A few years back I was chatting on the phone with a Charismatic (as in the religious belief in miraculous gifts of the Spirt being current) friend. I shared with her the sometimes debilitating back pain I suffer, and I also said that in some ways it had been a blessing, because I get some of my best Bible reading done in the wee hours of the morning when my back aches won’t let me sleep. She told me pain was never a blessing, and that God never gave anybody pain. I challenged her to read Paul Brand’s book _In His Image_, to see what a gift pain could be.
From where I sit, God is much more awesomely glorified by people who, like Job, continue to trust God and hold tightly on to faith in Him as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. These are the heroes of the faith, inspirational, and they forge a path some of us may yet have to walk, and they forge it with grit and determination and ever growing faith.
It’s easy to praise the Lord in what we perceive as good and pleasant circumstances. It’s much more glorifying to praise Him in what we perceive to
be hard life experiences.
We tend to judge circumstances as good or bad (painful or not painful) based on how we feel about them here and now. We act as though what is happening now matters more than what will happen to us later. But we are characters in the middle of a story being written by Someone Else. We don’t know the end of the story, and perhaps we never will.
We don’t always even understand correctly the parts of the story we’ve already
read (and lived). We, and our feelings, are not the standard. Our judgement of what is good or bad for us right now is hopelessly flawed, and crippled by our inability to read the future.
The Bible does not say, “count it all joy, when you fall into various trials
*Except physical ones* knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Job was not stricken with physical illness because of his lack of faith, nor
was he healed because of his faith. All that happened to him had very little
to do with him, and everything to do with God and the accuser. Even the
Devil knew, if you read that story, that there’s little glory in praising God
when you’re well.
When we pray for the sick, we need to pray both for healing AND for strength and comfort and the blessing of being a living monument to God, glorifying Him through our continuous faith and reliance upon Him even in the face of great pain and suffering.