Ask Your Preacher
I am sick with allergies (environmental and food), bronchitis, and stomach issues that include GERD and IBS. I have also found out that I have chronic ear disease with a hole in one eardrum. I have all sorts of little things going on. My question is: is it something I have done? I want to fix it whatever it is, but I first need to know what it is that I have done. How do I find out if it is my fault?
Sick Of Being Sick
Dear Sick Of Being Sick,
You might be hurting for living unfaithfully… but that is only one of several reasons why people suffer. Here are the two other reasons why people suffer:
- Sometimes bad things simply happen because they happen. Job suffered greatly, and his children died, but it wasn’t his (or their) fault. Job hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had his kids. It all happened because Satan wanted to do evil (Job 1:6). As long as we live in this world of sin, there will be troubles. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone at fault… just time and chance wreaking havoc in a sinful world (Eccl 9:11).
- Sometimes people suffer so that God can be glorified. Jesus’ disciples asked Him why a certain man had been born blind, and Jesus answered, “So that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (Jhn 9:1-3) This man’s ailment provided an opportunity for God to show His glory. There are times that we suffer, so God can teach us and teach others through our pain (Eccl 7:2-3).
You are doing the right thing by examining your life and making sure that you are right with God. If you would like to have Bible classes or need a congregation, we can help you find a faithful one near you (our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org), but unfaithfulness isn’t the only cause of suffering.
Is it okay for Christians to meditate? If you pray to relieve stress but also want to just take a few minutes a day to picture a nice scenery or something to bring zen, is that okay?
Mind Over Matter
Dear Mind Over Matter,
God wants us to dwell upon positive things (Php 4:8). There is nothing wrong with meditating on the good and beautiful of this life. Ps 77:12 talks about dwelling upon God’s creation and His handiwork as a positive thing. Meditation isn’t a replacement for prayer – but it can be pleasant.
I have confessed to God, asked Him to come into my life and change me according to His will. I have acknowledged my belief in Jesus' dying on the cross and also His blood cleansing/washing away my sins as well as Him being crucified on the cross and being resurrected on the third day. But why don't I feel different?
It is impossible to say why you (or anyone else) feel a certain way. Emotions are fickle and can be deceiving. Some people feel that they are saved when, in fact, they are lost (Matt 7:21-23), but whether our heart condemns us or not isn’t what saves us (1 Jn 3:19-21). It is our adherence to God’s Word that saves us (Rom 1:16). If you are doing what God says you must do to be saved, then you can have confidence regardless of how you feel (see “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” for further details). Serving God is often an issue of doing what is right without regard to our emotions… showing bravery when we are afraid, working when we are tired, praying when we feel we aren’t heard, and persevering when we are discouraged. One of Satan’s greatest tools to destroy us is that we often don’t feel as we ought, and sin has a way of numbing us to the truth of God’s Word (Heb 3:13).
[This question is in response to “Waiting Around”]
Can you explain exactly what "our spirit" is (as you previously answered another inquirer regarding the spirit of a Christian separating from the body and going to Paradise). Is the spirit our conscience?
Dear Jiminy Cricket,
Your spirit is who you really are. We are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27) – it is our spirit that is crafted in His image, not our bodies. Jhn 4:24 says that God is spiritual, not physical. God existed long before the physical world ever did (Gen 1:1). Our spirits are fashioned after our Heavenly Father, and long after our bodies decay, our spirits will live on.
Your spirit is that part of you that truly is you. It is more than your conscience; it is your soul – your very essence. Your body is just a vessel to contain your spirit until the day you go to meet your God (Jas 2:26).
I made a horrible decision when I was eighteen. I had an abortion even though I knew with every bit of my being that it was wrong. I was weak, and I made a decision that has sickened me ever since. The Bible says God will forgive anything if you are truly remorseful, and I am saved and have been baptized, but I struggle with the notion that I do not, and probably will never, feel like I am truly forgiven. Maybe it's the fact that I am so horrified by what I did that I know I deserve hell. I'm assuming I will feel that way for the rest of my life and rightfully so. I'm scared of God's wrath and of hell's fire so much that I have an irrational fear of dying and facing God only to be turned away. I don't want to seem like I have no faith in God's boundless mercy, but can I ever forgive myself? Should I even forgive myself? I just would like your opinion; I am too close to my preacher to bring it up; I'm so ashamed. Thank you.
What you are asking is one of the most difficult things in life – forgiving yourself. Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people hold on to the guilt and shame of sin far too keenly – you are not alone in this struggle. God tells us that there are several things to remember:
- Even if your heart condemns you, God keeps His promises. On the Judgment Day, we will be judged by God’s standards, not whether or not we feel worthy (1 Jn 3:20).
- We can reassure our own hearts that we have been forgiven when we study and live by the truth of the Bible (1 Jn 3:18-20). The more we immerse ourselves in God’s teachings, the quicker we begin to realize that forgiveness isn’t about being worthy… but about having faith in the mercy of God.
- Another way to look at your problem is to remember that saying, “I can’t believe God will forgive me” is the same as saying, “I don’t believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough”. That may sound harsh, but our forgiveness is based upon Jesus’ blood (Col 2:14). It is an act of faith in Jesus to accept our own forgiveness.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time… just like all areas of growth.