rooted to thrive in ill-health
The following are notes from the preaching/teaching given in our online service on the 23rd August 2020. If you would like to view the service you may do so here on our Facebook page
In the last few weeks of our teaching on Rooted to Thrive we’ve looked at being rooted to thrive in physical health and we’ve looked at being rooted to thrive in our mental health, and we’ve seen how different parts of our beings, body, mind and spirit can all affect one another.
Today we come to another dimension, how can we be rooted to thrive in ill health?....In the midst of the ongoing effects of the pandemic from the coronavirus how do we still thrive and come through
The vast majority of us will face times when our health is not good, and we find ourselves struggling with ill-health – physical, mental, and spiritual.
What do we do at those times??!!
What we do may well determine whether we thrive through that time or whether we dive through that time. (Video clip Raine with fallen, uprooted tree)
Our first port of call ought to be to turn to the Lord! He is the LORD our Healer – Exodus 15:26
If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.
I have often heard people reference this verse and one of the names of God, held in it, Jehovah, or Yahweh Rapha, I, I am, your Healer. But I haven’t often heard people reference the context of it. What God requires of us, if he is to be our Healer – that we listen carefully to him, that we do what is right in his eyes, that we pay attention to his commands…. And keep all his decrees….. I guess most of us don’t measure up to all of those requirements!!
Promises of healing abound throughout scripture. Demonstrations of healing abound throughout scripture.
In Psalm 103, we read King David writing these words:
Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s….
David fills himself with the wonder of who God is; the wonder of his character and nature; the wonder of what he has done and what he will do – and he lets those promises enrich his life.
In that magnificent prophecy of the suffering servant, prefiguring what Jesus would go through, Isaiah writes in Isaiah 53:4-6, he writes:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Again, so often we remember and quote the phrase, ‘by his wounds we are healed’ – and yet, so often we fail to remember that it is all in the context of dealing with our sin, and being the sacrifice to take it away.
Ill-health is a product of living in a fallen world. Not all ill-health is a product of our own sin, or even of the sins of our families…. But some is!
Cigarette packets tell us that.
Being overweight as a product of unhealthy lifestyles, whether through consuming too much, eating in an unhealthy way, or lack of exercise, leads to poor health.
Drinking to excess ruins our bodies and predisposes us to health issues
He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities and that includes the sin of the abuse of our bodies, and not caring for them as we should – and just like we need to repent of other sin, so we need to repent of sin in that way.
The promise of healing resounds throughout Scripture.
We read of incredible healings through the Old Testament, and with the arrival of Jesus, we read of even more in the New Testament. And during the life of the early church, we see healings taking place. Even today, we see healings taking place.
Through last year we saw a number of healings – very often in response to words of knowledge – maybe, if you were amongst those who experienced healing in some way you might like to share a testimony of it – either record a little video testimony with your phone if you felt able – and send it to Matt. Or perhaps, if you were happy to come along to Thrive at Five, come and share your testimony during one of our services?
Our first port of call when we face ill-health ought to be to turn to the Lord, our Healer.
Amongst the gifts of the Spirit are gifts of healing and as we are encouraged to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, it’s good to ask God to manifest the gifts of healing through us as we lay hands on people and minister God’s healing and pray for it.
The New Testament also encourages us to call on the leaders of the church to pray for us and to anoint us with oil, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
If you have a Bible, turn with me to James 5:13-16
READ James 5:13-16
As members of the Leadership, we did this recently for someone – and pain which they had been living with for some time was released – they are not running like a spring chicken, but they have been delivered from the pain they were living with – it seems to me that the promise here in James is in some way different from the gifts of healing – this is a promise to God’s people, that if we come, confessing our sin, and we come in faith, asking the leaders of our church to pray for us in faith, anointing us with oil, that the Lord will heal us, that he will raise us up.
It may be miraculous, like other healings, but that’s not the promise here – the promise is that the ill person will get well, and they will be raised up.
So, if you are living with ill-health, perhaps you ought to call the Leadership to come and pray with you and anoint you with oil.
Recognise that as we do so, we all need – those seeking healing, and those seeking to minister it or to pray in faith for it – to be examining ourselves and seeing if there is sin in our lives which we need to confess to God and receive his forgiveness and healing for.
So first, in ill-health, its right that we look to the Lord for healing, but we need to recognise that at this time, whilst we are in the in-between stage where the Kingdom is both now and not-yet – the powers of the Kingdom to come are breaking through on earth, but not yet here in their fulness – hence Jesus encouraging us to pray, ‘Your Kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven’.
We haven’t yet entered into the fulness of the Kingdom, where there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4 – so now, at times we see Kingdom power being manifest, and at other times we may be left wondering, longing.
Senior figures in the early church suffered with health issues, and amongst the senior figures was Luke, a doctor who went on to write the Gospel of Luke and then the Book of Acts. One can’t help wondering as to whether as Luke travelled with Paul and other in the team on their missionary, church planting travels, as to whether alongside the miraculous healings that went on, as to whether Luke ministered to the team’s physical needs.
Paul, writing to his young mentee in the faith, Timothy, said in 1 Timothy 5:23:
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
Now, some would say, Paul was advising to drink the wine, rather than the water which may be polluted and be leading to his repeated illnesses – that may be the case – and may go back to the wisdom needed in caring for our physical health by thinking about what we eat and drink – interestingly Paul didn’t say, Down a couple of bottles of wine. It’ll help you mask the problems you’re going through with your health. The reverse, he said, take a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. In other words, have some wisdom, use the resources available to you, to help you with your health.
I have met people who have refused medical treatment, because they believe it wouldn’t be having faith in God to heal them – but what if that medical knowledge is what God has provided to bring wholeness and well ness to people.
Fascinating how many Christians there are in medicine; how much medicine has been used in Christian mission work. Fascinating that in that band of church planters working with the apostle Paul was this medical doctor Luke.
If we want to be rooted to thrive in ill-health, we should look in the first instance to the LORD our Healer, but we should also look to the resources we have available to us – so when I was bitten badly a number of times recently, once into the muscle behind my knee causing it to swell and causing pain, I didn’t just pray, I used antihistamine cream on the bites, and I tripled up by not only praying, not only putting cream on, but taking antihistamine tablets too – and I was so grateful to God when the swelling and pain started to reduce!!
Was I lacking in faith? Or was I trusting the Lord as I used the resources available to me?
The Apostle Paul, who taught about gifts of healing suffered with ill-health himself. Many significant leaders in Christian history have suffered with ill-health in various forms. And yet they thrived, in-spite of their battles:
- Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time, battled with depression.
- David Watson, a significant charismatic Anglican in the 80’s and whose writings had a big influence in my walk with God as a young Christian died with cancer.
- John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement of churches, and major promoter of the healing ministry, suffered with heart problems, cancer, depression and died as a result of a head injury
- Joni Eareckson-Tada, an active young woman, as a result of an accident diving into the sea was left paralysed
But all of these men and women thrived in-spite of the things they faced
The apostle Paul shares on this in his second letter to the Corinthian Christians. Turn with me if you would to 2 Corinthians 12:6-10
Paul has been describing how he has experienced some incredible visions and revelations from the Lord, and we pick up as he speaks out of that:
Paul talks about this problem he has faced and is still facing. He doesn’t say exactly what it is. Some think it may be issues with his sight, from things written in some of his other letters. Others think it may have been a problem with malaria, or epilepsy. Some think it may have been mental health struggles, or battles with temptation, or the battles of persecution, but the truth is, we don’t know and all we can do is conjecture.
What we do know is that he didn’t blame God for what he was going through, and saw his ‘thorn in the flesh’ as ‘a messenger of Satan’ – and that it was serious, for it tormented him.
He pleaded with the Lord 3x to take it away from him – but the Lord didn’t.
We don’t know why sometimes the Lord heals people, and sometimes he chooses not to do so…. But God spoke to Paul and said to him:
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
In our weakness, when we battle with ill-health, we can do one of two things – we can blame God for it, instead of recognizing that it’s a product of living in a fallen world, possibly the result of our sin, or that of others, or even a direct attack from the devil – or we can throw ourselves on him, and say, God help me!! (Like the apostle Paul did – three times, pleading with God to take away his problem…)
And sometimes when we turn to the Lord, when we seek out prayer, when we call the Leaders of the church to pray for us and anoint us with oil, he brings healing – and sometimes, he doesn’t….
Sometimes he says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Sometimes in our weakness he uses his power to manifest his Kingdom in us and through us.
I don’t imagine Joni Eareckson Tada would have been the influence she has been around the world if she hadn’t had that accident which left her parlaysed.
Would other Christian leaders have had the influence in their Christian ministry that they have had if they didn’t have to continually throw themselves on the Lord and say, ‘Lord! I need your help! I can’t do this on my own!!’
Paul writes: Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For, when I am weak, then I am strong.
When I am weak, then I am strong – relying not on our own strength, but humbly depending on the Lord; maybe asking him to help us get through each day….
We do get older…. And our bodies do start to age and not function as well as they once did….
Earlier in his letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul had written, (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1)
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Wherever we are with ill-health, if we want to be rooted in Christ, to thrive through it, we need to fix our eyes upon Jesus – we need to look to him, Yahweh-rapha – The LORD, our Healer – we need to turn from our sin and put our faith and our trust in Jesus – he paid the price for it all on the cross – he paid for our healing, for our forgiveness, for our cleansing, body, mind and spirit – he paid to bring Shalom, wholeness to the whole of our being – and we get to experience the first-fruits of that in this life – and we get to experience the fulness of it in the life to come.
It maybe that you are sitting with ill-health at the minute. I really do believe that at this time there are a number of people that God wants to bring healing to – if, as I said that, you felt a quickening in your spirit, that tinge of excitement, then I believe that you are one that the Lord wants to minister to us – I will pray now, but I would encourage you to come along to the Zoom prayer rooms after the service (the Zoom rooms are open for a short while after the service goes out live, so if you’re watching later, you’ll need to contact us) or perhaps come along, if you are able, to Thrive at Five and we can maybe pray for you then. It may be appropriate to ask for us to arrange a James 5 prayer session with members of the Leadership.
Equally for you today, it maybe that you, like Paul, have pleaded with the Lord for his healing, and he wants to come to you today and say, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Maybe the Lord would want to use what you are going through to keep you dependent on him, to keep you close to him, so that he can minister his Kingdom through you in a way which might not otherwise be the case.