It's Not Natural!

Rob Stroup
Written by Rob Stroup

Hospital visits are a recurring event for a Senior Saints Pastor. I have the tremendous privilege of praying with dear Christians as they prepare for surgery or get medical attention for an illness. Sometimes I find a family struggling with sad news from a doctor. Often there is anxiety in addition to the pain when one is in the hospital bed. At a time like this, our role as caregivers and Christian family is to care for the sick and hurting with compassion and tenderness. But what if we are the patient? How does adversity affect our ability to minister to others? When we are in pain, it is not natural to think of the needs of others, because we are focusing on ourselves. But we have been called to live a supernatural life in Christ! Part of living like Christ is to endure affliction gracefully. It is not natural, it is supernatural. Only by the grace that God gives can we rise above our struggle to minister to others. I have seen Christians succeed in this supernatural activity, and I have seen Christians act just like natural people! Those that fail are doing the normal thing and no one is surprised that they become self-centered when they don’t feel well. Those that succeed in thinking of others amaze those around them as they smile at their caregivers and express concern and pray for those that minister to them or visit them. Until we are put into one of these tough situations, it is impossible for us to foresee how we will respond. But we can prepare ourselves by seeking God every day.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When on the cross, Jesus was suffering immeasurably. It was the worst execution Rome had prescribed for its most despised enemies. Yet as Christ endured the affliction, He was focused on others! Consider Jesus on the cross as the example on how to endure pain and discomfort in the will of God:

  1. Emotional trauma: We can only imagine the anguish when Christ saw God the Father turn His back on the sins that Jesus bore. “God estranged from God.” Matthew 27:46b... My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
  2. Physical needs: His physical cravings were severe. John 19:28c ... I thirst.
  3. Evangelistic zeal: While suffering, He cared for the lost. Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
  4. Caring for the caregivers: Though in anguish, He provided for His family and friends. John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
  5. Gentle forgiveness for those that caused pain: Perhaps the most difficult, Jesus prayed for His tormentors. Luke 23:34a Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
  6. Spiritual victory! At the end, Jesus shouted a Greek cry of victory for the glory of God! John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Just A Thought: Does your doctor know your Father is the Great Physician?