“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4–5, NIV)
“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”” (Matthew 8:16–17, NIV)
“I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.” (2 Timothy 4:20, NIV)
The Bible includes Divine Healing as a part of the gospel. Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah as he healed the sick. In Capernaum (Matthew 8:16-17), Jesus healed all the sick that were brought to him. In other instances however he selected some to heal. He healed one among the many at a pool. He passed by the lame man that later Peter and John would pray for and he was healed. We are not told why he selected some and did not heal others. However, he knew what he was doing!
We also cannot exclude that there are times when God will allow or use an illness as part of his plan in our lives. I think that is rare, but, He is sovereign and there are simply times that God in his wisdom chooses not to heal either immediately or not at all. It is not a capricious choice but a choice of love and wisdom. We can be assured that God wants what is best for us and rejoices over us.
Too often people are like Job’s accusing “friends” who blamed Job’s sickness and trouble on some supposed sin in his life. Over the years I’ve noticed that people like this have never suffered with physical infirmities. They wrongfully assume that is because of their righteousness.
I have a pastor friend whose beloved wife died of cancer and he was asked to leave the church because they supposed he lacked faith. These people had fallen prey to a self righteousness that took a precious truth like healing and pushed it to the extreme. They left no room for the sovereignty of God and his purposes. In time their church died slowly from a cancer that was more deadly than the cancer that my wife’s friend died of. She went to heaven. Sadly the testimony of body of believers was lost in a community that needed their witness. To sit in a local coffee shop and hear the angry stories that the locals told about those self righteous people was hard. Yet they revealed a love and compassion that showed a greater understanding of God’s ways and love.
God is merciful. He took our guilt, our punishment and by his wounds we are healed. The doctrine of the atonement is made more precious to me as I consider that we are delivered from our sin but even the evil effects it has had upon our bodies. Hallelujah.
Yet sometimes it is due to personal sin that we are chastised by sickness. Habitual, unconfessed sin brings with it harm to our bodies. When we know that we have sinned, we should run to the Savior and confess it and not run from Him and hide it. The sooner the better.
I’ve always loved the words that our church includes in its statement of faith that “Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers.” That phrase recognizes that not everyone is healed but it is a privilege that is available to all believers.
The Bible doesn’t promise to much. It leaves us with a promise but an unexplained problem as well. Trophimus, Timothy, Paul, Epaphroditus, all men of God in the New Testament suffered from some form of sickness. Epaphroditus was eventually healed and Paul was healed from some illness but given an explanation for his thorn in the flesh. I’m sure that these men were prayed for, anointed with oil and had great faith. But their illness does not mean the Bible promises too much. Their lives recognize what we must as well. We cannot push to extremes what is a fact of life this side of heaven. There will be sickness but there will healing as well. There will be suffering but there will be deliverance as well. Eventually, each of us will die but we will be resurrected as well. None of this make me question the privilege of Divine Healing. Instead I am persuaded that I must prayerfully and faithfully lay hold of God’s promises, live for His glory, grow in faith, and leave the results in God’s hands.
As someone who has had over 30 major surgeries yet has experienced God’s divine healing. I testify that he has never wasted a day of pain and suffering. I certainly don’t understand it all. But I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned and gained as a result. He is faithful. And by His stripes I am healed.
Next post, thank God for doctors and medicine but healing comes from God!