The Reality of Sin and its Effects
I hate sin.
Turn on the news and witness its effects. The powerful murder and rape the weak. Liars distort truth. Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis wipe out entire cities. Molestation, political corruption, persecution, disease, and famine destroy civilizations.
Look in the mirror and see its face. Adulterer, thief, molester, idolator, glutton, deceiver, and more.
I spent the last week at the hospital with my dying great grandfather. Long pauses between his breaths make you hold your own as you wait for his next. A witness to death's climax – ironically slow and unassuming – my family waits. His spirit ready, but his body desperately fighting, we wait.
But death did not come. God isn't finished with him, so he lives on.
I return home from the hospital and read a facebook update on a boy dying in a hospital bed in Dallas. Trey Freeman is 6 years old. He is fighting a rare cancer that affects his blood. He began treatment earlier this year. Yesterday, his lungs began to fill with fluid. He was moved to ICU where he remains in critical condition.
I hate sin, but not enough.
I don't have a child. I won't even attempt to understand the pain of watching your child suffer. I can assign words to feelings that I only understand in theory. Nevertheless, it rouses my disgust of sin and deepens my longing for heaven. I have nothing to offer in response but prayer.
Christians Pray Differently Than the World
In her song, "Laughing With," Regina Spector sings “God can be funny at a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke,” A few verses later, the airplane shakes, the doctor calls with bad news, and the bullets begin to fly - all laughter has vanished in the midst of tragedy. Suddenly, God isn't so ridiculous.
The threat of death or pain has caused many nonbelievers to kneel before God in desperation. When our sense of control is lost, prayer is a natural response for anyone. But how does the prayer of an unbeliever differ from that of Christian? If we were to hear the prayers of non-believers, would they sound different than our own?
We confess our weakness when we pray. Prayer comes from desperation, an admittance that we need help beyond ourselves. When the unbeliever comes before God, he is only concerned with his own desires being answered. His personal desire trumps God's, and any response from God that differs from that desire is unacceptable.
The unbeliever is unable to see beyond his own needs. God doesn't always heal the sick, that is a reality we must wrestle with (Men and women in the bible certainly did). When He doesn't heal, the unbeliever becomes bitter, doubts Gods existence and goodness. In his eyes, God is either a failure or a bully. But the unbeliever's hope lies solely in immediate miracles. Not so with the Christian.
Christians pray differently in the midst of suffering - or at least we should. The Christian's hope isn't in miraculous healing alone. Our hope goes much deeper than that. Even those miraculously healed have bodies that will deteriorate; all of us face death. The unbeliever despairs when the miraculous doesn't come, because his only hope is in the here and now. The Christian can rejoice because our hope is not in a physical cure, but in a promise awaiting us in heaven.
Our hope is in the redemptive work of Christ. Our hope is in a new body, fully free from sin, disease, and death. Our hope is in a new earth where disaster and famine are impossible. Our hope doesn't hinge on God's temporary healing today, but on permanent healing in eternity. This healing goes beyond the physical. This healing penetrates our very souls. Far from temporary, this healing is perfect and everlasting. That's what the Christian hopes for. And when physical healing doesn't come, we do not have to despair.
No matter the outcome, the Freemans have been given an opportunity to put knowledge into action by modeling a biblical response to suffering. The world will watch perplexed at their peace. And no matter the outcome, God is setting the stage for his gospel to be preached and spread. The Freeman's, and our own response to suffering, will have eternal significance.
I ask you to join me in prayer for Trey. Pray that God would grant Trey a testimony of God's mercy now through his healing. Ask for peace for Trey's parents and brothers and sisters. As you pray, find peace in God's sovereignty. It is our desire that God would heal Trey, and we ask for that. But our strongest desire is for God's Glory to be made known. The beautiful thing is, no matter the outcome, Trey wins either way.
If his body is healed, God be praised. God will use it for his glory.
If death does come, find comfort in that God is not finished with him . A new body awaits. Even more, eternity. God will use it for his glory.
For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:18 ESV