“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.” Psalm 119:65–72

By the wonders of medical advancements and with the aid of the multitude of healthy living experts, we have grown accustomed to thinking that good health is our right. With so many espousing all sorts of newly-minted “rights” we have allowed ourselves to be fooled and lulled into a rosy expectation concerning life and the stewardship of our days on this earth.

Biblically speaking, we only have the rights that God gave us. It is the good fortune of American Christians that our founding documents bow to the concept of natural rights by listing just three of them: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (or what our founders would recognize to mean Property). There are more, but they all arise from the fact that mankind is created in the image of God. Independent action, self-defense, freedom of thought, of conscience, and of association are a few of the natural rights we all receive from God. I doubt that our founders ever conceived of the idea that in this fallen world we retain a natural right to being healthy, let alone receive free health care or free education, free wages, or free immigration. Surely, none of these freebies rise to the sublime levels of our founders vision! Being created in the image of God sanctifies human life and bestows all the freedoms of individual soul liberty.

Where the wishful thinking of our day struggles with reality is in coming to grips with man’s fallen condition. The natural human condition has been reduced to a state of depravity because of sin. I do not mean we are all equally as bad as we possibly can be, but that all of us have been tainted by sin. Our fallen state is the reason why there are so many inequalities between nations, between neighborhoods, and between people. The only real equality in this world is the fact that all are sinners, lost, and justly deserve to spend eternity in Hell. We equally have the natural rights listed earlier, but most governments on this earth have made laws designed to shackle those rights and therefore not all people get to express or experience God’s natural rights to mankind. It is one of the great evils of socialism. In a just world everyone would have equal access to the Gospel for the saving of their eternal souls. But there are great swaths of the earth where politics or religion forbid that freedom.

Because of our fallen state, our physical health means quite a lot. An old saying goes, “if you have your health, you have everything.” We can easily fall into the danger of making our health our idol. We can also fall prey to linking our health, or lack thereof, to whether God is pleased with us or not.

One of the chief proofs of the messiahship of Jesus Christ was His demonstration that He is Lord over all, including our sicknesses. He went about healing and doing miracles (Luke 7:22), decisively proving He is who He said He is. He is just as capable today as He was back then to heal you and me of anything that ails us. But He does not often chose to do so, at least not immediately. We know He will bring us forth from the grave at the Rapture of the Church, but more times than not He will not heal us as an immediate answer to prayer. There must, therefore, be a reason for our suffering when it fulfills His will to wait on rescuing us.

We all know the story of Job. We know the backstory to the grievous time he had. We know that he was never told why the calamities befell him. But we know the bigger picture and we also know the lesson that God had to teach him. We learn from Job’s story how sovereign, generous, and just God is.

Paul went through a time in his life when his body was letting him down. In 2 Corinthians 12:7ff we read, “…a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Instead of relieving Paul of his sickness, God promised him a steady, sufficient supply of grace to endure. One lesson Paul learned was that God’s strength would shine brightly through Paul’s weakness. Another lesson was for the personal benefit of Paul, God had things to teach him about humility.

David’s words seem to underscore a similar purpose for our own times of suffering. The theme of Psalm 119:65–72 is the truth that God’s grace, whether in blessing or in calamity, draws us to the Word of God. David reminds us that there is always a benefit God intends for your soul when He guides you through the valley of suffering (Hebrews 12:4–11). David says the ordeal of affliction is good because through enduring affliction we are able to glean spiritual growth in Him. Grasp after soul health, not just physical health. Trust and obey.