Recently I was having a conversation with someone from a neighboring church who lamented that their congregation was having a lot of sickness lately. In another conversation with a health care worker, she talked about the hospital where she worked. “There are no open beds,” she said. I could only concur. There have been a lot of serious illnesses and accidents among our folks as well.
To get sick or to have a debilitating injury or disability is not only a physical challenge, but a spiritual challenge. It’s normal for us to question God’s love for us when we have these troubles. “Is God angry with me?” “Why won’t God heal me when I have been faithful to Him?” Even the most spiritual among us may ask these questions in our hearts. We have a Savior who was known for healing the sick. Why won’t He heal me now?
I don’t think anyone can give a definite answer to the “why” question. God’s ways are often not known to us. But there are some things that God has revealed to us in the Bible which may help us understand what sickness means and what it doesn’t mean with respect to God.
1. God doesn’t heal everyone, including every faithful person. We know this is true. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but eventually Lazarus died. Paul prayed for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh” but God told him, “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9).
2. Jesus taught His disciples that sickness does not come from sin. In John chapter 9, the disciples ask Jesus if a man is blind because of His own sin or because of His parents’ sin. Jesus replies, “Neither.” Then He tells them to see the man’s sickness as an opportunity to show God’s glory through helping him.
3. The New Testament commands us to minister to the sick and to pray for the sick but there is no command to heal the sick. In Matthew 25 Jesus commends those who visit the sick as His true followers. James 5:14 tells us to have the church pray for the sick. There is no New Testament command which compels us to expect to heal the sick. God does heal according to His will and timing, but we do not control such things.
4. The Bible does not teach that we lack faith if we use medical means to help our sickness. Paul had seen many people healed through the power of Christ and prayer, but he gave this advice to Timothy. “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Tim. 5:23). The wine was a medicinal help. And even though Timothy was a companion of Paul, he was not automatically spared any sickness.
These are just a few of the scriptures that deal with sickness in the life of faith. We will not know the answer to every question. But we can know that sickness does not mean God’s disapproval. We are eternal beings in Christ, but these bodies are not meant for eternity. They are part of the broken, fallen world in which we live. If you are sick or hurt, God has not abandoned you. Take heart and have faith.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC