The Silence of the Lamb (Part 2)

“In your case, Dad, it was definitely sin.”  “Thanks, son.”  He’s supposed to be an arrow in my quiver (Psa. 127:4)?

After my younger son, Noah read my blog entitled “The Silence of Lamb” he knew the answer to the question posed at the end (“Does sin cause illness?”).  Thanks for comments, encouragement and prayers Marcia, Gary, Tanya, Shanlamb, Joanne, Margie, Diane, Kenyon, Gotbygrace and Miley.

For the past few months I have had damage to my vocal cords (nodes) and since I saw my ENT in August, I have been trying to not speak unless absolutely necessary.  Last week I canceled 5 speaking engagements in October.  This has been brutal for me as an Extrovert.  I have been cycling through one of the most discouraging periods of my life.  Since I can’t speak, blogging helps me process it.

To address the question, there are examples of people in the Bible who were punished by God with illness (Kenyon listed these):

1) Zechariah (Luke 1).
2) Miriam (Num. 12).
3) Gehazi, Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 5).
4) The paralytic at the pool (John 5:14).

Other texts make it clear that God both wounds and heals (Exo. 4:11; Deut. 32:39).  God also brings a plague upon his people for their idolatry (Num. 25).

But then there are other text that make it clear that sometimes innocent people suffer (yes, all humans are generally sinful).  Jesus declares that the man born blind was innocent (John 9:3; image source here).  The most obvious of an innocent sufferer is Job (Job).  Job’s story is a bit confusing because the adversary (ha-satan in Hebrew) brings on the sickness, but God allowed it.  In any case, Job was righteous (Job 1:1, 8).

Frequently, innocent people suffer for the sin of others. In a contrast to the plague of Numbers 25, God sends a plague on Israel due to David’s sin of taking a census (2 Sam. 24–although this one is tricky because YHWH incited him to do it in the first place, hmm…).

So, it takes wisdom to decide, “Is this suffering brought on:

1) By my own sin?
2) By other’s sin?
3) By Satan?
4) To test me?

In her comments, Tanya wisely cautions us from making hasty decisions about the sins of others causing their sickness.  This attitude is what Jesus responded so strongly against with the man born blind (John 9:3).  We can ask this question for ourselves, but only rarely should we attempt to make judgments for others.

Honestly, I think Noah was right.  Part of my sickness is due to my sin.  And like Gary said, I need to repent, which I’ve done, and then bear fruits that befit repentance, which I’m trying to do.

The clearest thing we see from the Gospels is that Jesus wanted to heal sickness.  This is a major theme of the gospels that is unfortunately often ignored (outside of the charismatic movement).

But I also think God is trying to teach me something during this period of the Silence of Dave Lamb, and I’ll be focusing on those lessons in the next blog in this series.

What lessons does God teach us through sickness? 

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6 comments

  1. Who incited David to take the census? Compare 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1! But in both passages, David takes full responsibility (1 Chron. 21:8 and 2 Sam. 24: 10)! Interesting!

  2. I love your thorough analysis here, and your willingness and courage to look deep into your own heart.

    It is an interesting statement, ‘part of my sickness is due to my sin’, which has intrigued me! I’m like, is it a totally unrelated sin which God is convicting you of which is coming out in sickness? or do you see it as a sinful way of using your voice too much which has led to its overuse? I’m genuinely interested in how you think it works for you.

    For me, though I am hot on saying that my illness is not my fault, in that it is a physical illness, AND i was given horrendously bad medical advice AND it’s a mysterious illness which seems to haunt people for years or kill them for no clear reason – I can also still say, ‘part of my sickness is due to my sin’. This is because the idolatrous perfectionist streak in me meant that I continued to push myself where others may have rested and recovered. I write about this in my blog post, ‘The day that changed my life.’ http://tanyamarlow.com/the-day-that-changed-my-life/

    That is one thing my illness has taught me – boundaries, saying no, the instinct within my own heart to make myself famous and likeable rather than prizing my relatinoship with God and holding on loosely to ministry because it is His gift, and His to take away. Ministry can become an idol, and it is a difficult one to realise. ‘Let me be laid aside for thee’ is a harder prayer than ‘let me be employed for thee’.

    I look forward to hearing what God is teaching you!

  3. I’m not so sure about this.

    I don’t think God is punishing you for sin.

    Sometimes we can be tempted to think that because there’s then a chance that confessing it will make us better.

    We live in a world of where sickness exists! That’s it for me.

    You’re spot on that God loves you. He hates sickness – it moved Jesus to tears. He hates your sickness – it moves Him to tears.

  4. Robert, I hope you find the book helpful.

    Marg, great points. I don’t have a good answer, but it is troubling to compare those two texts. How do you reconcile that? Some people go to Job 1,2, which can help.

    Tanya, honest, deep, profound. You’ve thought more about this than me. I can only speak for myself (this also addresses Matt W’s comment), but I have felt convicted lately of several things during this period of health crisis. Perhaps the biggest, is that I don’t really depend on God–lack of prayer, lack of personal Scripture study, lack of faith/trust in my life. So, this whole crisis forces me to be more dependent, which is good ultimately. Boundaries are hard to set up.

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