“The Coronavirus only affects those who are elderly or already weakened.”
I have heard this statement several times in the past week. Those speaking it intend to speak words of comfort. But it doesn’t really work for me.
I have an autoimmune disease which makes me extra susceptible to viruses and more difficult for my body to fight them off. I’m one of those “already weakened” people who need to take extra precautions.
I don’t like this fact. I don’t want to be extra prone to sickness, and extra prone to making everyone else around me sick. The temptation to fear is present, but more than that I am tempted to feel ashamed. Why?
The Affect of Lies
Back in mid-November I was undergoing several medical tests. One of these was a hormone test conducted via a saliva test. I complained to my roommate about how weird it was. I didn’t want anyone to see it and think that I had a contagious disease. Finally– when she could endure it no longer –she burst out, “Sarah, you need to stop thinking that it is weird that you are sick. A lot of people have health problems and need to get medical tests done.”
The Lord used those words to pinpoint a lie that I was believing. I believed that it was my fault that I was sick– that me being sick was a result of sin or lack of faith. This resulted in shame. It was hard for me to let others know about my sickness because I viewed it as a condemnation on me.
It popped up again when I needed to begin eating a restricted diet. My mind was filled with fears about what people would think– would they be offended, or think I’m picky? The Lord patiently revealed that I was once again believing a lie.
And now the Coronavirus. I don’t fear for myself, but I do fear that I could catch it and pass it on to all the people I am in contact with constantly. When several friends said, without thinking, that the Coronavirus wasn’t that big of a deal because it’s only “taking out the elderly or already weakened” I felt shame again. That’s me. I am the problem. Once again the Lord put His finger on my thinking.
The Father of Lies
You see– though I recognized I was believing a lie back in November, I did not intentionally replace it with Truth. As a result, it has continued to plague me.
Repeating, “It is not my fault that I am sick,” to myself is not enough. I need something stronger, something outside of myself. Men’s words, however well intentioned, are not eternal. They are not unchanging. They are not living and powerful. God’s Word is.
I have been walking through a season of intense spiritual attack. This, coupled with my health issues, has resulted in a lot of lies being spoken into my heart. Satan is, after all, the father of lies. There is no Truth in him. (John 8:44)
While the enemy’s attacks are not good things, they have served a good purpose: me learning to replace lies with Truth.
Replacing Lies with Truth
One afternoon I spent several hours with the Lord asking Him to reveal the root lies about His character that were causing the lies about myself (like my sickness is my fault). Once He did, I wrote out lists of specific Scriptures that address those lies.
Now when I am praying, I grab the lists and pray through the Word of God. In this way I am aligning my thinking with Truth. I am being strategic with my prayers rather than firing them off every which way.
I also have a list prepared to turn to when my emotions are out of control, or I am discouraged. That’s when I choose to meditate on the Truth.
The Truth About Sickness
So is sickness a result of sin?
As a means of demonstrating what replacing lies with Truth looks like in my life I want to share the specific Scriptures I am praying, meditating upon, and reckoning my own.
My sickness is my fault. It is the result of a lack of faith or a punishment for sin. Therefore, my need for a restricted diet and to take extra precautions against the Coronavirus are also my fault and a result of my sin or lack of faith.
This is the surface level lie I was believing. However, at its root is a lie about the character of God.
The way God treats me is dependent upon my works.
What is the Truth?
- Jesus has forgiven all of my trespasses and cancelled the record of debt against me with its legal demands, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
- I have been reconciled to God– restored to His friendship and favor. (Colossians 1:22)
- He’s reconciled me to Himself to present me holy, blameless, and above reproach before Him. (Colossians 1:22)
- I have been justified by the blood of Jesus– declared just and righteous as I ought to be. (Romans 5:9)
- Through Jesus I have received atonement– God’s favor has been restored to me. (Romans 5:11)
- Jesus is my propitiation– God’s wrath for my sin was fully satisfied in Christ. (Romans 3:23-25)
- Jesus restored peace between me and God. I am no longer His enemy. (Colossians 1:20)
- I am His child. He’s given me the Spirit of adoption by which I can cry out “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
- God uses sickness. Paul preached the Gospel to the Galatians because of a bodily ailment. (Galatians 4:13)
- Jesus redeemed me from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for me. He took the punishment for my sin. (Galatians 3:13)
- He knows my frame and remembers that I am dust. (Psalm 103:14)
- He does not deal with us according to our sins or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)
- The Lord is merciful and gracious. (Psalm 103:8)
- I have been made alive with Christ so that He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness towards me in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7) Grace is unmerited favor– I do nothing to earn it.
- He apportions to each a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) It isn’t something I produce.
- He allows afflictions, even those which cause us to be “utterly burdened beyond our strength” so that we “despair of life,” so that we will not rely upon ourselves. (2 Corinthians 1)
- We always carry about in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10-12)
- We are afflicted for the benefit of others. (2 Corinthians 1; 4:12; Colossians 1:24)
- Afflictions are good if they cause to learn to love the Word of God and Jesus more. (Psalm 119:71)
If we are in Christ, that is how God sees us. He doesn’t deal with us on the basis of our sin, but rather Christ’s righteousness!
The Story of Job
The story of Job in the Old Testament illustrates this as well. In the beginning of the story, as Job loses his children and his livelihood, his response is correct. He worships the Lord and receives more evil. At the end of the book we see the opposite– Job is self righteous and he complains against God, yet the Lord gives back more that what He took away.
Jobs’s treatment was not based upon his actions– whether for good or evil. The Christian life is not a Christian form of karma. The Lord’s plans and purposes often include difficult things but they are not a sign of His displeasure, even when, like Job we don’t understand the purpose.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.Psalm 103:8-13 ESV
Maybe I will make this a series on replacing lies with Truth. I am realizing more and more how necessary it is for me to do so. As Tozer said:
A right conception of God is basic not only to theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.A.W. Tozer