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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why do sickness and death bother us so much?

Why do sickness and death bother us so much? Every one reading this, and the vast number who won't, will die, barring some miraculous event. All of us get sick, sometimes as a minor inconvenience, sometimes as a crippling incapacitation, and sometimes to death.

Why, then, don't we just accept this state of things? Why do we expect things to go right, when they almost never do?

There are probably a lot of different reasons for our rebellion against the way things are. I hope I understand part of the reasons.

I think that, deep in our DNA, or our unconscious, is the knowledge that things shouldn't be like this. So we complain, and rebel against the way things are. What do I mean, things shouldn't be like this? The Bible teaches us that the first humans lived in a world without human sickness and death. (Plants and animals probably died, or were killed by humans.) But that world changed drastically, because those first humans disobeyed God, the Creator. I believe that we somehow know that there has been a change, and long for it to be reversed, and complain at the consequences of that change, the Fall.

Some of us question God's goodness, or even His existence, because of the consequences of sin in the world. How could a loving God allow such terrible things to happen? If I had the full answer to that, I would be God, which I certainly am not. But part of the answer is that God suffers with us, probably more than we suffer ourselves. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus also took the consequences of our sin upon Himself, for those who are willing to let Him do so for them. In the process, Jesus, Himself, suffered. Granted, He didn't suffer as long as, say, a burn victim, but He did suffer.

Another part of the answer is that God is going to provide a Heaven for those who believe, free from sickness and death.

It is not wrong to want to do something about sickness. Jesus healed every person who asked Him to do so. He also raised a few people from death. The Bible suggests that we pray for sick believers. But healing everyone is not God's final answer. (See here for more of what the Bible says on that subject.) Consider, also, that everyone Jesus healed died, most likely of sickness, later in their life. Those He raised from the dead  
died a second time. The Bible says that death is the last enemy to be defeated.

I think we, including me, concentrate too much on sickness. Although all the churches I have attended, and can remember, prayed most of their prayers for the sick, the New Testament church didn't pray in that pattern.

Thanks for reading.

10 comments:

i am Grateful... Kerry i am. said...

Good words to reflect upon Martin. For example, we should spend more time praying that the Lord of the Harvest will send out workers in His Harvest fields.

Martin LaBar said...

Exactly. Thanks, Kerry i am.

Weekend Fisher said...

Whenever I think of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, I realize: to dislike death is not a sin. It is our testimony that life is good, and we are glad to live it.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

Jesus hated death, I think. We should, too. Not in ourselves, but in others.

Thanks, Anne.

Matthew Tietje said...

Great thoughts, Dr. LaBar. I've been thinking a lot lately on how death seems to be the only remaining taboo of our culture. We don't like to talk about it. But so many, years ago (and particularly early Christians), focused their attention on "dying well" rather than delaying death (our cultural focus).

Martin LaBar said...

Yes, they did. I read a fine book on that subject, entitled Mrs. Hunter's Happy Death, a couple of years ago.

Thanks.

Pete D said...

Which age in the historical record shows the existence of humans that did not die?

Pete D said...

It could also be that humans are aware of their mortality and understanding that there is no life after this one we would like to enjoy our time here as much as possible. Sickness and death kind of complicate that.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete D.

There is no such record, that I'm aware of, except for the biblical record of Enoch and Elijah, who were, apparently, translated to an afterlife without experiencing death.

Genesis seems to indicate that Adam and Eve, and perhaps their offspring, would not have died, if the Fall hadn't occurred.

Martin LaBar said...

I think that's true (about our frustration over mortality), in both people who believe in an afterlife, and those who don't.

Thanks, Pete D.