Silence of the Lamb

Silence of the Lamb (Part 3)

I have been silent lately.  My vocal cords are damaged (nodules), probably due in part to reflux (which is probably due in part to stress).  Since I’m not supposed to talk, I have been blogging about my struggles.  (At my last ENT appointment, the doctor said speaking softly (but not whispering) is probably OK, so I’m speaking a bit more these days, but I still recently canceled 5 speaking engagements for Oct.)

In part one of the series, I concluded by asking, “Does sin cause illness?”  In part two, I concluded by asking, “What lessons does God teach us through sickness?

In response to the Part 2 question, here are a few lessons that God is teaching me through this crisis.

1) One of the most difficult biblical commands is, “Be slow to speak” (James 1:19).  James tells everyone to be slow to speak and quick to listen, but so much of who we are comes out as we speak.  Not speaking has really been brutal (particularly as I’m trying to process everything going on), but it has helped me obey James.  That’s good.

2) Sometimes Yes/No questions are good.  In the past, I denigrated, insulted, even ridiculed Y/N questions (since they shut down conversation), but of late Y/N questions have been my friend.  I can answer them without speaking.  I now have a deeper appreciation for Y/N questions.  That’s good.

3) People with disabilities have it hard.  Yes, I know compassionate people have known this for a long time, but my experience of a very slight disability has given more appreciation for how difficult would be to have a serious disability.  That’s good.

4) Words don’t need to be spoken.  As I struggled to figure out how to communicate what’s going on, I thought about the apostle Paul as he was stuck in prison.  He couldn’t visit churches, but he could still communicate with letters.  Fortunately, we now have those letters in our Bible.  Would we have been deprived of those letters had he not been “silenced” by his jail cell?  Perhaps.   So, now I write more emails to friends and family.  That’s good.  (Although, my emails probably won’t get added to the Bible.)

5) Prayer can happen without spoken words.  Yes, I know this also is obvious, but speaking less to people, has pushed me to speak more to God.  Even though I can’t talk to people, I can pray for them.   That’s very good.

Image: http://revwheeler.com/tag/discernment/

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? 

The Silence of the Lamb (Part 1)

And behold, you will be silent and unable to speakthe Angel Gabriel to Zechariah (Luke 1:20).

There are 28 Zechariah’s in the Bible (according to The New Bible Dictionary).  But I feel a deep bond with the one who was the Father of John the Baptist right now.  Because he doubted the word of the angel that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son, he was striken mute.  The mean God of the New Testament strikes again.  No one is struck mute in the Old Testament.  (I’m an OT guy.)

I have been struck mute.  Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like.  My vocal cords have somehow become damaged.  My ENT told me I should not talk unless absolutely necessary until my vocal cords heal.  The Silence of the Lamb (our housemate, Dave suggested that we watch a certain film with a similar title, see 2nd image).  I need to talk when I teach (Mondays, Thursdays), but otherwise I’m trying to avoid speaking completely.

Possible causes of my vocal cord damage:
1) From yelling while coaching.  I’ve coached my sons’ soccer and basketball teams the past 6 years.
2) From teaching too much.  It’s my job.  I talk a lot.  I’m loud.  Ask the people who work with me.
3) From reflux.  Reflux is caused in part by stress.  This past summer my wife’s brother Randall passed away, my mom passed away, and my dad was hospitalized.  It’s been an extraordinarily stressful summer.

I was given an array of meds to help with the Reflux.  A few days after I starting taking these meds, my reflux became worse.  I don’t know why this happened, but my stress levels have rocketed up lately.  One of the meds gave me headaches and now I can’t talk about how I’m feeling.  There’s a lot going on, but I don’t have a good way to express it.

To be honest, this has been brutal for me personally.

To help me express myself, my wife Shannon downloaded Verbally, an app for my iPad that speaks what you type.  It works pretty well, and I shouldn’t complain because it was free, but it’s not very loud.  I’ve grown accustomed to being loud.  So people can’t hear me “speak” unless everything is quiet.  There are two voices in the free version, “Rosie” and “Dave,” but “Dave” does not sound at all like Dave.

So, now I’m wondering, is God punishing me for some sin?  God was clearly punishing Zechariah for his doubt.  There are certainly many sins of mine that God could be targeting.  (I don’t have time to list all of them here.)

What do you think, does sin cause illness?  What relevant biblical examples can you think of?

Images from http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/zechariah.html
http://natashabagley4.blogspot.com/2011/02/silence-of-lambs-poster-analysis.html