Who Sinned To Make This Happen?

Q. I was somewhat disturbed by your response to the one who asked about sickness in “good” people. My spirit sort of lurched when I read that, and it struck me very much like advice coming from one of Job’s friends: technically accurate, but incomplete and (perhaps) incorrectly applied.

Sure, we are all sinners; certainly we deserve nothing but God’s eternal wrath; yes, we are nothing but unworthy servants. Yet, He’s adopted us into His family; He tells us that there is no longer any condemnation; He tells us to come boldly toward the throne of grace.

So, who sinned, me or my wife that she (and my son) live with chronic illness, yet I live in comparative heath (though partially blind from birth)? By your previous answers, we might conclude that there is no difference between us and the most grievous sinner: only that we are getting more of what we deserve of the consequences of our and the world’s corporate sin.

I suppose this is possible, but what about this: God can surely heal us; in fact, in His time, He already has and we simply must wait for our time to intersect His. Meanwhile, He uses our infirmity to strengthen other people. I could go on and on about how God is growing us through these experiences, but that could be said to be a response to our situation rather than a cause of it.

Certainly what I’ve shared here is not the entire answer either, but my spirit says that it’s a necessary addition to temper the (perfectly true) views that you have presented.

A. In answering questions on this topic I always put myself in the right frame of mind by recalling Deut. 32:4. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” If God is just and all His works are perfect then He simply cannot afflict an innocent person.

As God was leaving Mamre to visit judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham cried after Him, “Far be it from you to treat the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you. Will not the Judge of all the Earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25) The Lord agreed to spare the cities if there were even 10 righteous people among them.

And yet we know that those who appear to be innocent are sometimes afflicted while those who act in a manner deserving of affliction often escape. Who is to blame? The answer of course is Satan. He caused the fall of man and in so doing introduced sickness and death into the creation. God did not create the world this way. When He gave it to Adam and Eve it was perfect. But as a consequence of their sin it was made imperfect and has been ever since. So there’s a general tendency toward sickness and disease in the creation. Some are afflicted to a greater degree than others, and the extent to which we suffer is without rhyme or reason because Satan is not just and is not bound by the need to do right.

Given that overview, there are things we can do to either aggravate or mitigate our circumstances and that’s what I was referring to in my answer. As I read it again, I agree that it sounds pretty harsh. But the food we eat, the air we breathe, our relationships, our emotions, and our relationship with God have all been shown to affect our health and well-being. Our habits can bring on sickness and can speed up, slow down or even prevent our healing. Yet most of us ignore one or more of these things and many ignore all of them.

But I wasn’t then, nor have I ever made a direct connection between a believer’s sickness and his or her sins. As I said, the world is a fallen place, we’re a fallen people, we’re all susceptible, and it isn’t fair.

God has promised to protect us and to heal us but being just, and having given us autonomy, even He is limited by our choices. And yet, if we’re willing to let Him, He can make our lemons into an amazing lemonade that nourishes and refreshes all with whom we come into contact. Your own experiences testify to that. May He continue to bless you, and may He speed the day of your healing.

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