“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54

I have heard that sickness and illness are not part of God’s plan for our lives. That we were only meant to be healthy. If we’d just listen better, do better, pray more, read our Bibles more, meditate more on scripture to back up this claim, change our ways…

Here’s my take on it: sickness and illness are a fact of life. 

We live in a broken, sin-filled, messed up world. You could live the healthiest life possible and still end up with some weird illness. Or you could be killed in a car accident on your way home. There are no guarantees in this life that anything you do in your own strength will save you.

But Jesus…

I love that verse from Corinthians (which is why I added it above this post). Death is swallowed up. That analogy is so powerful when I think about how Christ literally defeated Death when He became the sin-offering for all mankind, for all time. We can’t save ourselves. We can do our best to live the way we should, but without Christ, Death is the end of the line for us.

Christ offers a guaranteed, blessed assurance of eternity and infinite grace. Perfection only exists in Heaven.

When people try to say that God doesn’t want us to be sick, I have to think back on my own story  and disagree with that statement. No, I don’t think my cancer and low immune system was God’s punishment (because I heard that too…“You know, you have to release any bitterness or resentment in your life before God can heal you…” Okay then.) or that He was angry with me. But I absolutely believe that it was the result of many factors: high stress, not taking care of myself the way I should have been, not listening to my body, allowing emotions to get out of control, not eating right, and so on. Cancer was the red light that stopped me in my tracks and forced me to make a decision about my health and wellness. To choose life, or to keep living out of balance. But it wasn’t some Divine punishment.

Instead, I think it was gift. I truly believe that it was a necessary part of my journey. In the bigger picture, having cancer was the turning point where God opened my eyes to a passion and a focus. To healing and restoration. To point out His absolute goodness and sovereignty in my life.

To glorify His name.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” – Isaiah 12:4-5

I choose to believe that something the Enemy meant for harm, God used for His glory and my good. He alone brought victory.

Whatever you are walking through today, even in the hardest parts: He is still good, sovereign, and merciful. Sometimes, His mercy is a severe mercy (like allowing us to walk through sickness and darkness) that saves us from our destruction. Sometimes, our journey isn’t really for us; it’s for others around us to see the Savior. There is beauty in tragedy, though we don’t always see it right away. It’s always in the retrospect that we are aware of the fingerprints of God in every chapter of our lives.

The next time someone tries to tell you what God’s will is for your life…look to Him before taking their opinions to heart. Listen for that still, small voice that proclaims the truth: Death has been swallowed up in victory. The only thing we can truly know about God’s will is that He calls us to be obedient, to keep trusting Him daily, and sometimes, strength to simply put one foot in front of the other.

In sickness and in health, His will be done.