WHY does GOD allow SICKNESS & SUFFERINGS in our LIVES? "Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day; the father shall make known Your truth to the children." (Isaiah 38:17-19)
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz who became the 13th king of Judah. He was one of the most prominent kings of Judah who was mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 1:9-10). He began his 29-year reign at the tender age of 25, and was zealous for God more than any of his predecessors (other than King David). However, he became seriously ill even to the point of death. God had a definite purpose in allowing this sickness to come into Hezekiah’s life and that He was in control of these events. Through His prophet Isaiah, God informed Hezekiah that he would die and must set his house in order. This simply means that he must prepare a progeny to take over the throne of Judah after his death!
However, Hezekiah earnestly prayed for lengthened life so that he could continue to lead the nation back to God, and God granted him total healing and fifteen more years to live. God’s promise of healing and extended life brought joyful relief to the king, and his spirit was totally revived. To celebrate his recovery, Hezekiah wrote a song of deliverance that is not mentioned in the historical section of 2nd Kings.
This song initially described his sadness when he heard that he was going to die in the prime of his life without experiencing the goodness of God. He pictured his death as going through a gate (v. 10), taking down a tent (v. 12), being cut from a loom and rolled up (v. 12), and being attacked by a beast (v. 13). But he clung to the Word of God (v. 17) and gave praise to God for His healing (vv. 16–20). Only the living can praise God, and Hezekiah vowed to “sing with stringed instruments” (v. 20).
In the above referenced passage (vv. 17-19), Hezekiah reflects on his affliction and gives us six insights regarding why God allows sickness and suffering in our lives:
- To draw us closer to God: When Hezekiah heard the terrible news, he “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord" (v. 2). The psalmist declares that it is good for us to draw closer to God and put our trust in Him (Ps. 73:28). When we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8), which is clearly what God desires.
- To deliver us from death and destruction: Hezekiah declares that God has “lovingly delivered his soul from the pit of corruption” (v. 17). It is possible that our lives of relative ease and pleasure will turn us away from God, and that may ultimately lead us to death and destruction (see Deut. 8:19-20).
- To enable God to forgive our sins: Hezekiah boldly announces to God: “You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (v. 17). God not only forgives our sins that we confess (1 John 1:9), but He separates us from those sins (Ps. 103:12), so much so that He throws our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
- To receive ‘real’ peace from God: Hezekiah discerns that "indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness” (v. 17). When troubles invade our lives, instead of being anxious about them we should present them to God (Phil. 4:6), and the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).
- To give us a reason to praise God profusely: Through this incident, Hezekiah declares the following to God: “For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You” (vv. 17-18). Hezekiah responded to God’s acts of salvation in this life with praise to God which is the fruit of his lips (Heb. 13:15). Praise is offered only in the land of the living and he is determined to praise Jehovah all the days of his life.
- Finally, for us to declare God’s deliverance to our children: Hezekiah is determined to share his wonderful experience to his own children as he declares the following to God: “the father shall make known Your truth to the children” (v. 18). We too must share our stories of God’s acts of redemption and deliverance in our lives with our children (see Exodus 12:25–27).