By Larry R. DeVore
Hospital! It is a word that brings apprehension even to the most macho individual. Until the late 19th century, those seriously ill were treated at home. It was considered a one-way trip to go to the hospital. Only the indigent and terminally ill went there. With the advent of modem drugs, surgery and aseptic techniques, hospitals became a place where you would go and recover from even critical, life-threatening illnesses.
From September 1986 to February 1987, I spent 58 days in the hospital. Being in the hospital gives a person a lot of time to think, to pray, to meditate. For a Christian, this can be time well spent, profitable from a spiritual standpoint. It is no fun to be sick. You know that and I know that. It is no fun to be hospitalized! But it can be profitable. I (re)learned some things I already knew while in the hospital. It is not my intention to recite my symptoms or show you my scars. Suffice it to say I had three major surgeries; the final one was a six and one-half hour operation to remove my stomach on February 2, 1987, at University Hospitals, in Cleveland, Ohio.
God Answers Prayers
The first lesson I (re)learned is that God does indeed answer the prayers of Christians. With some people, if God doesn’t answer their prayers immediately, and in just the way they demand it be answered, then they say, “There is no God,” or “God doesn’t love me,” or “God doesn’t care about us or answer prayer.” That is just as wrong as it can be! God does care! God does answer prayer (1 Pet. 5:6-7; Jas 5:16b).
With regard to our prayers, God may react in one of three ways. He may say “yes” (Mk. 11:24; 1 Jn. 5:14-15); he may say “no” (2 Cor. 12:7-9, Paul; Matt. 26:39, Jesus). If the apostle Paul didn’t get his prayers answered “yes,” and if the Son of God didn’t get his prayers answered “yes,” then who am I to pout or rage against God?
But God may say “wait” (Isa. 40:31; Mic. 7:7). Perhaps that is the hardest of all; we don’t like to wait for anything. We are used to instant gratification! Instant meals (McDonalds or the microwave). Instant news: radio, TV, CNN. Instant travel: just hop a jet to somewhere far away. Instant good weather: Head that jet toward Florida or California. We live in a “I want it now” society. Get your new car now! Pay later! We need to learn or relearn the lesson that the godly must wait in faith. We walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); we live by faith (Rom. 1:17). How do we get this faith? See Romans 10:17.
Fervent Prayers of Brethren Accomplish Much
James 5:16b says, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. ” God answers prayer and he hears the prayers of righteous brethren when they pray for others (1 Tim. 2:1). We can (and should) intercede before God on behalf of others. The apostle Paul always desired the prayers of brethren (see Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11).
Brethren, pray for yourself (Jas. 5:13) and pray for others. “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25). I thank God for dear brethren who prayed for me when I desperately needed their prayers! Prayer is powerful (Jas. 5:17-18)! Elijah set aside the laws of nature for three and one-half years by prayer. Our prayers can be answered by God manipulating the laws of nature to heal us of our infirmities. When you pray, pray with: (a) a pure heart (Psa. 66:18-19); (b) faith (Matt. 21:22); (c) in Jesus’ name (John 14:13); (d) according to God’s will (1 Jn. 5:14).
The Human Body Is A Marvel Of God’s Design
The Psalmist said in Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The human body with its many systems of nerves, veins, arteries, organs, etc. is a marvel of design that should leave us in awe at the wisdom and foreknowledge of God. There were days when I laid in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at $1,400 a day hooked up to monitors and machines which were designed to return me to normal, back to the way God made me originally at no charge! Medical science has spent millions of dollars on research to develop artificial hearts, kidneys, etc., that at best work only imperfectly and temporarily. We must marvel and praise God for the beauty of function and design of the human body that he created (Gen. 1:26).
There Is Much Suffering In The World
I don’t mean to imply that I am the only one who has ever suffered or had to spend extended time in a hospital. Just look around at the hospitals and nursing care facilities! I have known many faithful children of God who have suffered pain and infirmities for years on end. Many people are suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally. I don’t understand all I know about human suffering, except it is common to man, the human family. The book of Job suggests the devil is the author of sickness, disease, suffering, etc. Sickness can be caused by many factors, such as: (a) approaching death (Gen. 48: 1); (b) accident (2 Kgs. 1:2); (c) sin (Hos. 7:5; Mic. 6:13); (d) natural laws, or the consequences of them. But we know that Jesus has power over disease (Lk. 4:38-39) and sin (Matt. 9:2-6).
Jesus Died On Calvary So That We Need Not Suffer (Die) For Sin
As a child of God, I was able to face serious illness, major surgery, anything with a peace of mind that only comes from being “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3,7). Even in the face of the valley of the shadow of death (Psa. 23), I can “walk through” the valley, with Jesus. I know he will pull me through! And if he wills that I should not “pull through,” then it will still be all right (Phil. 1:21). The promises of God are great and wonderful and true. I would not want to face major surgery being outside of Christ. If you are “out” of Christ, then get “in” Christ now (Gal. 3:26-27).
We Must Have The Courage To Win!
We must have faith! We must persevere (Psa. 27:14). “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.” You can’t do it alone. When we are laid low, weak and ill, our courage falters. That happened to Elijah when’ he was under the juniper tree (1 Kgs. 19:4). He was tired and depressed. When we are ill, we need God’s help. We need our family, and our brethren. When I was hospitalized, my wife was a great source of courage (and encouragement) to me. It lifted my spirits to see her coming to visit me. It changed the bleak atmosphere of a hospital room to a little bit of “home.” My wife became a courageous woman by my suffering. Her faith in God sustained her (and by her, me) when all seemed helpless and hopeless. It is so encouraging to have faithful family members concerned for you and praying for you. There will be no tears in heaven. The pains, suffering, diseases, accidents, etc., that cause us such great hardships here will be absent from heaven. That is one more reason why I want to go there (Rev. 21:2-4). Don’t you want to go? God will take you home, away from all pain and suffering, if you do his will (Heb. 5:8-9). Do it today!
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 20, pp. 621, 623
October 20, 1988