Last week I talked with a man whose wife recently died after enduring years of multiple sclerosis.
They were married 36 years, she’d had her disease for the last 26, and the last 18 she was bedridden. She went home to be with the One she longed to please all her days. She did please, honor and glorify Jesus – incredibly. And so did her faithful, loving husband who kept his vows and cared for his beloved till the end.
The same week I talked to a woman who is battling cancer, who told me she really wants to please God, but doesn’t feel like she can do much for him because of how exhausted she is all the time and the pain she experiences. What an honor it was for me to tell her that she is without doubt bringing immense pleasure to God in many ways, even as she perseveres in him through this affliction.
How do we please God on our sickbed or when we are disabled?
There are multitudes far more qualified than I am to talk about this, multitudes who have pleased God through suffering in ways I can’t even fathom, but here are some ways I have seen others please God on their sickbed or in their disability:
The desire to please God is pleasing to him. Unbelievers have no desire to please him. Only those bought with Jesus’ blood and filled with his Spirit long to glorify and please him. What parent wouldn’t be delighted to hear their child say, “Mom, I just want to please you and make you happy”? Even your desire to bring pleasure to Jesus fills him with pleasure and joy.
Trusting Jesus for your righteousness and justification pleases him.
Hoping in God pleases him. Even if you’re seeing a doctor or taking medicine, ultimately your hope is in Jesus to heal and help you, and that honors him.
Doing everything to God’s glory – even small and seemingly insignificant things. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If it’s taking a pill, or simply lying on your back, if that’s where Jesus has you, then you can do it for his glory.
Persevering in Jesus honors him. It’s easy to trust Jesus and follow him when all is going well. But when we trust him in pain and disability, that brings him great honor. The world would say “Curse God and die.” But you go on praising God and living for him.
To whatever degree you are able, looking to the interests of others – even if you can only whisper a brief prayer for a fellow sufferer.
Not complaining. The man whose wife suffered with MS for 26 years told me “I never heard her complain once.” “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15). When you endure without complaining you shine a bright light for Jesus to all around you.
Being content in Christ. A woman in our church who suffers from a debilitating disease told me how tempting it is to be discontent with her situation. She asked me to pray that Jesus would help her heart be content. How pleasing to God – both the desire to be content and the request! I hope I can imitate her in any afflictions I must endure.
Loving others. Spurgeon’s wife Susannah was an invalid, yet she collected money and gave away thousands of books to poor pastors.
Being cheerful and grateful. Believing that God works all things for good. Offering God worship and thanks on your sickbed. It’s easy to praise him when all is going well; how it honors him when we praise him in suffering.
Praying to whatever degree you are able. Even if it’s simply crying, “Jesus, help me,” prayer pleases God because you look to him as your supply and help.
Reading or listening to God’s Word. The man whose wife had MS told me she regularly listened to Scripture music and worship music to lift her soul to Jesus. It pleases God that we would want to know him through his Word.
Participating in fellowship to whatever degree you can. There are several folks in our church who faithfully come to the Sunday meetings and care groups, though it requires a huge effort and sacrifice. How that glorifies Jesus that they long to be with and love their fellow believers.
Back to my first thought – even the desire to please God honors him. I hope that many will know how pleased God is with them in how they endure and glorify him on their sickbeds and in their disabilities.