Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

LIFE ISSUES

 

There continues to be a significant amount of confusion in the Body of Christ concerning the issues that gather around the theme of sickness, suffering and healing. As you might expect with the still recent death of my wife, this subject has taken on new energy for me. All the more because she suffered as she deteriorated over a two year period.

Currently my issue is, “Who is responsible?”

I can still quite vividly recall looking at Bev (when she didn’t know I was looking) and, beneath my breath, saying things like:

*“What is the point of this suffering?”

*“Is this really you, Lord? If it is, why are you doing this to my wife?”

*“Are you are the One (God forbid!) Who afflicts us with sickness and suffering?”

*“Or are you the one who ‘allows’ sickness and suffering even if you do not initiate it?”

*“If you allow it yet have the power to change it, isn’t that the same as initiating it?”

Then one day just recently a phrase was whispered into my heart, “An enemy has done this!”

I knew that was a phrase or a statement of Jesus, probably in one of the parables. With the technology and resources available to us today, it didn’t take long to track that phrase to the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13, vs.24-30

Now I acknowledge that the context of this teaching was not sickness and suffering. Rather it had to do with a farmer and ‘agricultural sabotage’! However I believe there are Kingdom principles in this parable (as in all parables) that provide a framework for our learning. In other words, Jesus’ parable  can have an application and be an illustration of truth  beyond the immediate context.

The fields of the farmer were receptive of the good seed. No doubt both the farmer and his workers anticipated a good crop as they sowed the seed. The Kingdom of heaven is like that, so said Jesus.

But there was another who had different plans for the farmer’s fields and the future harvest.

This ‘other’ is denoted by one word, “Enemy”. A reference no doubt to the devil himself.

The strategy was to sow black wheat under cover of darkness and to spoil – even ruin – the final harvest.

Black wheat is initially almost identical in appearance to the real thing. It is only as it ripens that the difference becomes obvious. That is why the farmer refused the suggestion of his workers to pull out the weeds then and there; they most likely would pull up the real wheat as well.

If you can think in terms of the black wheat being like sin, sickness and suffering sown in our world and it is the decision of the farmer to protect the good seed until the harvest has come and the false seed is  exposed for what it is, then you may also be able to embrace two further thoughts.

You may or may not be able to agree with the farmer’s decision to not remove the black wheat but that is His decision. The farmer gave a reason to his workers for not removing the black wheat. God doesn’t often give a reason for not removing the sickness and suffering in our world NOW.  He will (like the farmer in His parable) remove all those negatives. But the timing of “when” is His to choose.

       What is clear (I think, anyway) when we look at the suffering and sickness in our world is this:

“An    enemy has done this!” He operates under cover of darkness. His purpose is to ruin the coming harvest.

For my part, I have chosen to build my theology of sickness and suffering on this basic truth, “An enemy has done this!!

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