal Paul did nothing to diminish

his faith and ministry, and he was a man of healings! It does mean we should

seek to see what God sees, so that we can observe what He is doing in every

situation and do the same thing, just as Jesus did: “Most assuredly, I say to you,

the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever

He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19). We are not greater than

Jesus Christ; let us imitate Him and rejoice, even in the midst of suffering.

Word of God: speak!

Non nobis Domine+

by Fr. Dana Jackson

© 2020 icceceurope.org

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