Those who endure seasons of suffering understand the painful process of waiting on God to heal.
Sometimes the delays, combined with the silence, are excruciating. God chooses to prolong our suffering. Whether you're recovering from an illness or waiting on an emotional wound to disappear, He'll appreciate the biblical wisdom ahead.
Chuck titled his message, When the Spirit Brings a Slow Recovery. Healing is a matter of time, wrote the renowned Greek physician Hippocrates. And the deeper the wound, physically or emotionally, the greater the amount of time we need to heal.
In light of our instant everything world, that may not sound very encouraging, but it is more often than not true. Throughout my years in ministry I've had a great deal of contact with people who hurt. Other ministers, it seems, enjoy the role of leading people into rather rapid relief of their pain, whatever that pain may be.
Admittedly, I could easily envy such a joyful and popular ministry. More often than not, it seems my lot to help those who don't heal in a hurry, no matter how hard they try, no matter how firmly they believe, no matter how sincerely they may pray. Though it isn't nearly as exciting as a miraculous healing, there are times when the Spirit brings what I would call a slow recovery. Such a time of convalescence came at a crucial hour in the apostle Paul's life. On his way to face trial in Rome, Paul's ship was caught in a violent storm. For days everyone on board that ship went without food or rest in what seemed like a hopeless situation. Finally, the battered ship struck a reef, spilling its cargo of exhausted passengers into the frothing surf of a Mediterranean island.
Though they littered the beach like so much human debris, all 276 people made it to the shore alive. That storm, however, had taken a tremendous physical and emotional toll on everyone. They were going to need time to heal.
They were going to need lots of it. Let's join Dr. Luke in Acts 28 as he describes that unique period of recovery. Acts 28 verses 1-10. When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary kindness, for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.
However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. After they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. Now, in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously.
Three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed, afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery. And Paul went in to see him, and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. They also honored us with many marks of respect, and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.
And now the message from Chuck titled, When the Spirit Brings a Slow Recovery. Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician. In fact, he's perhaps the best known of all men in medicine in all of time. For it was his Hippocratic oath, or the physician's oath, that is to this day still taken by men and women who enter the medical profession.
It is, as it were, a declaration of their allegiance to the high principles of their practice. But Hippocrates wrote more than just an oath. As a matter of fact, he wrote a piece entitled, Aphorisms, in which is written, Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases. A little later in the first chapter of a work entitled, simply, Precepts, he wrote, Healing is a matter of time. Brilliant man, who wrote in the era of brilliant people. Socrates, Plato, Dionysius, and young Aristotle were all contemporaries of Hippocrates. And to the surprise of many, his works sound a great deal like Solomon's Proverbs.
One wonders, why? Where did he get wisdom like that? If you put those two thoughts together, even though they're written at different times, you come up with a statement that sounds something like, recovering from extreme difficulties sometimes takes an extreme amount of time. When did he live?
Maybe that'll help us. He lived between 450 and 375 B.C. If you put that into biblical times, you know that he lived during the between the testament era. Between Malachi and Matthew. What is significant is that during that period of time, no scripture was written.
It's called 400 years of silence. But a lot of scripture is being compiled by men like Ezra, the scribe, and others who worked hard on that difficult process. Could it be, and perhaps it is only fertile imagination on my part, that the writings of Hippocrates were in some way impacted by the writings of Solomon? I would wonder if perhaps the scroll of Ecclesiastes happened upon his attention in his vast research. And in the process of time, he discovered something that God had led the wise man of old, the son of David, to write. If you have your Bible with you, look at Ecclesiastes chapter 3. When Hippocrates says healing takes time, it sounds an awfully lot like what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3. There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every event under heaven. And then in your Bible you'll see a whole list of times.
Just take the next couple of verses with me. A time to give birth, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
What intrigues me is the first part of the third verse. A time to heal. Healing is a matter of time, wrote Hippocrates.
That's not only good medicine, that's good theology. Four centuries after Hippocrates passed on, there came on the scene another man who followed in his train. Not a Jew, but a Gentile. The only Gentile who wrote anything in the New Testament. Not a minister as we would think of it today, not even a priest or a scribe, but a medical doctor. His name was Luke.
His mentors were men who had learned their trade from the writings of Hippocrates. Some of which are extant to this very day, and remain true. And I wonder if in the writing of the book of Acts, that explains the reason Luke spends so much time on a few verses that you and I, Americans, always in a hurry, would have certainly passed over rapidly. These ten verses give time for healing. The first ten verses of Acts 28, therefore, are not passed off hurriedly by a physician, but time is spent because when there have been extreme difficulties, there often must be extreme times of remedy provided. We don't have any room for that in our theology, even though it's biblical.
We want people to get with it. If you have spent much time trying to recover from an ailment that cannot be explained by an x-ray, if you have been in the dregs of depression, if you have hurt, grieved greatly over the loss of a loved one, and you can't seem to get out, you have heard the words before long from someone, snap out of it, or get with it. But I want to suggest to you that to this physician who knew a lot about theology, healing takes time. I would therefore like to dedicate these words in this message to you that are healing. And perhaps it is the best kept secret in the family of God.
You don't feel a lot like being in the mainstream, you can't explain why it's taking so long, you can't seem to get over it, the counsel you have gotten is like bromides from cliche world, and you don't need more verses, you just need time. I want you to know that you're in good company. So do a lot of other people sitting around you. Their hurts are varied, their hurts are many, we have a large representation of people. The only one thing that draws us together is we're all sinners, rotten sinners.
We just get dressed up and don't look like it. Some of you have come out of alcoholism and some out of drugs or you're trying to. Some have come out of a life of immorality, some of you have come out of a divorce or two or three. Some of you have made a royal mess of your business, you have mishandled finances, some of you have prison records, some of you have been homosexuals, some of you are recovering, doing your best to get out of a deep depression, and you cannot seem to get a handle on it, and you don't know why it's taking so long. If it's any help to you, I think you will find in these ten verses some assistance that won't necessarily be the black and white answers, but they will give you room to accept yourself right now as you are. In the first verse, we have sort of an initial orientation into this passage.
There are three questions that anyone would ask who is interested in serious Bible study. First of all, what's happened? Second, who's involved? Third, where are they?
What's happened? One word, a shipwreck. Chapter 27 is a story of a shipwreck, and Dr. Luke declares that they were delivered from the shipwreck and they were brought to the land, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. It's named for us, we'll look at that in a moment. Second, notice who was involved.
They and we. Up in verse 37 of chapter 27, there's a numbering of 276 people. 276 people had been on board ship and deposited into the sea and brought up safely on shore. See verse 1, when they had been brought safely through, we found out that the island was called Malta. Where in the world is Malta?
Chances are great that probably not more than five or six in this entire congregation has ever been there. The largest chunk of land that pushes out into the Mediterranean is a boot-shaped piece of land called Italy. Directly south of the heel on that boot is Sicily, and directly south of Sicily, 50 miles further across the Mediterranean is Malta. It has no land around it.
Closest thing to it is Sicily. It is a place of solitude and loneliness, which I think is significant in that it is called the island of Malta. I don't want to make the verse walk on all fours and spiritualize everything in it, but I think you've got to say something about healing being a lonely experience right here. No one can heal for somebody else.
As deeply as I may feel the grief that is in my own child's or my own wife's heart, I cannot experience it for them and save them from it. It is your own island. It is something that you perhaps are not responsible for. On the other hand, your island may be something that we could call a consequence.
You are directly responsible for where you are. Jesus himself withdrew to a lonely place and by himself recovered. I appreciate so much the writings of Winston Churchill. One of the books in my study is called A Man of Destiny. It's an anthology of Churchill's works. Among it is an article called Painting as a Pastime. Maybe you didn't know it, but the former Prime Minister of Britain loved to paint.
If you ever saw his paintings, you would see why they're not so popular, but nevertheless, he loved to paint. As a matter of fact, he looked upon that as a marvelous repose from the strains of his duty. The point I want to make is that your island at Malta may not be sitting beside a beach for a month watching the waves roll in. Don't try to stop worrying by saying to yourself, today I'm going to worry about nothing. Ever done that? Today I'm not going to think about, and that is what you think about all day long. What do you have to do to get rid of that strain, that worry, that muscle that keeps exercising? You've got to do something else. With vigor, with energy, you have to change from one to another.
That's what Churchill's point is here. It's that a part of the brain is weary from a whole series of things, and you've moved into boredom through that experience, without even calling it that. You need a change to freshen up your job, your responsibilities.
Change is needed. That's all part of the experience at Malta. Now, I want to warn you, as Paul models for us here, there will be a whole number of things that you will experience from other people while you are healing. First, you will experience extraordinary kindness. See verse 2? The natives showed us extraordinary kindness, for because of the rain that had set in, and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.
There's kindness shown. By the way, I think it's interesting that the word natives has, as its Greek root, barbarian. The Greeks, in their sophistication, referred to those islanders that spoke in sort of a gibberish. At least to them, it was a gibberish.
They just passed them off with a sweep of the hand, and they'd say, bar, bar, bar, bar, bar. And the word barbarian grew out of it, and that is the word translated native here. The New English Bible refers to them as rough islanders. We would call them, maybe, savages. Funny things happen when you're around savages. One young man from our congregation spent a couple of years in West Irian, or Irian Jaya.
And while he was there, he was with the Doni tribe, and he certainly didn't learn the language, nor did they learn his, but he had a lot of fun with them. While he was with them, he did funny things, like stick a copy of our church newsletter in front of him, and there's a picture of them, quote, reading our news break. They're not reading it, they're just standing there looking at it. And it's framed, and it hangs in one of our secretary's offices, just as a reminder that our news breaks go all the way around the world.
It's amazing. In fact, he taught them to say things. They didn't know what they were saying. They practiced, E-V free.
And they said it, E-V free. And he got them to say it, and he got it even tape recorded, and you've heard it, perhaps, if you've heard him talk. Maybe these natives were learning to say, Paul the Apostle, or something like it.
I don't know. But they received him, they welcomed him. There was extraordinary kindness that'll happen early in your illness. That'll be the first response you will get from individuals who hear that you are laid aside. Second, unjust criticism. See verses three and four.
When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, undoubtedly, look at that word. When you operate from superstition, see, you make sweeping statements. Undoubtedly, the man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live. Says who?
Well, undoubtedly, it certainly would look like that anyway. I am sure that you have experienced unjust criticism if you have been ill for longer than three days. You can't pull out, you don't have the right password to get out, and you're there. And you're hurting. And along comes someone that believes that false principle, calamity is proof of guilt.
Like Job's counselors, remember them? To a man. Obviously, you're getting punished. Now get your act together. Clean up your life. Do not plead with all of us, all of us who minister to the hurting, to guard against unjust criticism.
They're hurting enough without that. By the way, if you are a leader and you go through periods of valley, then you will experience that also. One man wrote, it's true if you're a leader, you spend your time either on the top or on the bottom.
You seldom know what it's like to be in between. You're either the hero or the villain. You're distracted or you're virtually hated. People in leadership must live on the yo-yo of public opinion under the gun of verbal jabs as well as on the crest of great admiration. You're either the object of intimidation or blinded by the dazzling lights of exaltation. Often an individual who is laid aside does things that offend you. A person who is engaged in his work and for some unexplainable reason does something that you don't like.
Changes your whole opinion if you're not careful. In a little piece entitled, Who Changed, we read, There was once a preacher whom I used to like. I thought he was great. His sermons were wonderful as long as I liked him.
His speech was fair. His life was clean. He was a hard worker as long as I liked him. He was the man for the job. In fact, I was strong for him as long as I liked him. But he offended me one day.
Whether he knew it or not, I don't know. Since that day, he has ceased to be a good preacher. His sermons aren't so wonderful since he offended me. His speech isn't so good. His fault's far more prominent since he offended me. He's not a hard worker. In fact, he's really not the man for the job since he offended me. It's really a shame he's changed so much. Of all the human tendencies, perhaps that is among the strongest.
A.T. Robertson, the Baptist scholar of yesteryear, said, So fickle is popular opinion. Isn't that true? Look at the next statement. Look at verses 5 and 6 on the heels of verse 4 where they said, He is undoubtedly a murderer. Look at verse 5.
However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say, He is a god.
The third response is inappropriate exaltation. It is remarkable how the opinion of the public will change. It is so fickle. The only place you will find ultimate security, believe me, is in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is never changing. Before I go any further, I want to add this thought practically for all of us. If for some reason you were called alongside someone who is in the midst of the valley, it is safe to assume that that person wants out of the valley more than you want him out or want her out. And it is doubtful that sermons will help.
Probably they will hurt. It seems really a shame that we feel we must address everything verbally. We're sort of cut out of that mold. It is almost as though we haven't done our job as counselors or friends if we do not give a message to the hurting or the guilty.
Those in the valley. You really do not need to do that. Believe me, that's the spirit of God's job.
The better part of wisdom often is to say nothing. Just to be there. Just to let them know that you care.
We have a family in our church that has gone through the horror of losing a daughter who was viciously murdered. It happened last year. They are just now recovering. Thirteen months.
That's pretty quick. They wanted to recover the next day. It was just impossible to put the pieces together and to find good or to feel in the whole horror of it the truth of Romans 8.28, which surely was quoted a dozen times the first week to then. As you can likely tell, there's much more that Chuck Swindoll wants to say about today's topic. We're talking about what to do when the spirit brings a slow recovery. You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll's teaching series on the Holy Spirit is titled Flying Closer to the Flame. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Each of these programs is located on the Insight for Living website, and by utilizing this resource, you'll have all of Chuck's teaching right at your fingertips. But perhaps today you're looking for something more tangible, like a book to read. Well, Chuck wrote a full-length volume called Embraced by the Spirit. It parallels the teaching series in many ways, but Chuck goes into far greater detail in the book. The subtitle gives you an idea of what you can expect, The Untold Benefits of Intimacy with God.
To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash store. And then as God prompts you to give a donation, please follow His lead. There's no large church or institution that fully underwrites this nonprofit ministry. It's your voluntary donations that make it possible for us to provide these daily visits with Chuck. To give a donation today, visit insight.org. Your gifts truly make a difference.
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I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll talks about what to do when the spirit brings a slow recovery on Insight for Living. The ideal for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 08:12:27 / 2023-02-15 08:22:07 / 10