- Jim Townsley
- Sep 26, 2013
From time to time illness effects us all. A cold, the flu, or an injury is an unpleasant part of life that must be faced. However, it is my observation that unusual sicknesses and physical problems plague new church planters and their families. It seems Satan uses his greatest force against God's best servants and illness is one of the means he uses to hinder the work of God.
Scripture contains examples of godly men and women afflicted by the devil himself. Satan brought a severe injury and illness to Job. Paul had his thorn in the flesh, which seemed to be a physical affliction. Timothy frequently faced illnesses and infirmities as Paul relates to us in his writings. It may be of no consolation that others in the Bible faced sickness, but these examples were given in Scripture to remind us that God can use us in spite of infirmities. When illness strikes you or your family recognize that God has a plan to use this trial for His glory. Consider some of the possible reasons God uses illnesses in our lives:
1. Illness slows us down and causes us to reflect upon on God's purpose in our ministry.
2. Sickness humbles us and reminds us of our mortality and our need for God's help.
3. Physical trials give God an opportunity to show Himself strong and able to meet our needs.
4. Weaknesses bring us to our knees in prayer.
5. Injuries lead us to live a life of faith rather than sight.
I am certain there are many lessons that cannot be listed in this brief article, but they are special to you and your circumstances. How should you handle sickness and suffering when it comes? First of all, continue in the calling God has given you. When trials are severe there is a temptation to quit. Our own pain or the suffering of our family may cloud our ability to think clearly. This urge must be resisted no matter how difficult the circumstances may be. Satan will be pleased to know he has immobilized a Christian servant.
In Hebrews chapter eleven several men and women are recognized as having great faith. The amazing aspect of their is that they had faith during great trials and affliction. The greater the affliction and trial the more glory God receives. "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." - Zec. 4:6
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is history's most widely read preacher. Spurgeon suffered ill health toward the end of his life, afflicted by a combination of rheumatism, gout and Bright's disease. Today, more material is available by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author, living or dead. The famous missionary David Livingstone once asked him, "How do you manage to do two men's work in a single day?" Spurgeon replied, "You have forgotten that there are two of us and the one you see the least does the most." Susannah, Spurgeon's wife, became an invalid at age thirty-three and could seldom leave her bedchamber. Yet, she became the woman who found solace in suffering by ministering to the needs of others. Through her efforts poor preachers received books and materials free of charge to aid them in their preaching.
When sickness comes the church planter is forced to re-evaluate his activities to accommodate the situation. These changes may not always fit into the mold for successful church planting. It may seem the church the new church will grow without his intense labor. But if he is doing all that he can physically do, then God is able to step in and do what he cannot do. After all isn't God who gives the increase?
God does work all things for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Many a preacher can look back at life's trials and say he would never have chosen this difficult path. However, recognizing the leading of God through it all and realizing how much profit he has received by it, he would never change the path of God's leading.