I am home sick today. Sickness is about the only way to keep me out of church. Today I was scheduled for three responsibilities, but God had other plans. A Francis Chan sermon I found on You Tube this morning reminded me that our sovereign God humbles those who need to humbled. Chan used King Nebuchadnezzar’s words in Daniel 4 to prove his point (Dan. 4:34-35). Indeed, God humbles the arrogant. I think He also humbles His people at strategic times. It is no coincidence that I enter 2011 with a sinus infection. I am typically sick at the beginning of a new year. I think it is God’s way of teaching me that He is in charge of my life and that–without Him–I will accomplish nothing in the months to come. Do you remember what Nebuchadnezzar did when he realized that God had humbled him? He worshipped! That’s my plan of action today as well! In the seventeenth century, Blaise Pascal wrote a prayer, asking God to use sickness in his life appropriately. It began with, “O Lord, whose Spirit is so good and gracious in all things, and who is so merciful that not only prosperities but even the adversities that happen to your elect are the effects of your mercy, give me grace not to act like the unbelievers in the state you bring me into by your justice. Instead, like a true Christian, help me to acknowledge you as my Father and my God, in whatever circumstances you may place me. For no change of my circumstances can ever alter your will for my life. You are ever the same, though I may be subject to change. You are no less God when you are afflicting and punishing me than when you are consoling and showing compassion” (The Mind on Fire: An Anthology of the Writings of Blaise Pascal, James M. Houston, ed., Multnomah Press, 1989, p.285). That’s a big view of God! It’s a biblical view of God. The Bible knows nothing of the concept of a disengaged deity who allows cause and effect to rule the universe. I am sick this weekend because my sovereign God knew that my sickness would bring about His plan for His great glory and my great good (Rom. 8:28). In that, I take great comfort! My productivity might be limited, but His will is being accomplished.
PS–I am so thankful for the examples of suffering saints who have blazed the trail in front of me. Piper is reminding me of three in the book Filling Up The Afflictions of Christ. The subtitle is: “The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton.” I have also been encouraged by the God-exalting suffering of John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada and Matt Chandler. I want to suffer well today, and in whatever circumstances in which I find myself in the future.