Monday, July 28, 2014

6 insights on praying through Pain

Read Isaiah 38.

In what he felt was the "middle" of his life (v.10), good King Hezekiah became severely ill.  The LORD sent Isaiah to inform the king that he would die.  According to verse 6, this event took place prior to the Assyrian invasion of Judah.  It is obvious from the king's prayer that this sickness was not because he had done anything wrong.  Indeed, with quite a degree of confidence he was able to say to God that he had been faithful (v.3).

God heard his prayer and extended the king's life for fifteen more years.  The prophecy came with a miraculous sign (vv.7-8).  As it turned out, this episode was a test of Hezekiah's faith.  How would he respond under this threat?  Would he blame God or thank God?  Would he curse or pray?  Hezekiah made an A on the test.

What do we learn from this story?

1. Not all sickness is the result of sin or wrongdoing.
This was a faithful, godly man.  Passing this personal, life-threatening stress prepared him to trust God even more during the national threat.  God's tests are designed to strengthen us spiritually.

2. All healing is temporal.
Sooner or later, every one will die.  Even Lazarus died again.  Hezekiah's healing simply gave him fifteen more years to serve the nation in a time of great need.  God answered his prayer in order for the LORD to fulfill His plan.  God was not through with him.  With 15 years of added life, history records that Hezekiah died in 686 B.C.  That places this stressful time in 701 B.C., the same year the Assyrians invaded.

3. It was for his welfare.
In verse 17, Hezekiah could see how this turned out for his benefit.  The Apostle Paul wrote: "All things work together for good" (Romans 8:28), but we have to look for and trust God for the purpose in pain.  This is a difficult task when it does not make sense to us.  The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:71: "It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes."

4. It is the mercy of God that we do not receive what we deserve.
High stress causes all our impurities to rise to the surface.  The king was grateful in verse 17 that the LORD "cast all my sins behind your back."  Acknowledging one's sins and receiving God forgiveness helps us understand God's compassion on us.  It is also the basis for us to understand the sin of others and our ability to forgive them.  Those who know the mercy of God become merciful people.

5. Trust God and take your medicine.
Isaiah came with a treatment for the boil that cured the illness.  This was  not a lack of faith on Hezekiah's part but thankfully receiving God's provision for him.

6. There is a promise for every pain.
God gave Hezekiah two promises in verses 5 and 6.  His life was extended and his people would be protected from this enemy.  How crucial it is for our well-being and spiritual growth to know the word of God!  His written promises sustain us, come what may.

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