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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Healing and Faith

"You do not have to be sick because God wants to heal you, and if you'll have faith, He will heal you!" (Tom Brown. There are other examples of the same sort of thing -- I hold no ill-will toward Tom Brown. His web page comes up early in a Google search.)

This man, probably from the best of motives, has some of the truth on this subject, but he doesn't have it all, and the truth he has presented can be dangerous. God does often want to heal us. Some people don't believe He can, and may sinfully lack faith. But being sick, or not being healed, isn't necessarily because we don't have enough faith. Equating not being healed with lack of faith is the dangerous aspect of this. Why do I say so? Here are five reasons:

1. 1 Kings 14 tells the story of Ahijah the prophet, and Abijah, the young son of one of the kings of Israel named Jeroboam. Abijah was sick, and the king sent his mother to Ahijah to ask about the future of this boy. Ahijah told his mother that the child would die of the sickness, but he also said this: "14:13 And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam." (ESV) This boy was said to have pleased the Lord, but he died of a sickness.

2. Then there's the story of Job. God allowed Satan to afflict Job physically, not because he was a sinner, but because He wanted Job to be an example of faith in spite of suffering endured. (Eventually, Job was healed.)

3. Paul advised Timothy, one of God's ministers, to drink wine, rather than water, because he was frequently sick (1 Timothy 5:23).

4. Paul, himself, certainly a man of faith, and one who had been God's instrument for miracles of healing, was afflicted, apparently physically, with something that God did not remove, even though Paul prayed that He would, presumably praying in faith. (2 Corinthians 12) Also, Paul left Trophimus behind, because Trophimus was sick (2 Timothy 4:20).

5. Although most of the early apostles, probably including Paul, died martyrs' deaths, apparently John didn't. We don't know how he died, but he most likely got sick and died (counting the deterioration of old age as a sickness). So have many wonderful, faithful, Christians throughout the years, including some who have prayed effectively for healing in others, and in themselves.

Christ healed everyone who came to Him for healing during His earthly ministry. Christians are told to pray for the sick. (James 5:14) God often allows healing now, through a miracle, through medical treatment, or the body's own restorative powers, but, based on the Bible, we shouldn't always expect it, or assume lack of faith when it doesn't happen.

Healing, if it comes, is not principally so we feel better, but so God can be glorified. Suffering, too, can show God's glory. It's wrong to preach that God always heals those who have faith. Tom Brown, and I, will probably die from some illness associated with aging, and I hope that both of us die as believers in God's redemption, and His occasional healing.

Thanks for reading.

On January 28, 2012, I added the last sentence of point 4, and some labels/tags. I thank Ken Schenck, who recently wrote a good, short article on this subject.

On January 14, 2014, I am adding a link to a post, quoting my late father, who argued, in a letter to my mother, that going to see doctors was not usually wrong for a believer.


Keetha Denise Broyles said...

Again you have hit upon one of my "pet peeves"

God is a healer, but sometimes He chooses to use us WITH our physical conditions.

Every single Biblical character EVENTUALLY met death - - - how would you explain that if God chose to heal ALL of us ALL the time.

Also - - - saying God will heal us if we just have enough faith does two things - - - he leaves us trying to hit "just the right formula" to get healing, which seems ludicrous to me. It also puts God into a box "governed" by those same formula rules. That also is ludicrous.

And - - - having been raised by a godly mother who suffered for more than 50 years with crippling RA, and yet was used over and over and over by the Lord - - - I just KNOW there's a lot more to the story of God's gift of healing than the little "formula" version.

Thanks for writing this post.


I also believe that healing is up to God using whatever methods He chooses, be it directly from
Him or using medical science. I read a group cancer study and those that believed in God had a
higher cure/remission/healing occurrence than those not professing the same faith. I enjoyed the
post, thanks.

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you both, and I know that both of you know something (more than me, so far) about physical suffering, in yourself, or those you love and care for.

God can get glory out of sickness, even death, and out of healing, and it's not up to us to dictate how He works.

Thanks again.

chuck said...

God also gave us reason, and logic. I believe God expects us to use those to figure out problems like climate change and sickness.

Martin LaBar said...

I believe so, too.

Thanks, Chuck.