When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. Revelation 6:9-11
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. 1The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11: 17-18
do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity Proverbs 3:1-2
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8
Proverbs reveals more promises for life and health, conditional on heeding God’s word and wisdom.
All of these point to God’s will for His people – clearly He wants us healthy and alive because He wants us to be obedient and free from evil influences. Note the conditions:
Remember and keep His word
Don’t think of ourselves too highly
These are not isolated cases linking obedience and keeping God’s word with an outcome of health and life. There are many examples, including the previously noted Deuteronomy 30, ‘now choose life’; and Psalm 119 repeats eleven times the phrase ‘preserve my life according to Your word’ (or variations).
The chapter in Proverbs following the two quotes above also promises:
turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Proverbs 4:20-22
Again there is an important linking of relationship with God’s word with our life and health; and in a way that unambiguously shows God’s will regarding the health of His people. Value and heed His word, and life and health are the result.
I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Psalm 118: 17-18
I think this was the first scriptural ‘declaration’ that stood out as a promise I could hold onto not long after being diagnosed. Since then I have come across several healing testimonies where others also found inspiration and hope with the first part of this quote.
The second part also seemed relevant to my situation, in which the diagnosis was like a ‘chastening’ to wake me up from the compromise and complacency I was drifting into.
These verses also declare a purpose for life: to ‘proclaim what the LORD has done’. Life is not given to be spent on our own pleasures.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years… Deuteronomy 30:19-20
This reveals that God’s will for His people is life. Death is linked to curses and evil (also see Deut 30:15)
He commands the choice of life, and calls the heavens and earth as His witnesses, so no one can legitimately blame Him for any other outcome. we might experience.
The choice is conditional on obedience: to the Law under the old covenant, and by faith under the new.
The Good: November 20th was the anniversary of being given a death sentence by the medical profession. That sparked the most spiritually productive year of my Christian life. I documented my first few months of personal, spiritual discovery elsewhere on this blog. During this year I’ve probably read more scripture and prayed more consistently than I’d done in the whole of the previous decade.
The Sad: November 21st my dad died. He’d been in a nursing home for about six weeks after spending the previous two months in hospital waiting for a nursing home placement.
Around 14 years ago a heart specialist gave him only 6-9 months to live. While he had a few bad days during those 14 years, he was mostly quite well, although limited in mobility. Then this year he lost his sight, became depressed and contracted pneumonia twice. The second case led to his permanent departure from home. In hospital he dropped 20kgs in a few weeks and lost muscle mass, making him completely dependent and unable to return home.
On Saturday at 5.30am, attended by my mum and sister, he stopped breathing. He was 87 and just a few months short of my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary.
He was always resistant to the gospel, but I continued to pray for him. A few months ago he was ‘visited’, in a dream or in his mind, by a man who said “people think I’m dead, but I’m really alive”. My mum asked who it was and my dad didn’t know. His ‘visitor’ came back later, my dad asked his name and got the reply “Jesus Christ”.
For most of the past months he lived in a world of dreams and darkness (due to his blindness) within his own mind and thoughts. I trust the Lord continued to visit, but ultimately what dad did in response to those visits will remain a mystery until I eventually go to be with Him myself.
Because of distance, covid restrictions and chemo, I hadn’t been able to see him for almost a year.