Acts 17:11 Archives

Sickness, Disease, Healing

In response to several questions, in italics and bulleted, below; by Dean VanDruff.

  • "Why does God allow us to be sick or suffer?"

  • God uses sickness in our lives as a way to 1) rebuke us, 2) slow us down, 3) remind us of our mortality, 4) sanctify us, and 5) to eventually bring us to Him and display His glory.

    Paul, for example, cites the sin of not discerning the body of Christ (not recognizing the mystery of Godliness among the brethren) as the reason "many are sick or sleeping among you" (1Co 11:30). God sends sickness as one means of punishment, as in Hebrews 12.

    While a lot of sickness and disease is due to personal sin, or even the collective sin of mankind, not all is. For example:

    John 9:2-3 (NIV) His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

    So sometimes God has us suffer (physically) just so that His glory can be displayed in healing us. Such glory is most radiant, and well worth the cost, as will be explored more a bit later. But the point here is that we cannot, and should not, simplistically say that all sickness is due to sin (or whatever), because if we do we are speaking way over our heads.

    Ps 131:1 (NIV) My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

    There are other reasons and purposes for sickness, but I trust you get the idea.

    The practical conclusion is that it is not ours to be God, to create the universe or even figure it all out, but to simply and humble love the Lord and put our trust wholeheartedly in Him.

    Rom 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

  • "My friend believes that God does not want her to be in this condition or to have this illness based on a line in the prayer that Jesus taught us: 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.'(Mt 6:10)"

  • If this gives her cause for hope and faith, then so be it. It is an appealing cause for hope, really, as a basis for healing prayer. Only she should take care to also be praying:

    Luke 22:42b (NIV) "Yet not my will, but yours be done."

    We need to be sure not to use "as in heaven" as a denial or excuse not to carry our crosses in the here and now. Certainly Jesus is not continually crucified in Heaven, but was on earth down here--the original context of this utterance. Get it? Jesus died once for all, and now He is in heaven. We, likewise, endure the indignities of the fall now and of living with the pain of holiness inside us in this evil world "for the joy set before us" while still "despising the shame" of the violence, sickness, and other "crosses" we must bear from time to time.

    Heb 12:2 (NKJ) Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    2 Cor 4:16-17 (Phi) This is the reason we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain.

    Paul wrote this as a man who had had the skin whipped off of his back, who had been thrown into rat-infested prisons, who had been left for dead after having had his body and skull crushed with stones, etc. "Really so transitory"? Paul had "joy set before him" and thus saw these as "light and momentary troubles". Wow, to have the "mind of Christ" to such a degree!

    Php 3:10 (NIV) I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

    Col 1:24 (NIV) Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions...

    2Co 1:5 (NIV) For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

    1Co 11:1 (NIV) Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

    1Co 4:16 (NIV) Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

  • "Will we ever see perfection here on earth as there is in Heaven right now?"

  • If we could in the physical, there would be no reason to destroy the earth and create a new one.

    In your consideration of this, remember that:

    John 18:36 (NIV) Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world..."

    So we err when looking for an overall, temporal solution outside of the dissolution of all things (Is 34:4, 2Pt 3:10-12) and a new heaven and a new earth. Yet, in the inner life, in the spiritual, His Kingdom is here and now:

    Luke 17:21 (NIV) "...the kingdom of God is within you."

    or a better translation:

    Luke 17:21 (NAS) "Nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst."

    The "Kingdom of God is within you" insofar as we yield to Jesus as King. This is not something "of the world", but is an internal, spiritual reality. To be sure, this spills out into the world as good fruit and gifts of the Spirit and good works, but it is inherently a spiritual, not physical, dynamic.

    Sickness may be used by God along the way as a means of correction or training in the Kingdom of Christ. As well, if it leads us to pray and/or occasionally see the healing power of Jesus (as He wills, not us), all the better.

    2 Cor 4:18 (Phi) For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.

    1 Pet 1:6-7 (Phi) This means tremendous joy to you, even though at present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials. This is no accident--it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire.

  • "As believers in Christ, do these sufferings and trials have to include sickness?"

  • Not "have to", but it is the most likely course. Some are mercifully killed and taken to the Father without disease, others will be raptured in "that day", and so forth. But in the main, our bodies suffer "wear and tear".

    1Cor 6:13 (NIV) "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-- but God will destroy them both...

    Rom 7:24b (NIV) Who will rescue me from this body of death?

  • Jesus said that by His stripes we are healed. Is that a spiritual healing only?

  • If you look at the context of the prophecy and its Old Testament use, the principal meaning is spiritual healing; as the context of the healing is of sin and spiritual separation from God.

    In the verse (below) we are considering, note the poetic repetition (common in the Psalms and of typical Hebraic construction) of saying the same thing three times (in three clauses) to make the point and show the author's "meditation" on the deeper meaning:

    Isa 53:5 (NIV) But he was pierced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

    The context is transgressions; iniquities; and resultant lack of peace.

    I used to think that physical sickness was not included in the scope of Isaiah 53. Yet it has been pointed out to me that in Mat 8:17, this very text is cited as a fulfillment of people being healed by Jesus from demon possession and sicknesses. So Isaiah 53 does spill over into physical healing as well. In any case, there are plenty of other scriptures which speak to physical healing directly as well.

    And right here is the point between physical and spiritual healing. If we do not believe that Jesus can heal people of physical diseases then we are kidding ourselves to think that we believe He can heal our rebellious, fickle, souls. Even a good human doctor can occasionally amaze with a dazzling physical healing, but who can transform the rebellious soul of man but God? Thus, to suggest or imply that God is not able to physically heal is a sure symptom of a deep unbelief that God cannot really heal and save us. That He can physically heal us is sure, but "will He?" is another question.

    1Pe 2:24 (NIV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

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