I had the unpleasant experience the other week of going to the emergency room. Thankfully, it did not end up as an emergency. However, it was during that trip that I couldn’t help but notice the other people around me who were suffering in obvious pain, some more than others. I thought back to the Feast of Tabernacles. This year we enjoyed, for the most part, health and well-being at the Feast. We recognize that the Feast pictures, among other things, a time when sickness and disease will be a thing of the past. It made me sad to see these sick people.
In the subsequent days that followed, I also began to see another lesson emerge. Thinking back on my time in the Emergency Room, I found it interesting how Christ had compassion for sick people (Matthew 14:14). We in God’s Church ought to have that same compassion for others. In Matthew 9:12-13 we read that it is the sick that need healing. But Christ went on to say that compassion was more useful than sacrifices.
When we go through physical pain and suffering, it is an opportunity for us to do a few things. God sometimes uses physical pain and suffering as an opportunity to help us draw closer to Him. Think of the Apostle Paul whom God blinded for a few days (Acts 9:9). Think of King Hezekiah, who was told he was going to die (Isaiah 38:1-5). What about the grievous trial Job went through, including the loss of family, possessions and health, leading to genuine repentance (Job 42:5-6). Just using these three examples, out of many, one of the main outcomes was that of humility. They each learned in a different fashion what it means to come to have Godly humility.
This new-found humility allowed God to work with them in even more powerful ways. God gave compassion to these men once they turned fully to Him. God HAS called us NOW (Isaiah 55:6-9). No matter what God tells us and what may be at stake—when we turn to Him with humility, He can and will forgive us. He will have compassion for us, His children (Isaiah 44:22).
Our physical sufferings can be for our benefit and for the benefit of others, if we stop and carefully consider our ways, and if we take the opportunity to find compassion and empathy for others who go through similar suffering. Let us never forget that God loves the humble person, who is willing to lean on Him for all things, including our physical health and well-being.