That seems to be the question on everybody's mind, doesn't it?
Bear with me here, I'm trying to think this through.
This week my pastor brought up the question of murmuring. We all do it. We compain about out aches and pains and how difficult being CI is. And yet, the pastor said, If Jesus never did one more thing for us than He has already done in saving us, we would have nothing to compain about for the rest of eternity.
It's had me thinking. I'm sure it's had a lot of us at my church thinking.
God is generous with us. From behind the filter of CI it doesn't come to mind that often. But it's nonetheless true. He ministers to us more than we know, and I think one of the great surprises and joys of heaven is going to be when we get to see that all the time He was right here with us, as close as breathing, keeping us safe.
But we're not safe, you say. We're sick.
Reading Romans (Paul again!) vss.1-6 in the Modern English Translation (Berkely translation) Paul tells us that we should glory in our afflictions.
Can you imagine that? I have, never once, considered glorying in my illness. Yet, that's what he says:
"Since, then, we have been pronounced righteous through faith,let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we also obtain through faith entrance to this grace in which we stand firm, and rejoice in the hope of God's glory. Not this alone, but we glory in afflictions as well; for we know that affliction produces patience, and patience develops a tried character, and character begets hope, such hope as does not disappoint; for God's love is poured out into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. For when we were still helpless, Christ at the proper time died for the ungodly."
So then, our CI is working into us patience and tried character and hope - and God's love is pouring into our hearts. Wow! that's a lot!
Perhaps that is why God entrusted us with these afflictions. He wants to develop in us things that we wouldn't get from a busy AB life. Although I don't feel more patient, I trust that the Word is true, and something is developing in me that God prizes, and the means of that development is my illness.
Now, I realize, as Amy Carmichael said, that I am writing for those who know far more than I do about the awful, trampling power of pain. She talks often about how in acceptance lies peace. And I have found it to be true in my life
Pain draws us close to God. CSLewis said God whispers to us in our joys, but shouts to us in our pain. That's because when we are in pain, we hear better. We are listening. We are not distracted by the busyness of daily living. I know that when I was AB and out and about, working and supporting myself and "taking care of business" I didn't listen well. I still feel like I don't listen well, but He finds ways to speak to me - most often when I least expect it.
I met a man at a church board meeting in Seattle whose spirit has become so very sweet through pain - it's left me deeply humbled . He hasn't swallowed anything in over 20 years - his cancer and radiation and surgery removed his salivary glands, part of his jaw and tongue. He speaks with slurred speach and receives nourishment through a tube, and yet he comes to Christmas dinners and smiles as others chow down and the joy just radiates from him - he still has a michievous look in his eye and is great at teasing. I have a feeling I couldn't do that in a million years.
But God didn't call me to do that. He didn't call me to do what you have to do each day either. He's called each one of us to a walk that He intends to grow us up and give us wings.
Too often I forget the wings part.
The Word says all the ways of the Lord are good. All. Not some. All. Not "all except my illness." Not "all except this part that I hate". It says "all."
So back to the original question at the top. "Why?"
I am not a theologian. I am a sinner saved by grace because if it wasn't for that grace, I wouldn't be saved. But I think the "why" of illness has to do with the fact that God has a plan for our lives, for good and not evil. He has promised to restore all the years the locust has eaten - and if CI isn't a locust, I don't know what is. He has so many promises in His Word to sustain us and give us peace, but they can't come to us unless we accept His right to do as He wishes with us. I firmly believe He is the only cause of anything that happens in our lives. This illness came to me directly from His hand. It came to me for good and not for evil. He hides treasures in the darkness the Word says - but sometimes it takes awhile for our eyes to get used to the dark. And CI is an excellent way to teach us to see in the darkness.
Have you ever noticed that the tiniest pinprick of light shines like a beacon in the darkness? And just think, God's being is light itself - "in Him is no darkness at all". James tell us there is no shadow of His turning - because He Himself is Light. He is using our CI to give us keen eyesight in the darkness, to see the treasures it holds, to appreciate His light - and to form patience, and character and all the rest.
Is that not enough reasons to answer the "why?" that the evil one whispers in our ears?