Saturday, December 17, 2016

Speaking Through Sickness

Acts 9:1-19

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.   NIV Bible Gateway.com



   We never enjoy illness or affliction. After all, what good could possibly result from our ailments? God would never allow us to get sick for any reason—would He?

   The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Suffering is one of the consequences of living in a fallen world, so we shouldn't be surprised when it comes our way. However. God can use it to get our attention. If illness is what it takes for us to refocus on Him, that's exactly what He will allow to happen.
   Think about the apostle Paul. When we hear his name, we recall the missionary who spread the gospel during the first century. But this wasn't always the case. When we are first introduced to him, he is known as Saul, Christianity's enemy (Acts 9:1-2). So how did God get Saul's attention?
   The Acts account explains that the Lord appeared in a brilliant flash of light that only Saul could see. After revealing Himself, Jesus left Saul completely blind. This enemy of the church was now brought low, having to be led into town by hand, completely at the mercy of others.
   What went through Saul's mind during those three days of blindness? No doubt he was focused on one thing: Christ. By removing his sight, God took away all distractions during this vital time in the man's life.

   God's primary goal is our ultimate good, not our comfort or short-term happiness—He wants what is best for us in light of eternity. At times, this means He'll lay us flat on our backs for a season. If you experience such hardship, do pray for healing, but also play to discern His message to you in your sickness.
Stanley, Charles F. "Speaking Through Sickness."  In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living October 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. page 13.

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