Archive for December, 2011

An Effort to Understand Why Not All People Are Healed

Twice in the last week I’ve been treated to two Christians who dogmatically hold that it is absolutely not God’s will for anyone to be sick and that He wants to heal every person.

I am one who firmly believes in God’s power to heal bodies from sickness and disease – and to keep us from sickness and disease.  And I have prayed for many, many people to be healed throughout my (as of now) three decades as a Christian.

Frankly, many have been healed but far more have not been, but I always pray with much faith for the person; I know my God is all-powerful and I expect Him to do great things and to receive the glory.

In addition, I could cite verse after verse from Scripture about God’s will to heal, from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

But my focus is more in this paper an effort to understand when God does not heal people.  For example, we read of Paul in 2 Tim. 4:20 concerning Trophimus that “I left sick at Miletus.”

To his young protégé, Timothy, Paul gave this advice: “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Tim. 5:23, italics mine).

Both Greek words that refer to the sicknesses of Trophimus and Timothy come from ἀσθενέω (astheneo).

The same holds true for Paul, who described his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:5-10) as a physical weakness (astheneo).

In this passage, Paul refers to this Greek word five times and he has learned to rejoice in those weaknesses (plural) “that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (v.9).

One believer that wrote a message on Facebook arguing strongly that God never wants His people sick said that in the context of 2 Cor. 12, Paul was referring to persecution but it actually does not.

Paul was asking God first and foremost to remove the thorn in the flesh, which he then immediately described in physical terms.

This is consistent with what he wrote in Gal. 4:13-15, where conservative biblical scholars routinely agree that the certain “bodily illness” (once again, the Greek word is astheneo) was some sort of grotesque disease of Paul’s eye.

We should note carefully from v.14 that Paul called this “a trial” (v.14).  Everywhere in Scripture we find that God uses trials in the lives of His sons and daughters for the chief purpose of conforming us into the image of His son (e.g. Rom. 5:3-5; 8:17-18; 2 Cor. 4:7-18; James 1:2-5).

May God use sicknesses or diseases that are part of this fallen, sinful world, as part of those trials?  We’ve already seen that He certainly did in Paul’s life.

We can find no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the great prophet Elisha, who performed virtually all of the miracles in his day that Jesus and the apostles did in the New Testament (NT).

And yet we read in 2 Kings 13:14, “When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die.”

What shall we do when we’re seeking to be well during a sickness or disease?  We should first praise God in the midst of it and continue to praise Him (1 Thess. 5:16-18; James 5:13).

Next, we should ask Him for His wisdom (James 1:2-5) and what it is that He is trying to teach us and thank Him that He will (James 1:6-8).

Third, we should ask the Lord – in His way and in His time – to reveal to us the purpose or the cause of the sickness or disease and thank Him that He will.  He may be trying to teach us something for ourselves or for others (2 Cor. 1:3-8).

Fourth, we should commit to a fresh surrender of our will and life to Him.

Having done those things, at some point, it is biblical for us to seek to be healed, but note carefully that healing has a conditional promise to it (James 5:14-16; cf. Ex. 15:26; Num. 11:33; Ps. 32:3-5; 107:17; John 5:1-14; 1 Cor. 11:27-30; Gal. 6:7-8).

One major area of our lives to be exceedingly cautious in is in the area of bitterness (cf. Heb. 12:15; Mt. 6:14-15).

Another major area to carefully examine is unconfessed sin (Prov. 28:13; cf. Ps. 51:8).

Patience also must be exercised, lest we find ourselves becoming demanding of God.

This is all I have time for now, but I will add to this document in the future.


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