What Does the Bible Say about Sickness and Healing?
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God cares about our spiritual life and our physical life. He created the human body, and he is pleased when we enjoy health and vigor. But in this world our bodies endure sickness, pain, decay. Sometimes we abuse our own bodies, but often our ailments occur because -- well, we don't always know why, nor does God promise that we will understand why.
Healing occurs -- sometimes dramatically, as in the work of Jesus and his disciples. The Gospels overflow with stories of Jesus healing every kind of bodily affliction. So did his disciples, whom he promised that they could do the same works that he did.
God still works to heal people in ways that defy medical knowledge. It is never wrong to pray for healing, either for ourselves or others. The Bible tells us to pray for whatever we need, and that surely includes freedom from pain.
But healing does not always occur, even to the most loving, God-centered people. Why not? We don't know. But the Bible does promise us that if we are not healed in this life, there is something greater awaiting us afterward.
O LORD, you alone can heal me; you alone can save. My praises are for you alone! Jeremiah 17:14
I will give you back your health and heal your wounds, says the LORD . Jeremiah 30:17
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Matthew 10:1
Paul's first letter to the Corinthians tells about spiritual gifts, one of which is healing. It is clear that the gift of healing did not end with Jesus and his disciples.
There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. God manifests the Spirit through each person for the good of the entire church.
To one person the Spirit gives a word of special wisdom; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to distinguish between spirits. Still another person is given the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the same and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. Here is a list of some of the members that God has placed in the body of Christ:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who can get others to work together,
those who speak in different kinds of tongues.
In one of Paul's letters he talks about a "thorn in the flesh," some kind of physical ailment. Paul was certainly a man of faith, yet he was not healed of it. He wasn't told why. But Paul did the obvious thing in the situation. He accepted it:
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Every person who has ever been healed has died. Even Lazarus, the friend Jesus raised from the dead, died again. The Bible makes no promise that our present bodies, whatever their condition, will stay healthy or last forever. In fact, the Bible promises something much more glorious: a new body, like our present ones but also different, a body made for eternity.
We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down -- when we die and leave these bodies -- we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4
Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.
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