When I worked for a chiropractor one patient knew I was a Christian so from time to time we would discuss spiritual issues. She had chronic back problems and was repeatedly lamenting that although she prayed continuously for God to heal her, he had not done so. She wondered why. Then she named off those in the Bible God had healed and a few others she knew first hand. After all, she was a Christian who prayed for others. Why had God not taken away her pain after she had consistently beseeched him to do so?
I empathized with her predicament, but gently pointed out that perhaps God did not exist to take away our pain. Healing is something God performs for his glory not our comfort. This was a totally foreign concept for her so she said, “I’ll have to think about that.”
Have you ever thought about that?
So if we are sick and choose to do so, we can call on the elders of the church, have them anoint us with oil, and pray for us. God will hear this prayer of faith and heal us.
Wait a minute… That isn’t exactly what it says. Although we can beseech God for healing in this manner (it’s biblical to do so), it doesn’t really say God will heal us physically. There is a spiritual element here that we skip over. The word “sick” here in the Greek actually means weary. So we are not talking just about the body – it’s the body and soul. That may be why the passage goes on to say we will be saved, the Lord will raise us up, and our sins forgiven. So this passage doesn’t really say God will physically heal us immediately if we follow this formula.
We all know God can heal the sick if he chooses to do so. Many benefitted from Jesus’ healing hands. Blind men regained sight, the dumb spoke, and the lame walked. However, it was more so God could be glorified and people would know that Jesus was the son of God, not so they could be more comfortable.
Sometimes God is glorified more when we are not healed physically. We have all known people who live with chronic disease yet their spirits are high, their attitudes are great, and they have a certain peace that passes all understanding. Those examples have done much to spread the gospel and witness for Christ.
Jim Evans was such a man. He was wheel chair bound. He could not speak and barely write. Yet he always had a smile. People used to bring him ceramic frogs because he liked to collect them. He never moaned and groaned about his condition, but once he wrote the word why with a question mark on his wipe board. He wasn’t asking why God had allowed him to have these difficulties; he wanted to know why God had called him to be a Christian since he was so limited in what he could do for God. My husband told him, “You were called to glorify God.” And he did. He was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Another such woman was Karen Johnson who died recently after being bedridden for around twenty years suffering with multiple sclerosis. She was a gifted painter, talented writer, and an inspiration to be around. In spite of her situation she was a dedicated prayer warrior and thoughtful encourager to all who knew her.
Although none of us would choose to be in constant pain, bed ridden, or wheel chair bound, still we can glorify God where ever he chooses to use us. Sometimes our physical healing glorifies God; sometimes not being physically healed can glorify God.
There are some in the Bible God choose not to heal immediately. Timothy had stomach problems. (1 Timothy 5:23) Trophimus got sick and couldn’t go with Paul on one of his journeys. (2 Timothy 4:20) Paul repeatedly beseeched God to take away his “thorn in the flesh” but God chose not to do so. God told Paul that this “thorn in the flesh” kept Paul on his knees. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, The Message) God said, “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It really is more about God, than it is about us.
Does God heal? Yes, he does. God will heal everyone, but it will be in his time. Sometimes that healing may not happen until Christ returns. There is nothing wrong for beseeching God for healing, but we must trust him to do what is best for his glory.