God's will is to heal. His desire is for good to come to us. But His ultimate purpose is to bring us closer to Him. The Lord sometimes uses affliction and infirmity as tools to refine His servants. He seeks to build character in us.

Not all sickness and infirmity is intended by God to produce character - much of it accomplishes nothing but destruction. At times, however, God gives Satan permission to touch us (Job is an example) and He will not bring an immediate solution because He intends for Christ to produce something deep in our hearts.

God uses infirmity to:

  • Correct disobedience. He does not discipline you simply to punish you for wrong behavior, but rather to restore you to right behavior. Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I keep Your word (Ps. 119:67). God's discipline is always for the good. It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I may learn Your statutes (Ps. 119:71). When affliction strikes, it's wise to let your first response be one of broken repentance. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any way in which your life may be out of order.

  • Produce greater knowledge of Christ. Affliction naturally produces desperation. If you allow your desperation to push you into Christ, you will come to know Him in a profoundly new and intimate way. Even Jesus sought to be closer to the Father. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly (Luke 22:14).

  • Develop greater spiritual maturity. Calamity can become a catalyst for accelerated spiritual growth. The vital ingredient for turning affliction into maturity is perseverance. We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Rom. 5:3-4).

  • Remove judgmentalism. God wants you to have empathy and compassion for those who are suffering. When you suffer you understand in unfathomable ways with other hurting people in the world. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

  • Restores real Christianity. Where there is great persecution people turn from being merely believers to becoming disciples. When you suffer financial, physical, or family distress it can rekindle your zeal for the Lord. Jesus said to the believers in Laodicea, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Rev. 3:16).

  • Reveal His glory. When the disciples asked Jesus why a certain man was born blind He responded that the works of God should be revealed in Him (John 9:3). Then Jesus proceeded to reveal His glory by healing the man.

  • Accomplish His plan. Chances are that some of you reading this are experiencing great affliction. If that's you, take heart; God will complete the work He is doing in You. Be confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). His purposes shall be accomplished.

From "Why Do Bad Things Happen to God's People?" adapted from The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, copyright (c) 1996, used by permission. Bob's latest book is entitled, Pain, Perplexity and Promotion: A prophetic interpretation of the book of Job. To place an order call 816-623-9050."Why Do Bad Things Happen to God's People?" is from Spirit Led Woman, published by Strang Communications, June/July 1999, copyright (c) 1999. Subscription rate is \$14.95 for six issues. Canadian subscribers add \$4.50 per year, foreign subscribers \$10 per year. Send subscription requests to Spirit Led Woman, P.O. Box 420805, Palm Coast, FL 32142 or to order by phone call 1-800-829-9133 or 904-445-9920.

Bob Sorge is a teacher and author of several books, including Exploring Worship, In His Face, and The Fire of God's Love. Bob and his wife, Marci, live in Kansas City, Mo., with their three children.