Sometimes individuals tell me they feel as though they are engaged in a spiritual battle as they experience trigeminal neuralgia, facial pain, and other disabilities. When trigeminal neuralgia raged within me, the more I prayed the worse the pain became. I felt that I was in a battle zone. On one hand, I “fought with God” because I wanted Him to stop the pain. I wanted His mercy. On the other hand, I used all my might to resist the pain and to stand against it.
Let’s take a look at both physical and spiritual dynamics that may be appropriate to discuss.
What causes illness?
So many things cause the body to break down, to experience pain or dysfunction. Some of the causes are age, injury, congenital, environmental, contagious diseases, and stress.
Is sickness always caused by the physical factors or can it be caused by a spirit of infirmity?
Let’s read from Luke, but first let’s consider Luke’s occupation. He’s a physician, which gives him a unique insight into illness.
Luke 13:10-17 (New Living Translation) One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
What had crippled the woman?
According to Luke, it was an evil spirit, which he calls it a spirit of infirmity. Infirmity has more than one meaning. It can mean “sick,” but it can also mean “weakened.”
So why would there be a spirit of infirmity when there are so many other destructive spirits?
Illness can wear a person down, making his or her life full of pain and sorrow. It’s one more way of stealing a person’s peace.
Let’s read Proverbs 18:14: The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? In other words, the human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit? Many people who have trigeminal neuralgia and other painful illness tell me that their spirits have been crushed.
John 10:10 also sheds some light on this subject. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
In many cases of pain, the first thing we lose is our sleep.
I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof. Psalm 102:7
My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest. Job 30:17 gnawing pains
Steal what else?
When individuals experience tremendous pain or illness, many things that are part of our lives are stolen. Some of the things are our peace, jobs, financial security, and stability in our relationships. Even our self-identity can begin to wane, and our thought processes disturbed by pain and medication.
Are you talking about demonic possession?
No, absolutely not.
If you are involved in a struggle that you sense is not only physical but also spiritual, you may want to do your own research about spiritual dynamics that may accompany physical illness. Let’s take a look at a passage in Peter.
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
Does your pain ever seem as though it is going to devour you?
What can we do when we as Christians wrestle with the Spirit of Infirmity? In my experience, the spiritual battle also involved the intense fear that accompanied the pain. I was afraid all the time, and the fear left me before the pain did. With God’s help, I confronted the fear first.
How does God’s word help us combat the fear?
1 John 4:18: Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
Psalm 91:4-7: He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.
To strengthen our faith, we can draw on current day testimonies of healing as well as Biblical accounts. Jesus still heals today. Every day we deal with some type of struggle or stress, and every day we have a chance to exercise our faith.