Had an interesting conversation with a student friend this week about suffering. Why does God allow it? Why doesn't God always heal? Isn't it contrary to his character not to heal? Here are my thoughts:
1. It is right to pray for healing
2. We must accept that sometimes God chooses not to heal - not because we haven't enough faith, nor because we deserve to suffer - but so, therefore, because he decides it is best.
3. It isn't necessarily outside of God's character not to heal. If we are his, we will be healed one day, which may come sooner or later, and God is sovereign in his timing. To stick to his perfect timing is the most loving thing God can do.
4. We must allow God the right to decide when suffering begins and ends. The more I think about it, the more I think that a lot of good can come out of suffering. A friend of mine recently blogged, "Adversity reveals the reality of the human heart." One reason I don't like the fact that Anna is still ill is because it has revealed how impatient I really am. Whilst that is painful, it can only be a good lesson. And it is better that I suffer and learn that than not suffer at all.
So with Paul, "we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5) Or at least, I do this on my less sinful days!Also, if we must allow God the right to make the decisions on suffering, that is a sharp rebuke to those of us who don't like to think about the possibility of healing. So let's get praying for it!