Sick and Loved
Last summer, I stumbled upon John 11 during a time of praying for a dear friend battling cancer. I wrote a message on her Facebook prayer page and thought it would be helpful to post a similar message on the blog. Since then, three other people in my life developed cancer. There were students with terminal illnesses. Two different sets of friends found out their child has chronic health conditions. It seems as though John 11 is more relevant than ever, and it bears repeating.
When sickness strikes, it’s easy to fall into anger or doubt. Though I don't know what it's like personally to undergo cancer treatments, I know that there is a good, good Son of God who shows us how to be there for friends with illnesses.
The story of Jesus hearing that Lazarus has fallen ill in John 11 (before Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead) reminds me of several things.
1. You can be sick and deeply loved by God. God’s love for us isn’t based on temporal condition or circumstance. When Jesus was informed that Lazarus was ill by Mary, John tells us He “loved” that family (vs 5).
I pray that those suffering with long-term illnesses and the families of those affected feel the depth of Jesus’ eternal love even in the midst of their earthly circumstance.
2. Jesus waits two days after hearing the news and then tells his disciples “for your sake I am glad” about Lazarus “so that you may believe” (vs 15). Jesus’ motivation is always one of love — love for the individual and for the glory of God in revealing Himself to many. Jesus is certain of the outcome, so He can be “glad” others will know Christ through this circumstance.
I pray that any believer who is sick can rest knowing that ultimately, all believers’ eternal positions are with the Heavenly Father. I pray that God would use earthly sickness to reveal Himself to others.
3. Then Jesus tells his disciples “let us go to him” (Lazarus), and Thomas, traditionally known as the doubting disciple, immediately says “let us also go, that we may die with him” (vs 16). Thomas shows bold faith and courage. Thomas didn’t understand everything happening. He definitely didn’t know that Jesus was planning to raise Lazarus from the dead, but Thomas was willing to risk everything and remain attached to Jesus.
I pray that through sickness, those affected would attach themselves to Jesus with bold faith and courage. We might not understand all of what is happening, but Jesus is at work, in a situation of sickness and in everything.