As a third year medical student attached at National University Hospital, I see ill people every day. Most people would think that with this much exposure to medical knowledge and disease, one ought to have a very scientific viewpoint about sickness and pain. However, as I talk to more patients each day, I am increasingly convinced that pain and illness has not only a physical, but also a mental, and even spiritual origin. Just as how we are to love our Lord with all our strength and all our minds and all our souls, I believe illness and pain, too, are entrenched in our mental and spiritual faculties.
One day at church, as I listened to Pastor Margaret Seaward give her testimony on how God healed her chronic arthritic wrist right after she had confessed her sin of unforgiveness toward her husband, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly into my spirit and revealed to me the answer to my burning question.
For months, I had suffered from a sharp pain on the sole on my left foot, and a pain in my chest which seemed to be radiating from my heart. As I love to do sports, these pains caused me deep distress and frustration. Those few months also happened to be the same period that the Lord had chosen to take away many of the worldly things I used to put my self-worth in, and so it was a very trying time for me. Seeing a podiatrist did not help, as even after medical consultation and rest, my foot did not heal. The doctors also could not find anything wrong with my heart and so could not prescribe any medication. I asked Him – “Why, Lord, why?” I began to suspect the Lord had a deeper message for me. Little did I realise that the Holy Spirit was teaching me about finding my rest and security in God.
That Sunday afternoon after listening to Pastor Seaward’s sermon, I went home and asked the Lord to reveal to me the areas of unforgiveness in my life. As the Holy Spirit revealed them to me, I realised, on reflection, that in the past, each time I was stressed or frustrated, I would put on my running shoes and head out for a run instead of bringing my feelings of anger, unforgiveness or anxiety to the Lord. As a loving Father, He thus chose to use this pain to take away what I had put my trust in, running, so I could refocus my eyes on Him. Running, in some way, had become an idol in itself for me.
That week ahead, I prayed every day for the Lord to reveal more and more areas of my life which were not aligned to His Spirit. As the Lord spoke to me through the story of Jesus and His forgiveness toward the sinful woman, I wept before the Lord and asked Him for forgiveness, the strength to forgive others and the complete healing of my body. The more I released to Him, the more I felt His pleasure with me. Yet, the pain lingered. On the sixth day, however, I was surprised to wake up to find the pain completely gone! I hopped on my left foot in amazement. That evening, I went for a slow run, not out of vexation, but out of sheer joy and disbelief. Since then, each time I go for a run, I make sure it is because of a desire to stay fit, and not out of frustration. On the days which I still harbour rebellion, however, I notice that the pain returns. I am now convinced at how closely linked the natural is to the spiritual.
As I began to discover the wonders of our Father’s character, and the lessons from His heart, I also realized that the chest pains became more and more infrequent, and eventually disappeared altogether.
As the weeks go by, the Lord has taught me to bring my worries and feelings to Him, and not to an idol. The more I release to Him, the more healing He blesses me with, and I know that as I align my heart with His, complete restoration is as much His desire as it is mine. Indeed, I am thankful to the Lord for His loving discipline and grace toward me.
by Tan Wai Jia