One of the most discussed and a debated promise of God undoubtedly is God’s desire and ability to heal those who are sick or injured. The testimony of Scripture is clear on the subject that God does heal those who believe and has done so from the beginning. There are two well-defined targets of the Lord’s healing power, those who are in need of spiritual healing and those who require physical relief from disease, deformity or injury. One of the earliest references in the Old Testament is His decree to the Israelites that he would protect them from the diseases He brought upon the Egyptians (Exodus 15:26) and His self-revelation, “I am the Lord who heals you.” The Gospels, in the New Testament, record for us numerous examples of healing, performed by Christ and also His disciples. Of course the disciples performed such miracles out of obedience to Christ’s command to do so and it was by His power that it came to pass. Most Christians have no trouble believing in God’s power and desire to heal them spiritually because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross but when it comes to physical healing it usually is confined to a desperate request made out of despair when all else has failed. Part of the reason for this is that most people fear physical death in this world more than the eternal death that awaits those who reject Christ and His offer to save them.
We live in a culture in that is obsessed with health related issues and this is clearly evidenced by the fact that in 2006 it represented 16% of our nations total economic output and by 2020 will have risen to over 20% of GDP. Is that a lot? Well we are number one in the world in per capita spending on health care and Canada, our neighbor to the north, doesn’t even make it into the top ten. If you watch much television, the advertisements for drugs, hospitals, doctors, treatment centers, and even lawyers who will sue them on your behalf, represent a large slice of what is pumped into our homes day and night. It seems that there are cures for everything, everywhere and by my estimation with all the money and energy spent on promoting healthy lifestyles, all of America should be healthy, wealthy and wise by now!
In light of the popularity of health care and our obvious obsession with it, let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say on the subject and the role the “great physician”, Jesus Christ. First let’s address some misconceptions that many Christians and non-Christians share; the first is our attitude toward physical death and the suffering that often precedes it. There is an assumption that living longer is good and death is a bad. Certainly, in light of the 6th commandment, the taking of a human life, murder, is forbidden by God and a sin. But death itself, the first death, that of our physical bodies is not, in fact it can be viewed as a mercy brought about by God Himself. I remember when my father was dieing of cancer; clearly it was a blessing when he died both for him and my mother. Also, there is this idea that the suffering that often accompanies death will necessarily rob one of their peace and joy. Is this why there this such an obsession with remaining young and living as long as possible? I think it has more to do with selfish narcissism than anything else.
I would certainly agree that if one’s life is without a divine purpose or dimension, then death is and should be a very scary thing. What I mean is that our whole mission in life is to lead others, by example and word, to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and then to assist them in growing in their faith so they might enjoy Him fully. If they reject God’s free gift it is the second death that they will experience, the one that will come to pass if one is found guilty of their sin and then sentenced to death before the judgment seat of God. The physical body has already been abandoned to the grave and it is one’s spiritual body that stands before God and His judgment. To fear death is nothing more than a lack of faith, plain and simple. Sure, we are all pain averse if we are normal. Even the Lord himself suffered excruciating pain and agony, no different than you and I might, but he had a purpose, one given to Him by the Father. It was the greatest act of love ever to be performed both on earth and in heaven, an expression of the depth of God’s eternal love for those he created in His image. “Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame (Hebrews 12:2).”
There is joy even in suffering if it points to Christ and testifies to His glory. Remember that the purpose of Christ’s healings in and around Jerusalem was not just for the relief of a few close friends or those who came before him in faith. If Christ chose to eliminate all pain, suffering and death from this world tomorrow, it would be done. Every healing performed by Christ during His ministry on earth was done to point to His father and to testify to the fact that He, Jesus, came from the Father. When we display the peace and joy of Christ in our times of personal tragedy, then we are a living testimony to those who don’t know Him as Savior and perhaps they will ask you how and why you are joyful in the face of such great trials.
“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind Him (Jesus) and touched the edge of His cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I touch His cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart daughter,’ he said, ‘Your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment. News of this spread through all that region (Matthew 9:22, 26).” Have you reached for the edge of His cloak or have you helped someone else extend their hand so they might touch it?
Tool #297 To die for the sake of Christ and His glory is good. To live for Christ and to tell others of His glory is even better.