Recently, I was struck hard by the news that a member of my congregation is going through the trial of sickness. Many people around us are affected by cancer, diabetes, heart problems—name it, it is there. It seems that almost everybody is affected, either directly or through a family member or close friend who is suffering. How should we be responding?
When facing trials, do we put our trust in God first and foremost? Ancient King David wrote, “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psalm 62:2). He goes on to say: “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (v. 8). Do we really believe David’s words? Are we able to live by them? Do we understand what they mean?
We are called to a future that is beyond anything that we can imagine. We are called to be kings and priests of the Most High. We are called to be teachers of a way of life. Are we putting David’s words into application today? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves carefully. Do we put ourselves to the test to make sure that we are not disqualified?
The Apostle Paul challenged the Corinthians to take stock of themselves. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?––unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5-7).
Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that it is not enough to “appear” to be fulfilling the physical requirements of the law. The Pharisees did that, but were disqualified. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28).
The Pharisees’ appearance of righteousness masked a serious problem. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23).
With Paul’s warnings in mind, are we willing in times of great difficulty to practice true Christianity, not neglecting the weightier matters of the law? Through the prophet Ezekiel, God gave a powerful warning: “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).
Today, Jesus Christ stands in the gap for us, as our intercessor and great High Priest. Are we willing to stand in the gap for our brethren who are suffering? James tells us the prayer of the faithful avails much (James 5:16). Paul reminds us: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).
As we think of those around us who are suffering serious illness, are we offering our fervent and impassioned prayers of intercession with every fiber of our being? If you need a reminder of what God can do in the lives of those who seek Him wholeheartedly, read (or re-read) our booklet, Does God Heal Today? And watch our Tomorrow’s World telecast, “God Heals.”