Dealing with Illness? Head to Church
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the phone call from the doctor or held hands with a loved one who was told scary health news, you know illness is one of life’s most devastating storms.
Based on statistics, it’s likely you have some experience in this area.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 in the US have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
When you or someone you love is diagnosed with one of these illnesses, it has the potential to shake your faith.
In the book Unshakable: Standing Strong When Things Go Wrong, Nelson Searcy writes, “No matter what form it manifests itself in, illness is a storm that has the potential and the tendency to shake us worse than just about anything else we come up against – that is, if we don’t approach it from a place of unshakeable faith.”
We’ve all seen people who have bravely battled cancer, chronic illness, and hospitalization with bravery and grace.
We’ve also seen people facing these same storms who have grown bitter and angry.
The difference between the two groups is one has unshakeable faith and the other shattered faith. One is strongly anchored and unmovable, and the other is shaken, blown, and violently tossed about in life’s storms.
How do you cultivate unshakable faith in the face of illness?
That’s what we are discussing in today’s blog.
Facing Illness with Faith
When faced with illness, many people turn to God.
It’s also scientific.
A pier-reviews medical study entitled, Religious Coping is Associated with the Quality of Life of Patients with Advanced Cancer found, “For patients confronting a life-threatening illness such as advanced cancer, religious coping can be an important factor influencing their quality of life.”
Our faith can help us cope with illness and aid those facing terminal illness with a far better quality of life in their final days.
Here are four truths to help you or someone you love increase faith in midst of stormy health.
Leaning on God’s Strength
One of the first things people diagnosed with a serious illness must accept is the inadequacy of their own strength.
The only way to survive the battle is by leaning on the Lord’s strength.
Even David who defeated the giant Goliath understood how he needed God’s strength.
Throughout the Psalms, David cries out to God asking for his help when he was suffering.
Moreover, the Apostle Paul explains that it is through our weaknesses that God’s strength is revealed.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 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.
– 2 Corinthians 2:9-10
As Searcy explains, “Paul’s weakness ultimately made him stronger because it allowed God’s grace and strength to be demonstrated in his life.”
A Note About Searcy: He is a stage four colon cancer survivor. He has an amazing testimony of his own!
We recognize this same quality when we witness those of unshakeable faith battling illness and leaning on God’s strength.
Considering for God’s Purpose
As hard as it is to understand, faith helps us consider God’s purpose for the illness entering our lives.
Searcy writes, “When illness comes into your life, you can rest assured that God has a purpose behind it. […] God knows the details of your situation and, if you will let him, he will work those details together for your benefit and for his glory.”
This can be very challenging to accept.
But if you spend time considering God’s purpose, you will discover that God is using it to move you closer towards the person he designed you to be.
Our Father tests us often
with suffering and with sorrow;
He tests us not to punish us
but to help us meet tomorrow.
For growing trees are strengthened
when they withstand the storm;
And the sharp cut of the chisel,
gives marble grace and form.
God never hurts us needlessly,
and He never wastes our pain,
For every loss He sends to us,
is followed by rich gain.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
– James 1:2-4
Searcy suggests asking, “What do you want to teach me through this illness, God? How are you going to use this pain?”
Asking for God’s Healing
Throughout Scripture, God is referred to as Healer and we see evidence of his healing powers over and over again.
Since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, you may still ask for His healing when we are dealing with an illness.
Praying for healing is an act of faith.
Taking the advice of medical professionals is also an act of faith.
According to Searcy, “God works through modern medical practices every day. He is not anti-physician or anti-medicine. In fact, Luke, Jesus’ disciple who went on to write the Gospel of Luke, was a physician by trade.”
The last truth to cling to when facing this type of life storm is to keep an eternal perspective.
Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ can rest assured of spending eternity with Jesus.
Even if we don’t receive healing until we enter heaven, we can cling to the hope and truth that we will be healed and in God’s presence forever.
Searcy explains, “If you are a follower of Jesus, pain-free tomorrows will always outnumber your pain-filled yesterdays.”
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Ways the Church Helps Those Dealing with Illness
This brings us back to why illness should drive you to church.
Getting involved in a local church will help you cling to these four truths as you or your family members battle illness.
The church offers support and reminds you of God’s strength.
The church helps you consider God’s purpose and comforts you when you don’t struggle to find purpose.
The church prays for healing.
The church reminds you to keep an eternal perspective.
South Bay Bible Church wants to help you have unshakeable faith in the face of illness, even if you can’t join us in person.
In addition to offering online prayer request forms, we post our sermons online and provide helpful online resources.