SUFFERING - (People in the Bible)

People in the Bible who Suffered

*WHO: Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19)
Naaman was the commander of the army of the King of Syria.

 *WHAT: Leprosy

*HIS RESPONSE TO HIS ILLNESS: To seek healing. He went to Elisha the prophet of God. He expected an instantaneous healing.

*THE ENDING: He was told by Elisha the prophet to wash in the Jordan seven times, and that his flesh would be restored to him. At first, he was furious as this was not an instantaneous healing, and he did not want to have to 'do anything' for his healing. His servants talked him into doing what Elisha had told him to do, though, and he ended up being healed. He also ended up believing (v 15) 'that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel'.

*WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS EXAMPLE: We may want a 'don't have to do anything' instant cure from God or a 'magic pill' from the doctor, but there may be some act of obedience expected on our part. Are we open to it?

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 *WHO: Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1-11)

*WHAT: Some kind of boil. He was near death.

*HIS RESPONSE TO HIS ILLNESS: He prayed and wept bitterly upon his bed. He asked the LORD to remember how he walked faithfully with Him. Perhaps hoping the LORD would grant him mercy because of it.

*THE ENDING: Isaiah the prophet had told Hezekiah that God said that he would die. Yet as Hezekiah prayed, the LORD had Isaiah go right back in to Hezekiah and tell him that He saw his tears and heard his prayer and would 'surely heal him'. God said He would give him 15 more years to live.

Then Isaiah said to place a lump of figs on Hezekiah's boil, and Hezekiah recovered.

 *WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS EXAMPLE: First of all, God does hear our cries and does see our tears! This should be very comforting! Of all the millions of people on the earth at the time, many of which may have been praying to Him for one thing or another, He both heard and saw Hezekiah. God has that ability. He can see, hear, and act upon the prayers of multitudes all at the same time. We have an amazing God.

Secondly, God said He would 'surely heal' Hezekiah, yet Isaiah orders figs to be placed on the boil. This appears to be an example of God working through His natural created things to bring about a cure. If this were a supernatural, instantaneous healing, having nothing to do with the figs, then there would be no need for Isaiah to put figs on the boil at all, as God does not need any 'help' with His supernatural powers. Also, if it were a supernatural healing, it would not have taken 3 days for Hezekiah to be able to 'go up to the house of the LORD', nor would he have felt the need to ask for a 'sign' (v 8) to prove that he would indeed get well...for he would have been able to see the immediate instant result.

I don't think I am reading into the text here when I say that God directed this healing through natural means, yet He still gets the credit because it was directed by Him. We must get our directions from Him. He may direct you to natural things.

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*WHO: Job (Job 1-2:10)

*WHAT: Painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

This may surprise many who have not really studied this book for themselves. Most of us recall the famous, humble words Job uttered in response to his suffering at first, (Job 1:21) "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." We also remember in Job 2:10 how his wife tried to get him to curse God, but his Godly, proper response was, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" The text goes on to say, 'In all this, Job did not sin with his lips'.

But how often do we hear about Job's complaining, which all starts in Job 3:1 where we read, 'After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth'. Perhaps some would sugar-coat this by saying he was only crying out to God in his suffering. Please resist the temptation to do so. The truth is...Job began to be angry and blame God. How do I know this? I know this because God Himself says so. In Job 40:1 we read, 'Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it!"' God is speaking to Job, about Job. He considers Job to be 'contending with' Him and 'rebuking' Him. God also goes on to accuse Job of:
1. Annuling His judgement (40:8)
2. Condemning Him (40:8)
3. Having wrath - being angry (40:11)

*THE ENDING: Job repents (42:6). Wise choice when being questioned by the Almighty. He is healed and blessed even more than he was to begin with, before all his trials.

*WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS EXAMPLE: Suffering long term can wear on us and make us angry with God. We see that, like Job, we can start out strong, accepting our suffering in a Godly manner, but end up weakening over time and sinning in our hearts against Him. The more we know God, the more we grow in the knowledge of His great love for us, the less this temptation will ensnare us, nonetheless, it is a temptation. We must not go there! God shows amazing grace to Job by rebuking him, but not chastening him any further or bringing further calamity upon him. Grace. Pure and simple. Grace. God is very longsuffering, even when we don't deserve it. May we never presume upon this grace to an ungodly point, however.

We can also learn from this passage that sickness is not always a result of sin or a lack of faith! God Himself called Job a 'righteous' man! There are examples of sickness/suffering being a result of our own sin, so the first thing we should do is ask the Lord to 'search our hearts to see if there be any wicked way' in us, as David did, but when we have done so, and our hearts are assured by Him, then we can rest.

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 *WHO: Jacob (Genesis 32:24-32)

*WHAT: Crippled; hip out of joint.

*HIS RESPONSE TO HIS ILLNESS (INJURY): I don't see any record of Jacob's response to this. It appears he just accepted it. There is much more written about him and his life, but no mention of his crying out to the LORD, complaining, or anything else.

*THE ENDING: It is believed by many scholars and teachers that Jacob had a limp permanently, not temporarily. We read later on about his 'leaning on his staff'. We do know, at least, that it lasted longer than just that one night that he 'wrestled with the Angel of the LORD', because the next morning he limped on his hip (Gen. 32:32)

*WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS EXAMPLE: I see an example of God bringing about a physical ailment (injury). In the example of Job, God did not actually do the striking, but the 'allowing'. Here it says He is actually doing the striking. But like I said, I don't see any response from Jacob about this. Did he just accept it? Elizabeth Elliot has many times said, "In acceptance, lies peace." If God says 'NO' about an illness or injury, will we accept it?

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*WHO: Epaphroditis (Philippians 2:25-30)

*WHAT: Unknown. He was near death, (v. 27 - 'For indeed, he was sick almost unto death.) It was from overwork (v. 30), so it was some sort of illness from over exhaustion.

*HIS RESPONSE TO HIS ILLNESS: We have no real negative response shown in scripture, but rather we know that he was concerned that the Philippian church would worry about his being sick. It appears, from this text, that he was an 'others-oriented' person.

*THE ENDING: Verse 27 says that 'God had mercy upon him', which can only mean that God did not allow his sickness to end in death. We do not have a real indication that this was necessarily a miraculous (instantaneous) healing, as the text does not really say this.

*WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS EXAMPLE: Epaphroditis was an all-out worker for the Lord, but his overwork led to his sickness (v. 30). Sometimes we can become ill from not getting proper rest and overworking our bodies. We need to be careful to care for our bodies so we can continue our work for the Lord.