How does God use today’s advancements to redeem our brokenness?

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As I was putting my four-year-old twins to bed the other night, we were discussing creation and how God spoke everything into existence. One of my boys started listing everything God created, “the sun, the moon, the ocean, the animals, people, cars…” Hmm. Well, cars aren’t exactly included in the creation account we find in Genesis. I found myself trying to explain that although God didn’t speak cars into existence, He did create humans with minds to invent cars. And not only cars, but he gave humans the ability to think and learn and create all the technological and medical advances that have happened since.

Of course, that’s not to discount that creation wasn’t enough for us or that God somehow messed up. It’s to say that our world has changed since then, and that first change came when sin entered the world in Genesis 3.

When God created us, he had a deep love for us and a desire to see us thrive and live out the unique purposes He designed for each of us. However, Because of that first sin, we now live in a broken and sinful world and our lives are far from the perfect Eden He initially created. We now experience pain, suffering, hard relationships, famine, war, sickness and death.

I think it is to safe say that I am not alone in having a less than perfect body. I get sick, I have allergies, I wear contacts and I require more sleep than my crazy life usually permits. If I skip a meal, I get cranky and if I miss my morning coffee, look out! But my body also struggles in other ways. I experience depression and anxiety that can be debilitating at times. I spent years resisting medical treatment because I thought that if I just prayed more, spent more time reading God’s Word, surrounded myself with Christian community, I would have enough faith and I wouldn’t feel so terrible anymore.

While intelligent doctors had diagnosed me with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, and while I continued to suffer dangerous physical ramifications of that illness, I somehow twisted my mental illness into a lack of faith in Jesus. What dangerous theology! In truth, I don’t know why God has allowed my brain to have chemical imbalances that result in such severe struggle, but I also don’t know why God has allowed others’ bodies to develop cancer or other diseases.

Please hear me when I say God did NOT give me depression or others cancer. He would never cause evil to bring about his purpose. But these things are part of living in a broken world, and I know that nothing happens apart from God’s control. Therefore, if it is a part of my life or your life, there is a reason He allowed it and he also desires to redeem it. Psalm 116:5 says, “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Which brings me back to bedtime.

God didn’t speak medication into existence just like He didn’t speak cars into existence, but He did bless us with minds that can develop remarkable things. He gave us passions and strengths that drive us to seek to improve the world around us. Some of these incredible improvements include machines that can clean water to make it safe to drink, telephones and internet that keep us connected to friends and loved ones, cars and airplanes that allow us travel, and medications that help us live healthier.

There are plenty of examples of people who can successfully manage physical or mental illness without medications, and what a great blessing that is! But for those of us who need medication to keep us healthy, God has gifted scientists and doctors with amazing abilities to develop medicines that can help us live closer to how God created us to be, despite our less-than-perfect bodies and brains. I, for one, can tell you that if I was unable to take the medication that my body needs, I would not be able to be the wife, mother, friend or employee that I desire to be. I believe that I am incredibly blessed to live in a time in history where these options are available to me and I can continue working for His kingdom and spreading His love without being debilitated by my mental illness.

Our God is gracious and loving and meets us in our suffering. Romans 5:3-5 tells us how God can redeem our suffering to shape us to be more like Him.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Our suffering points us to Jesus, the Ultimate Healer, our Great Redeemer! In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Paul describes having a thorn in his side. And while we don’t know exactly what that thorn is, we can rest assured that it caused great suffering for Paul.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

While we don’t know exactly what this thorn represents, it was some form of suffering that Paul explains was sent by Satan to torment him (v.7). While we see that Paul desperately wanted God to remove this suffering, he also understood that God permitted it to remain in his life, and rather than being disappointed in God or questioning God’s love for him, Paul recognized his suffering as something that would it to keep him humbly dependent on the Lord. My life is a testimony to God’s compassion, forgiveness and grace, and while I would not wish mental illness on anyone, I have found that it is the “thorn in my side” that reminds me of my constant reliance on Him. Each time I take my medication, I am reminded of His provision and His love and I praise Him that I can use my suffering to point myself and others to Jesus.

In His great mercy, God provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him, through the perfect sacrifice of His only son on a cross 2000 years ago. Because Jesus died, taking all of our past, present and future sins with him, and then rose again conquering death, we have hope in the knowledge that one day things will be the way they should be, the way God created them to be. But until the day that Jesus returns to make all things right, we live in the reality that nothing is perfect outside of God, especially our own earthly bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

We are those fragile, expendable jars that are prone to cracking and breaking. And when it cracks and breaks, we thank God for the resources he has provided for us now, while looking to an eternity of restoration with him.

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