Series: Fear vs Faith
This week: The Fear of Pain and Suffering
“No pain, no gain.” While that motto might look great and be motivating on the wall of a workout facility, most of us want to steer as far away from pain as we possibly can. In this message, we are referring to physical pain and the prolonged suffering that can accompany it. Web MD lists almost 350 different types of pain medications available today. Gone are the simple days of taking an aspirin; we want the strong stuff (Extra-strength Tylenol; Advil; Percocet; Demerol; Vicodin; etc. all the way to legalized marijuana). The stark humanity of us is seen in the way we fear pain brought to our bodies and the possibility of being in a continued state of suffering. Frankly, we don’t like it!
The REALITY of this fear is that we are not exempt from accidents, health issues, surgeries, disease, harm from others, old age, threat of persecution, fear of being handicapped or becoming an invalid, etc. Satan uses these to create an unhealthy fear of strokes, heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and all kinds of detrimental health problems.
The RESULT is that our age is plagued with all kinds of physical and emotional suffering due to pain: addictions; dependency on drugs of all kinds; alcoholism; panic attacks; hypochondria; mental stress; depression; feeling helpless and hopeless; suicides; overcompensation on safety; fear to take risks; robbing Christians of their joy; the list goes on and on….
We need the FAITH TO OVERCOME these fears. When you suffer, remember you can have:
1. FAITH IN GOD TO HEAL. James 5:15 says that we can say a “prayer offered in faith that will make the sick person well.” Don’t discount the power of prayer (James 5:16). And don’t discount the power of God to heal the body. That healing can take place in a number of ways: 1) sometimes God will allow the body to heal itself; he has created the body with that amazing ability; 2) sometimes God wants you to use the medical advances that are available in our world (they used what they had in Bible times, so why shouldn’t we?); 3) sometimes healing will come in direct answer to prayer; and sometimes it comes in ways we don’t comprehend or understand. By God’s sovereign power and will, he can heal! Believe that!
2. FAITH IN GOD TO APPEAL. This appeal comes through prayer, but prayer that is persistent, passionate, and powerful! Jesus told his disciples that some things will only happen through faith and prayer (Mark 9:14-29) so the continual appeal needs to go out. There’s an amazing story in 2 Kings 20:1-11 when King Hezekiah was told he had a short time to live because of his illness and to put his house in order. He appealed to God and God blessed him with 15 more years of life! Appeal!
3. FAITH IN GOD TO REVEAL. This is the hardest one to do. But there comes a time when we accept our situation in life even if it means poor health, pain, and suffering. Then we ask God to reveal to us the strength we need, the character to develop (see Romans 5:3-4), and the unseen purposes that we may or may not understand. Such was the case when Paul suffered from his “thorn in the flesh” (discomfort in his body), and he “begged” God to remove it, but the Lord revealed his purpose in teaching him that “my strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Paul concluded in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks (note: see 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 for more detail). I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (Message Bible)
Remember from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – don’t lose heart! Our bodies will waste away in time, but renew the inward person daily! These pains are light and momentary, compared to Heaven itself where there will be no more pain, sorrow, or suffering! Fix your eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen!