2 Chronicles 16: 12b Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.
One of the realities of the life of an athlete is injuries and this often begins at a very young age. Stopsportsinjuries.org reports that in the United States “high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year”. And this continues as athletes get older. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professional athletes were among five occupations that had more than 1,000 injuries per 10,000 workers. Athletes and sports competitors suffer more than 2,000 injuries per 10,000 workers.
Christian athletes are not immune to injuries. God doesn’t choose to wrap them in a special bubble wrapping, some sort of unfair advantage over their competitors. Injuries and sickness are an unfortunate reality for all athletes. The key question, however, is how do you deal with your injuries and sickness as a believer?
The story of King Asa, found in 2 Chronicles 14-16 is an interesting one for me. His reign seemed to start well as we read that “Asa did what was good in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chron 14:2). When the Cushite army threatened his people he cried out to the Lord beseeching Him: “Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you…” (2 Chron 14:11b) and God answered Asa’s prayers striking down his foes.
But something seemed to go awry in Asa’s life. In chapters 15 and 16 we read that God sent prophets to Asa to try to convict him of his sin, but it appeared that his heart had grown increasingly cold in his later years. This is the context of today’s key verse: Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. (2 Chron 16:12b). This scripture does not seem to chastise Asa for seeking help from the physicians but rather that he did not seek help from the Lord. God had come through for Asa and all the people of Judah when Asa had turned to God, so why did he now fail to turn to God in his sickness?
My personal conviction is that God can allow sickness and injury into our lives and use that for his greater good. This can include being a witness to others in our suffering, it can be helpful to increase our perseverance, or it can even be used to change the direction of our lives to follow His will for us. However, I also believe in an all-powerful God who can heal, has healed and does still miraculously heal today. After all, it is God who first miraculously created us so who better to turn to in our sickness and injury. Why would we not first ask God for healing?
God can and does use physicians for our healing, but we should never make the mistake that Asa made, which was only turning to doctors for help. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6) Pray with faith; you serve a powerful Saviour.