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One instance from the Bible that comes readily to mind is from John 11, when (as indicated in John 11:6) Jesus purposely delayed after being notified that Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus was ill, allowing Lazarus to die before going to them. As He Himself subsequently explained in John 11:15, He did this for the greater good (in terms of leading people to believe in Him) that He knew would result when He would subsequently raise Lazarus from the dead. Although other instances of God's use of illness might not be so pronounced or dramatic, earthly infirmities should always make people conscious of the brevity and uncertainty of this temporal life, and lead them to look to faith in Christ (who fully and eternally defeated death on behalf of all who would believe in Him) for life that will last forever, which far outweighs anything that earth can offer.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10: 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. Paul asked God 3 times to heal his "thorn in the flesh", but God reminded Paul that God's grace was sufficient. Sickness and disease would be a result of living in this present evil world, but God's will promises us deliverance from it through Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:4). Paul said that he takes pleasure in his infirmities as he strengthened by his weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:10). Those living with physically debilitating conditions can offer great inspiration to all by their showing of spiritual strength in having faith alone. We are certainly not being punished by God today during His dispensation of grace (1 Thes. 5:9).
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