The link below is this weeks’ newsletter from our new church home, Immanuel Bible Church. I just wanted to take a few minutes in the midst of unpacking boxes to think of the humbling beauty of the Body of Christ. I say humbling because we know we are unworthy of any of this, and yet people have served us in so many ways as they do it as unto the Lord. We are excited to begin soon serving the Lord through serving them. From friends in Southern California through our Home Bible Study and Juniors Ministry that packed up our truck in just over 2 hours, to Bryan and Lee flying to Southern California and driving our moving truck for over 24 hours, to the warm welcome when we first stepped into our new home, we have been eyewitnesses and recipients of the beauty of the Body of Christ. Will you praise Him with us for His goodness and grace, and pray for a long, faithful, and fruitful ministry at Immanuel Bible Church?
Almost 3 years ago I was forced to think about sickness in a much deeper way than I ever had before. As a 30 year old I began to suffer from a condition rare for men my age that first sent me to the emergency room, gave me pain every day for well over a year, other medical issues & infections, forced me to purchase expensive medication to experience some relief, and that although not life threatening, could be something I will have to deal with the rest of my life. God was gracious to me. I found a cheap herb that takes away 90% of the symptoms for now. I realize that some reading this may be walking through deep, dark valleys of sickness, some life threatening. I don’t share this to compare, but rather thinking of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” May the Lord Himself encourage and comfort you. I found great comfort from God meditating on the twin truths that He is sovereign and good. If you are not passing through sickness now, remember that until Heaven our bodies are in a sin cursed world and you must be ready.
J.C. Ryle wrote a booklet entitled “Sickness” that I would encourage you to read for its’ helpfulness. There are 3 special duties associated with sickness that he writes about:
1) One supreme duty which the prevalence of sickness places on us is that of living always prepared to meet God. Sickness is a reminder of death. Death is the door through which we must all pass to judgement. Judgement is the time when we must at last see God face to face. Surely the first lesson which the inhabitant of a sick and dying world should learn, should be to prepare to meet their God.
2) Another supreme duty which the prevalence of sickness requires of us, is that of always being ready to bear it patiently. Sickness is no doubt a trying thing to flesh and blood. To feel our nerves unstrung, and our natural energy reduced, to be obliged to sit still and be cut off from all our usual activities, to see our plans broken off and our purposes disappointed, to endure long hours, and days, and nights of weariness and pain–all this is a severe strain on poor sinful human nature. What wonder if bad temper and impatience are brought out by disease! Surely in such a dying world as this we should study patience.
How shall we learn to bear sickness patiently, when sickness comes to our turn? We must lay up stores of grace in the time of health. We must seek for the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit over our unruly moods and attitudes. We must make a real business of our prayers, and regularly ask for strength to endure God’s will as well as to do it. Such strength is to be had for the asking: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14)
…Never do these graces [the fruit of the Spirit] shine so brightly as in the sick room. They enable many a sick person to preach a silent sermon, which those around him never forget…
3) One more supreme duty which sickness places on us, is that of always being ready to feel with and help your fellow men. Sickness is never very far from us…But wherever there is sickness, there is a call to duty. A little timely assistance in some cases, a kindly visit in others, a friendly enquiry, a mere expression of sympathy, may do a vast good…These things, I dare say, may appear to some people little and trifling. They would rather be doing something great, and grand, and striking, and heroic! But conscientious attention to these little acts of brotherly kindness is one of the clearest evidences of having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). They are acts in which our blessed Master himself was abundant. “He went about doing good” to the sick and sorrowful (Acts 10:38). They are acts to which he attaches great importance in the most solemn passage of Scripture, the description of the last judgement. He says there: “I was sick and you visited me” (Matt 25:36).
Isaiah 40:28-31 has been a favorite Bible passage of mine since college when I was challenged by a friend to memorize it. However, I had no idea how instrumental it would be in my life until about a year later, when I broke my leg while studying in Israel. I couldn’t leave the country yet! We had methodically been studying the biblical sites and we had not yet been to most of the sites Jesus had been closely associated with. The Lord used quoting Isaiah 40:28-31 to get me over ancient ruins on crutches that spring: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
Isaiah wrote these words (in advance, as a prophet of God) to God’s people in captivity in Babylon. As they were in exile, they began to wonder about the goodness and faithfulness of God and whether or not He would keep His promises. Isaiah told them to do two things to have strength from God: to meditate on Him (v. 28), and to wait on Him (v. 31). What does it mean though to wait on the Lord?
The word wait in Hebrew is crucial to understand. Much like the Spanish word esperanza, it has a dual meaning that we don’t usually associate with the word wait in English. It means not only our traditional sense of “waiting” as in, “I am waiting for this bus to arrive,” but it also carries the idea of hope. Context tells which direction the meaning slants towards. I have been a rider on public transit in the Los Angeles Metro area for almost 3 years now, and let me tell you, when somebody is waiting for the bus here, they are waiting in both senses of the term! “I am waiting for the bus,” and “I am hoping for the bus to arrive soon.”
What is all-important is what our hope is in. I have very little hope in the Metro transit system, but I have an infinite hope in the God of the universe! That is why Isaiah told them to both meditate on God and wait on Him.
Why does God want us to actively wait on Him? There are many reasons, but here are three:
- It makes us seek Him.
- It reminds us the timing is His, not ours.
- It makes us trust Him.
What are you waiting on the LORD for? He has given us many sure promises. I hope that you will wait like the Psalmist: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14)