‘Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.’ 1 Timothy 5:23
Epaphroditus was a fellow soldier of Paul, and Paul recommended him wholeheartedly: ‘Honor people like him!’ The profound message of this passage is that even such people can fall ill, indeed so severely ill that they ‘almost die’. It is very important to notice that Epaphroditus did not fall ill because of disobedience, but: 'He almost died for the work of Christ' (:30).
Of course it is true that God does not want sickness. Jesus - moved by a heartfelt compassion - healed the sick. And already in the Old Testament Moses said: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and (…) I will take away sickness from among you’ (Exodus 23:25). But to many people an illness became a great blessing, and it has taught many a deeper life with the Lord. The meaningless slogan ‘God does not want sickness!’ does not take us anywhere. God's will cannot be captured in slogans: God's will is only understood in a true, hidden walk with Him.
Who thinks he is entitled to a good health, understands little of the gospel. The gospel does not speak of the human rights, but of the grace of God. Anyone who is preoccupied with human rights, still lacks the great joy that is the share of everyone who learns to live by the grace of God. And this is the joy Paul gives testimony of, when he says that God had mercy on Epaphroditus.
That is the message, that is actually conveyed by all the letters of Paul and in the whole New Testament. Who understands this, is no longer intent on seeking his own righteousness, but seeks God’s honor!