Can God heal our bodies when we get sick? When they break down? When they are on the verge of death? I believe that he can, because my understanding of God, as revealed in the Bible, is that he can do absolutely anything and everything.
All of creation came into existence through the mere speaking of his voice. He created every star that I see in the night sky. He created the pine tree sitting outside of my window. His creative act in the human mind led to the invention of the very computer that I am writing with and the technology that you are using to read this post.
Healing, and specifically God’s power in healing, floats through my mind every once and a while, and it has been on my mind again the past few days. I work in a hospital providing care to people recovering from serious injuries and illnesses. Some of my patients are in the hospital a few days, and I have worked with people who have stayed in the hospital for many months.
I have cared for some people on and off for many years and some of the people who I met through their time in the hospital are among my best friends.
No one likes being sick, and when we are ill there is nothing as good as having our health restored. But time and again in my work at the hospital I have met people who will likely never experience a return to the health that they once had. Their bodies have acquired injuries that even the best medical and surgical treatment has little to offer.
As I stated in my beginning, I believe that God can heal absolutely anything and everything, but there is a qualifier to that, which is that God works healing according to his will. And this can be hard for us to grasp and accept.
We want God to work healing according to our will, and for our purposes, and we find it hard to accept that God’s purposes in our illnesses, even in our routine aches and pains, may be different. Paul wrote of this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, saying,
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Paul understood that God’s purpose in his suffering, which he very much desired to be relieved of, was for Paul’s own good. Paul’s suffering remained in order to serve God’s purposes rather than Paul’s.
I don’t mean to be trite about any suffering that anyone is going through, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. This post isn’t about the question of “Why suffering exists?” but rather to briefly address why we may experience healing in our suffering.
What I want is to be mindful that in times of suffering we are never alone. When we are suffering it may rarely be our first focus, but God is always with us.
There have been times when I have ardently longed for healing and it hasn’t come, at least not in the way I desired it. And in my longing I was eventually able to see God’s presence and have my own faith strengthened, like Paul, in the midst of my suffering.
While we most often think of healing in terms of our bodies and the day-to-day lives that we lead, we can also be mindful of God’s promises, promises of a time when for the people of God there will be no more suffering. In Revelation 7:16-17 the Apostle John writes,
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
We may or may not know the healing of our various ailments. We may earnestly yearn for, and pray for, the healing of those whom we hold dear, healing which may or may not come in this life.
And as we do so let us also be mindful that in the finished work of Christ God has a healing awaiting his children that is so glorious as to be almost unimaginable in its goodness and perfection.
To God be the glory, now and forever, amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.