Why does God allow sickness?
Sickness can be a challenging topic. We think that a good and loving God would not allow sickness, and yet we know that sickness exists. We can begin to believe that sickness is the result of a person's sin. While that may sometimes be the case, sickness is often just a result of living in a fallen world. So why does God allow this?
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John 9 describes Jesus healing a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus' disciples asked if the man's blindness was caused by his sin or that of his parents. Jesus replied, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned … but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John 9:3 NIV). In this case, God allowed sickness in order that His glory might be shown.
If we trust in the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God, we know that nothing happens outside of His will (Matthew 10:29; Ephesians 1:11; Job 42:2), and we also know that everything He does is motivated by love (1 John 4:8; Luke 18:19). Therefore sickness must sometimes fit into His will and into His loving nature. This is not to say that God is the cause of sickness. As mentioned, sometimes sickness is just a natural result of living in a world marred by sin. At times sickness can also be an attack of Satan (Matthew 17:14-18; Luke 13:10-16). Sickness could be used to test and refine our faith, as Job's trials were. Sickness could also be a form of discipline, a tangible demonstration of imperfect life that leads us to greater dependence on and obedience to God (see Psalm 119:65-72).
An important thing to remember is that God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Often we do not understand exactly why God allows things to happen or causes things to happen a certain way. But we do know God and can trust in His character. He is for us (Romans 8:31-32). We also "know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). Even in a sickness we may not understand, we can trust that in God's timing the sickness will be redeemed. God will work it into His good purpose for our lives and for His glory.
One caveat. This truth is often not particularly comforting to someone in the grips of an illness. Yes, God knows His purpose in the sickness and that things will turn out for our good and His glory, but that purpose is not always evident to us. We legitimately go through times of questioning God and feelings of pain. God is not offended when we pour out our hearts to Him. We are allowed to approach God with our sicknesses, to request healing, and to share our hurt with Him. Look at the Psalms! We can be viscerally honest with God while still trusting in His goodness and faithfulness. God is not hardened to our emotions (John 11:35; Psalm 56:8); He cares for us and invites us to give our struggles over to Him (1 Peter 5:7).
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