Suffering; April 23, 2022


Isaiah 38:16-17 Lord, by such things men live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health and let me live.
Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.

Once again differences in translation between the English and the Japanese impart a different feel to the passage. Where the NIV says, “You restored me to health and let me live,” the Japanese expresses it as a request that the Lord would do that. Where the NIV says, “it was for my benefit,” the Japanese says, “it was for the sake of inner peace.” The last is easily understood because of the famous Hebrew word, shalom, which can mean a wide variety of things but is most often translated as peace. All of that aside, the fundamental point remains, that suffering can actually do us good. We tend to set a goal of zero suffering, but in this world that can create more problems than it solves. Right now we see a whole generation of young people who have been raised with that attitude, and they are total wimps! The idea that someone could have a strongly-held opinion that differs from theirs, even, sends them into melt-down. Pampering feels good in the short term, but it is disastrous in the long term. Hezekiah was a king, and he was certainly used to getting his way in everything. The Lord very graciously dealt with that. The last two verses of this chapter give real insight into the advance of medicine over the centuries, because they tell us that Hezekiah’s potentially fatal ailment involved a boil. We don’t think of boils as that serious, but this was long before any sort of antibiotics, and boils can lead to sepsis, which can certainly be fatal. We have many reasons to be grateful!

I am grateful that my parents weren’t over-protective, and I experienced various hard knocks that were for my benefit. At this point I tend to take illness and injury very much in stride – which isn’t at all to say that I enjoy them! A risk for me is seeming to be callous toward the suffering of others, and that is certainly not desirable. My wife has a list of health issues, and the latest is a rotator cuff injury which, though not potentially fatal, is certainly painful. We don’t know why God allowed this, or what benefit He is going to bring about because of it, but we do have the assurance that He never allows anything to happen to us that He can’t use for good. (Romans 8:28) In the meantime, I need to be the support and comfort Cathy needs, recognizing that in the unity of marriage, anything that happens to her happens to me. She is not very adept at slowing down, and I need to have God’s wisdom and guidance in helping her do that as He intends.

Father, thank You for this timely reminder. As my mother used to pray, I ask that you keep Cathy from any unnecessary pain and give her the wisdom she needs to flow with Your Spirit on Your schedule, receiving Your healing for her blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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