Who carries disease and spreads it all around? Does God put sickness, infirmities or diseases on people to teach them a lesson? Does suffering with or for Christ involve sickness? What does the Bible say about disease and how it spreads?
When Christians suffer from sickness or infirmity, they may remember the Old Testament book of Job. That’s because Job is famous for enduring physical pain and suffering. A careful look at the book’s first two chapters shows that God allowed Job’s sufferings, but Satan, aka the devil, was the disease carrier. He dragged Job through the muck of tragedy and then some. God didn’t afflict Job with sickness, but He did remove the hedge protecting Job and his family. Job lost his business, his children, an his health. His relationship with his wife went downhill too. It seems she couldn’t stand to be around him, but it wasn’t Job’s fault. It was Satan.
Satan was definitely the bad guy. However, Job may have inadvertently played a role in helping him. For in order to catch a disease, you must have something in common with the carrier – something in the way of proximity that allows it to attach itself to you. Whatever barrier preventing it from attacking you must be removed, whether it be an immunity (enabling the body to resist the disease) or some sort of physical barrier, anything that serves to erect a distance between one’s self and the offending army of germs.
Job had become a target for Satan, the disease carrier. Did God allow Job to suffer just to see how he would handle it or had Job left a door open somewhere?
At first glance, it seemed that Job was doing his very best to guard both himself and his family from tragedy, infirmity, illness and the like. Beginning with the first chapter, that Job worried about his children, so he sacrificed for them continually, thinking “What if they cursed God in their hearts?”
Does such thinking sound like faith to you, or fear? Does it sound healthy or does it sound like disease carrier? God had commended Job as a man who served him faithfully, but did Job walk in perfect faith? His actions may have fallen under the category of “serving God,” but what about his thought life? Did he have a works-based mentality or did he trust God’s righteousness to cover him and his family? Job was worried about his children. Had fear opened a door for the enemy to enter in? Job was doing all the right things, but where was his heart? What was going on inside his mind?
“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness,” Jesus declared in Matthew 6:23. By “evil eye” he obviously doesn’t mean a person’s physical eyes. He’s referring to what a person sees with his/her eyes. Many people look at things they have no business looking at, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case with Job. The vast majority of us have physical eyes with which to see, but I believe the eye can also refer to the imagination.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
To be pure in heart is to be like God, who is of “purer eyes than to behold evil.” At first glance, that verse doesn’t make much sense, because God knows about the evil that people do. But it certainly isn’t His nature to focus on evil, at least not without punishing it. God doesn’t have an evil imagination. We see that in the book of Genesis where He called everything He had created “good.” That seems to be the way He viewed Job as well.
“Have you considered my servant Job?” God asked Satan. “… there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” Job 1:8 God spoke well of Job to the disease carrier, but what did Job say about God? It’s hard to praise God when you feel horrible, but a diseased view of God leaves you open to attack by the biggest disease carrier that ever existed.
To Job’s credit, he doesn’t curse God as Satan predicts. During his illness, however, he does curse the day he was born (see chapter 2). I’m sure that anyone who has ever had the least little pity party can relate. Job was in agony. He didn’t understand what was happening. What was God doing to him? Job complains loud and long about his sufferings to his friends. He makes many prideful statements that he later regrets. (Who among us has not done the same?) I can picture Satan the disease carrier whispering in Job’s ear as he jabs him with pain and lies to him about God.
Job definitely doesn’t understand nearly as much about God at the beginning of the book as he does at the end, where he declares, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.” (Chapter 42, verse 5).
Going back to the start of the story, we see Job worrying about his children. He is constantly sacrificing for them. He doesn’t seem to fully trust God to work in their hearts. What kind of God did he think he was serving?
“Lord, I knew thee, that thou art a hard man,” the servant told his Master in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:24). If this is our attitude toward God, then we will live in fear, not faith. I’m sure that talent looked pretty dirty and dusty, not to mention diseased (with fleas) by the time the servant dug it up. The real problem, however, lay in the servant’s sick attitude toward his Master. He was a disease carrier of sorts who feared his master like the Hebrews feared Pharaoh. That’s why, instead of using his talent for good, he hid it.
Did the Master reward him? No. I imagine that the talent hider felt sick inside when his Master took the talent from him and gave it to the ones who made good use of their talents. They were men of faith, not fear, with a healthy view of God.
Were they better than Job? No. According to Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
If Job could have been justified by works, then it seems he would have been.
“Have you considered my servant Job?” God had asked Satan. “… there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?” Job 1:8
If anyone could have made it to heaven by their works, it probably would have been Job. But if he fell under the category of “all have sinned,” then he obviously had some deeper heart issues that disqualified him.
That’s where the gospel of Jesus Christ comes in, for Jesus suffered far more than Job did. Instead of cursing the day of His birth, however, or calling his friends “miserable comforters,” Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” He showed mercy to the disease carriers whose rotten attitudes put Him on that cross. Moreover, He who had no sin (and therefore, no disease) took our sins upon Himself, in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Christians are immune to suffering. While sickness can help us understand what suffering is like, I wouldn’t call it “suffering for the Lord.” I believe sickness is part of the curse that causes death and which came upon man as a result of the fall. Sin, whether outward or inward, is what invites Satan to attack us.
But by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)