“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” (James 5:13–15 ESV)
Except when He doesn’t…
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31–33 ESV)
Except when they’re not…
We’ve all anointed and prayed for someone who didn’t recover.
We all know people who are struggling to keep the lights on and who dread checking the mail or answering the phone because they simply don’t have the provision needed.
We know from experience that these “promises” of help are anything but sure.
We massage that reality with sundry theological explanations to allow us to hold on to some semblance of faith.
We deal with our disappointment and discouragement with thoughts about God’s will, God’s sovereignty, a fallen world, or our own sin.
Honestly, those no longer do much for me.
Between the afflictions I own and the afflictions I see, such answers are like cheap band aids that don’t stick properly, but hurt when you pull them off.
There is only one explanation that brings any measure of comfort.
It’s one sure promise of scripture
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” (Philippians 1:28–29 ESV)
Suffering is promised as surely as salvation in the book.
It is spoken of as being given as an honor.
It is said to be necessary for us to be able to endure to the end.
It is said that we share in the sufferings of Christ and that by doing so we play a part in the story of redemption.
Despite all this, we do all we can to avoid suffering or to ameliorate it any way we can.
There are days when it makes us doubt our faith and the goodness of God.
We’re supposed to count it as joy, but I can’t do that kind of math…
If you don’t have days like that, I salute your holiness, but lately I have more days like that then I care to admit.
I survive not with carefully selected scripture verses, but by looking at Jesus.
Jesus came to suffer.
Jesus asked His Father for another way because the suffering was so intense.
When there was no other way, He took the suffering.
He promises there will be a day when all the suffering ends.
It won’t be today.
The God who suffered is a God I can follow.
Still…today we will keep anointing, keep praying, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
Sometimes the answer is yes.
When it’s not, we will still see Jesus, and Jesus knows our sorrow.
Keep following Him.
There’s no other place to go…
Make your own application…