Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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All of our bad and hostile environments expose our true condition. These environments will not bring out sins that we do not have. They will only expose the true conditions within us. Sickness is one of these environments, and it makes us understand our own true condition.

We never know how much we live for God and how much we live for self. When we become sick, especially during a long illness, we find this out. At other times, we can say that we are totally willing to obey God and that we are satisfied no matter how God treats us. However, when we become sick, we find out whether or not our previous words were true. What God wants to accomplish among His children is that they would consider His will as their satisfaction and take His ordained will as their enjoyment. God does not want them to murmur against His will—especially His arrangement—on account of their own feelings. He occasionally allows sicknesses to come upon His beloved children in order to see their attitude toward His ordained will.

It is most unfortunate when a believer who is under God’s trial complains because of his own desires and questions why he has fallen into such a state. He does not consider what God has given him as the best. (When we say God gives sicknesses, we mean that God allows them to come upon us. Satan is the one who causes sickness directly. But the sickness comes to us through God’s permission, and it comes with a purpose. The experience of Job is the best example.) His heart is filled with many hopes for an early recovery. Hence, God has to prolong the period of sickness on his body because He will not remove His means until His goal is accomplished. God’s goal in communicating with the believers is for them to obey Him unconditionally, so that no matter how He treats them, they would obey willingly. God is not pleased when He sees a believer praising Him during favorable times but murmuring against Him, doubting Him, or misunderstanding His works during troubled times. God wants a believer to obey Him to the extent that he will not resist even if he is to be put to death.

God wants His children to realize that everything that befalls them is given by Him. Regardless of how precarious the conditions of the body and environment are, they are all measured by His hands. Everything that has to do with them is under His will; even the falling of a strand of hair is no exception. If a believer resists the things that come upon him, he inevitably resists the God who permits such things to come upon him. If he becomes bitter through the suffering of his illness, he will inevitably resist the God who permits such illness to come upon him. It is not a question of whether or not a believer should become sick, but whether he should resist God. God wants a believer to forget his sickness while he is sick and simply look to Him. If the Lord wants you to be sick this way and continue to be sick in the future, are you willing to take it or not? Can you obey His almighty hand and not resist? Will you crave for health outside of His present will during your suffering? Can you obey until He has accomplished all that He wants to accomplish and only then ask for healing according to His will? When you are disciplined, will you refrain from seeking after healing apart from Him? At times of extreme suffering, will you try unwittingly to have what He will not give you? All these questions should deeply pierce the heart of every sick believer.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 40, by Watchman Nee)