Pray for Health and Protection,
But Realize that God is Not an Insurance Policy
Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m a Christian, so I know God will protect me from illness, accident, and crime”? What does the Bible say? Jesus himself tells us to pray for our needs, such as food, for forgiveness for our sins, and for protection from Satan:
So this is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come—that what you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven. Give us the food we need for today. Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. Don't let us be tempted, but save us from the Evil One.”
—Matthew 6:9-13, ERV
But Jesus doesn’t say we will not have any disease, accident, injury, or other suffering and evil visit us. We are in a fallen world, where, until Jesus returns, Satan rules the world through his evil adherents, both demonic and human. Jesus tells us this himself: “I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over Me” (John 14:30). What does Jesus say about challenges and sufferings? He says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).
So what does this mean for the daily life of a Christian?
Let’s look at an example. Who in the Bible was chosen by God to write more than a dozen books of the Bible and to record and spread the Christian message throughout the entire Middle East? Who was honored to visit dozens of cities, towns, and villages, preaching to both Jews and Greek-speaking peoples?
Yes, it’s the Apostle Paul. You can imagine how God must have protected and smoothed the way of such a dedicated, strong, faithful, consecrated, energetic, obedient believer. Let’s see. Acts records much of Paul’s evangelistic and nurturing work:
Paul and Barnabas are persecuted and driven out of Pisdian Antioch (Acts 13:50).
· Jews and Gentiles attempt to stone Paul and Barnabas at Iconium (Acts 14:5).
· Paul is stoned at Lystra and left for dead (Acts 14:19).
· Paul and Barnabas get into a major disagreement and split up (Acts 15:39).
· Paul sees a vision calling him to Macedonia. He goes there and is stripped, beaten with rods and put in the stocks in prison (Acts 16:22-24).
· A mob searches for Paul in Thessalonica, so Paul must escape by night to Berea, but when he arrives, he is forced to flee from there, too (Acts 17:13-14).
· In Corinth, God appears to Paul in a vision and tells him that he won’t be persecuted in that city. Paul stays there 18 months (Acts 18:11).
· Paul’s ministry is interrupted by a riot in Ephesus (Acts 19).
· Some Macedonians plot to kill Paul, causing him to leave Macedonia for Troas (Acts 20:3-6).
· The Holy Spirit tells Paul that imprisonment and affliction await him in every city (Acts 20:23).
· Some believers warn Paul that persecution is ahead of him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:4, 11).
· Paul is seized by a mob in the Temple in Jerusalem and beaten until soldiers arrive (Acts 21:30-33).
· More than 40 men plot to kill Paul, but their plan is exposed (Acts 23:14ff).
· Paul is kept in prison for more than two years (Acts 24:27).
· On the voyage taking Paul to Rome, an enormous storm rises and tosses the boat around for two weeks. Then the ship hits the rocks and is destroyed (Acts 27).
· Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake, but he shakes it off into the fire (Acts 28).
In Paul’s own words:
Are they servants of Christ?--I speak as if insane--I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
—2 Corinthians 11:23-29 (NASB)
Huh? What happened? Is that the life a dedicated servant of Jesus can expect? Well, maybe. Pray for deliverance, but don’t expect to be granted a privileged life just because you signed on to the Christian program. Read God’s word in the Bible and get a realistic picture of the life of a believer. Then you won’t be surprised when your life takes an unhappy turn.
And when you do experience something pretty bad, please don’t wail or complain, or ask, “Where is God?” And don’t pray, “Oh, God, why are you doing this?” Instead, pray, “Dear Lord, help me to endure this suffering. Deliver me from it if that is your will, or if not, help me to persevere through it. And may every event in my life, good or bad, be used by you to produce good, because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.
—1 Peter 5:8-10
Remember that faith is trusting God when you don’t understand.
May the Lord God who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, convert everything meant for evil into good, and may he continue to shower his children with blessings, hope, and endurance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
—Robert Harris, www.virtualsalt.com, September 21, 2019