Sticky Questions

  • Feb. 7, 2008
  • #6724

Joni shares a question from Shannon who has a disabled son and was told that his disability is due to a "spirit of infirmity" and encourages Sharon by explaining that God's plan in our suffering is often beyond our understanding.

Not long ago I received an email from Shannon who has a disabled son - her neighbor has been insisting that the little boy's affliction is caused by "a spirit of infirmity."  The neighbor is suggesting that that child is under the influence of the devil.  Now I tell you what, Shannon has been shaken by this neighbor and she wrote to ask my advice about this sticky question.  Well, I was able to tell Shannon that I completely understood her frustration and anxiety.  There were a lot of people who said the same thing to me when I suffered a spinal cord injury at first.  There was one elder from a nearby church who told my father that my diving accident was related to my erratic church attendance!  Can you believe that? 

When people make these kinds of broad and sweeping judgments, it's always good to go directly to God's Word, isn't it.  That's where sticky questions get unstuck.  And in Luke 13:11 we do learn about a deformed woman who had "a spirit of infirmity."  She had an ailment that Satan had caused.  Nevertheless, God was the one who gave permission.  After all, Ephesians 1:11 says that all things (not just some things, but even devilish things) all these things fall under the authority of God.  Satan can only touch us if he receives permission from God.  The devil cannot go around and wreak havoc wherever and whenever he wants.  We're told in Luke 22 about an incident where the devil had to ask God if he could elbow in on the apostle Peter's comfort zones.  Just like in the example of Job, our adversary can only operate under strict constraints. 

In the meantime, as I told Shannon, there is nothing to fear.  Whether an illness or injury comes to us indirectly through Satan, or directly through the disciplining hand of God, we have nothing to fear.   Our Father is in charge.  Our wise heavenly Father is in control of the hardships and the suffering in Shannon's life, and in the lives of you and me.  He allows a child's disability or even a disease for his own good purposes. 

First Peter 4:19 says, "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." Friend, our responsibility is simply to trust and obey.  That's what committing ourselves to our faithful Creator means - trusting God.  And continuing to do good is obeying him.  Those who suffer according to God's will should trust and obey.  Trying to figure out God's plan and purpose in it all, in other words "Am I being harassed by a spirit of infirmity or is this thing disciplinary action from the Lord?"  Trying to understand those kinds of questions may well be beyond our reach.  Often God's plan in suffering, although wise and good, is hidden from our sight and is not going to be revealed until eternity.  So Shannon and you and I simply need trust and obey... and leave the sticky questions to our Heavenly Father.

©  Joni and Friends

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