“My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
God does powerful work through small things. But there is an important difference between small and shrinking; between passion for people and ties to tradition. I see 2 barriers (though not the only ones) to reviving one’s soul and reviving a church: one is spiritual and one is physical/emotional:
- Churches panic and look for quick fixes, rather than enter a season of repentance, spiritual discernment, and greater faithfulness. (More on this in a couple of weeks)
- People are overwhelmed by sickness, injury and pain. Doctor visits, medical treatments, hospital stays, new medications, grief, loss, distress. They all bring suffering, test one’s faith, and limit one’s ability to serve.
I’m preaching on The Bible and Chronic Illness (#2), and sharing from pastoral and personal experience. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was in 5th grade, and have been on medication ever since. Like all disorders and diseases, the body resists medication, so other treatment options are considered.
When I was in 18 years old, I went from being passionate about Christ and His church, to being disappointed with God. Doesn’t God heal? I wrestled with this biblically, which is the basis for my 2 part sermon series. Here’s an important passage from Paul that helped me, can help you and our congregation:
“I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited. I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
We don’t know what Paul’s illness was, but he suffered from a chronic condition. It was severe enough for him to plead with God to take it away. People with a chronic illness will have days like that.
Paul’s illness hampered his ministry but not his passion and vision. He traveled and planted churches when he could, and wrote pastoral letters when he couldn’t.
Churches supported him and his ministry when his health failed (Galatians 4:14). Churches thrived, the Gospel spread like wildfire and the world was transformed.
Illness is a reality that affects us all. It can keep us from functioning the way we want, but it doesn’t have to keep us from having a passion for Christ and a vision for his church.