Divine Healing (In Depth)

Divine Healing (In Depth)

A blessing for our day.

God is the Great Physician. He is the omnipotent God, the Creator, and His knowledge of the human soul, mind, and body is absolute. He has made provision for every need in the lives of human beings, and this provision includes healing of the physical body.

Sickness not in God’s original plan

There was no place for sickness or disease in the original plan of God. After completion of His work during each day of creation, God looked upon what He had done with approval and saw that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). The decision of our foreparents to rebel against their Creator brought terrible consequences for everyone; disease, pain, and death entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. However, with the curse that followed sin, God gave a promise of deliverance.

Healing provided through the atonement

Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan. We read in 1 John 3:8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Along with paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus provided for our healing at an infinite cost. The prophet Isaiah describes the sufferings of Christ in great detail, saying, “Surely he hath borne [lifted or taken away] our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). The word translated griefs is the same word used in reference to physical sickness and disease in 2 Chronicles 16:12; 21:15,18-19, and Isaiah 38:9. Sorrows is the same word used in Job 33:19 to denote physical pain. So this verse could be translated, “Surely he hath borne our sicknesses and carried our pain.”

Isaiah continues, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The verb healed, meaning “to mend or cure,” has a connotation of being made whole. While the prophet seemingly saw the picture of Christ’s future suffering in such clarity that he spoke of it in the past tense, he indicated that with His stripes we “are healed” (italics added), the verb tense reflecting an ongoing or continuing action. Thus, the prophet foretold that with His blood, Jesus would pay the price not only for our salvation and spiritual healing, but also for our physical healing.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter quoted from Isaiah’s prophecy. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). In stating that Jesus’ stripes brought healing, Peter used the Greek word iaomai. In the vast majority of cases throughout the New Testament where this word is used, it indicates physical healing. (The only two exceptions, where the word could possibly be referencing spiritual healing, are Matthew 13:15 and John 12:40, both of which are quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10.)

The Apostle Matthew also quoted from Isaiah’s prophecy. We read in Matthew 8:16-17, “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah’s stripes would avail for humanity’s healing. Matthew simply recorded that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by physically healing the sick, giving definite proof that both Isaiah and Peter were talking about physical healing. Matthew used two specific words to make clear this truth: infirmities (from the Greek word astheneias, meaning the “consequences of sickness”) and diseases (from the Greek word nosous, meaning “sicknesses”).

The fact that Jesus healed people of physical ailments before giving His life on the cross does not negate the fact that healing was provided through the Atonement, as Scripture records that Jesus also forgave sins before His death on the cross. (See Matthew 9:2,6-7; Luke 7:48-50.) Healings that took place prior to Christ’s crucifixion foreshadowed the price that would be paid at Calvary, just as healings that take place in our day look back in faith to that event.

Healing in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, we find many references to God’s power and willingness to heal. God gave the first recorded promise of divine healing soon after He brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, telling them, “I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26), and this promise was subsequently repeated (see Deuteronomy 7:15; Proverbs 4:20-22).

A number of the types or foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament relate to healing and atonement in conjunction with one another. For example, at the time of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to slay the Passover lamb—the lamb symbolizing the Perfect Sacrifice who would one day come. They were to put its blood on the doorposts, and were promised that the blood of the lamb would save them from death. They were also instructed to eat the body of the lamb, and this would give them strength and health for their flight from Egypt. Psalm 105:37 says that when they came out, “there was not one feeble person among their tribes.” The blood of the lamb availed! In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Christ is referred to as the Passover Lamb—pointing to the fact that Jesus’ blood purchased our salvation and the stripes He bore on His body purchased our healing.

When the Children of Israel sinned and God sent poisonous snakes among them to punish the people for their unbelief and complaining, a remedy was offered. Moses was commanded to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole so that any Israelite who had been bitten could look upon it and be healed (see Numbers 21:5-9). In John 3:14, Jesus specifically referred to the bronze serpent in the wilderness as a foreshadowing of His crucifixion. Just as the Israelites were healed of their physical sickness when they looked to the serpent suspended above them, humanity can be delivered from the spiritual sickness of sin by looking to Jesus’ death on Calvary.

The Old Testament records many miracles of healing and even raising of the dead. For example, a dead child was restored back to life through the prayer of the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:22). Naaman the leper received healing when he obeyed the command of Elisha to wash seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1-14). God healed King Hezekiah in response to his prayer, and added fifteen years to his life (2 Kings 20:6).

In Psalm 103, the Psalmist David gives praise for the fact that God “healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3). In other psalms, too, both physical and spiritual healing are referenced as coming from God.

A picture of spiritual healing

Throughout Scripture, physical healing is often used as a picture of spiritual healing. The Psalmist proclaimed, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). The prophet Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, spoke of a day of hope for Israel, promising, “I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds” (Jeremiah 30:17).

As Hosea decried the terrible moral and spiritual decay of God’s chosen people, he pled with them to return to God, saying, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1). In the closing verses of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi spoke of a day of destruction for the proud and the wicked, but promised that to those who fear God’s name, “The Sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).

Jesus’ ministry of healing

When Jesus walked on this earth, He did not minister only to the spiritual needs of the people; a great portion of His ministry involved healing those who were physically afflicted. Miracles of healing were an important part of the works God sent Jesus to do (John 9:3-4). Eye-witness accounts in the New Testament show that Jesus’ ministry included both divine healing and the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus’ power to heal was, in fact, a proof of His authority to forgive sins—His miracles of healing authenticated His teaching and preaching, showing that He truly was from God. In Mark 2:1-12, we read how four friends brought a palsied man to the Lord. They were so consumed with their mission that they tore apart the roof of the place where Jesus was teaching in order to lower the sick man down in front of the Lord. No doubt the paralyzed man was anticipating that he would be healed. The four friends who brought him would have had that same anticipation. Perhaps they were surprised when the first words out of Jesus’ mouth were, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” In fact, this man was paralyzed more than in his body—he was paralyzed in his soul! Jesus spoke to the greater need first.

To the Jewish leaders present, Jesus’ words were blasphemy; they knew that only God could forgive sins. However, Jesus’ claim to divine authority was true, and He subsequently proved His claim. He said to them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:8-11). Immediately the paralyzed man stood to his feet, took up his bed, and “went forth before them all.”

At other times also, healings helped to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior. When John the Baptist was imprisoned, he began to experience doubt as to whether Jesus really was the Promised One, and wondered if they should look for another. Jesus responded by calling attention to the “things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised . . . ” (Luke 7:22). He knew that these miracles—observable deeds, not theories—were the very acts that the prophets had said the Messiah would do (see Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1).

Again and again, references to Jesus’ miracles of healing are paralleled by references to His preaching of the Kingdom of God. For example, we read in Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” The teaching and preaching aspect of Jesus’ ministry reflected His concern for wholeness of the spiritual man; the healing aspect of His ministry reflected His concern for wholeness of the physical man.

As word spread of Jesus’ ministry, multitudes came from all directions both to hear Him and to be healed. He never turned any away, but undertook for all who came to Him (Matthew 12:15; 14:14). He cleansed the lepers, restored sight to the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, and speech to the mute. He cast out devils, cured fevers, and even raised the dead. No sickness or disease was beyond His ability to cure.

Divine healing available today

The healing ministry of Christ did not end with His earthly life; it is part of His work in the Church today. Jesus himself promised, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18). And this has been the case, for many were healed during the days of the Early Church and also since that time, as recorded in the history of the true Church to the present day.

Jesus’ promise at the time of His ascension is closely connected with prayer and asking in Christ’s name (see John 14:12-14; 16:23-24). The disciples, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, were to take the message of the Gospel of God’s Kingdom into the whole world, but it had to be in His name—that is, according to God’s character and His will. Requests made in His name, including those for healing, must be in line with His desires and eternal purpose on earth.

From Genesis to Revelation, God has shown His supernatural power, and His Word states repeatedly that He does not and will not change. We read in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” He made our bodies, and He is well able to mend and restore them. No form of illness or disease exists that He cannot heal, for “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). He is still a God of miracles. His power to heal is still the same today as it was when He walked this earth—it spans all of time, from the dawn of creation until this very day. Thank God, we can be assured that divine healing is still available today!

Causes of sickness

The Fall of Man resulted in terrible consequences for all humanity—we live in a world where evil impacts the health and welfare of every individual. Adam and Eve’s decision not to follow God brought upon mankind the realities of sickness, aging, accidents, and other physical calamities. Intemperate living and sinful lifestyles have also led to human illness in many forms: addictions, diseases, some types of mental and emotional disturbances, stress-related conditions, etc. Because of the Fall, even those who obey and serve God are not immune to sickness, disease, and affliction.

Some theologians suggest that God imposes, or at least permits, sickness and disease as punishment for wrong actions. At times, this may be the case (see Genesis 19:11; Exodus 9:8-11; 2 Kings 5:26-27; Acts 13:10-11). However, there are numerous other reasons given in Scripture for why affliction occurs. There is the normal decline of physical health that occurs in conjunction with old age (see Genesis 48:10 and 2 Samuel 19:35). Job was declared “perfect and upright” in the sight of God, yet God allowed Satan to afflict him tremendously. Job’s friends wrongly assumed that suffering always came as a result of sin, and tried to persuade Job to repent. God had a purpose behind Job’s suffering that was not related to failure in his personal life.

Sickness may be the result of rigorous duties. Paul’s companion in the Gospel, Epaphroditus, was “sick nigh unto death . . . for the work of Christ.” In other words, his illness was not due to any sin in his life, but because the work of the ministry was so demanding (see Philippians 2:25-30).

At times, affliction may be permitted as a means of displaying God’s power to observers. When Jesus’ disciples saw a man who had been blind from his birth, they asked Him who had sinned, the man or his parents, to cause him to be born blind. Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). When word came to Jesus that Lazarus, a beloved friend, was ill, Jesus said that his sickness was not unto death, “but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Another time, through the healing of Aeneas’ paralysis, the entire cities of Lydda and Saron turned to the Lord (see Acts 9:34-35).

Affliction allowed for personal spiritual gain

Sometimes God permits affliction to come into the life of a child of God for the purpose of that person’s personal spiritual growth or refinement, rather than for the benefit of others. David said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” (Psalm 119:71, italics added). He recognized that he could be strengthened and perfected by going through trials.

Although the Apostle Paul was a man of faith and spiritual power, he had to endure affliction. Some have suggested that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was intense bodily pain, or a chronic physical problem. Whatever its nature, this thorn was a distress in Paul’s life and he prayed three times for its removal. God refused, but He let Paul know that the trial would be accompanied by the enduring grace of God. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)

Scripture offers many other reasons why suffering may come to a Christian. Some of these include:

  • To prove God’s power to deliver – Psalm 34:19
  • To bring us back from wandering – Psalm119:67
  • To allow us to experience God’s comfort – Psalm 119:75-76
  • To teach us how to comfort others who are afflicted – 2 Corinthians 1:4
  • For our spiritual refinement – Isaiah 48:10
  • For our eternal gain – 2 Corinthians 4:17

Requirements for receiving healing

Serving God does not bring an assurance of a trial-free life. Rather, the Gospel promises adversity, challenges, sickness, and affliction, so believers need to know what to do when these events occur. Clearly, when our faith is anchored in the Great Physician, we will turn to Him in prayer.

A study of Jesus’ healing ministry reveals some spiritual requirements necessary for receiving physical healing. In most cases, a desire to be healed is expressed, either by the individual himself or by the one bringing that individual to the Lord. In Matthew 20:30-33, we read of two blind men sitting by the wayside who heard that Jesus was passing by. They cried out to Him for mercy. We read, “And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?” When they responded that they wanted their eyes to be opened, He “had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.” Jesus asked a similar question of blind Bartimaeus (see Mark 10:51). When the Lord approached the lame man by the pool of Bethesda, He asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6). When the answer was affirmative, Jesus healed him.

A desire for God’s divine intervention must be accompanied by a belief that God is able to heal. When Jesus was approached by a Roman centurion on behalf of his servant who was “grievously tormented,” He agreed to come and heal the servant. However, the centurion said he was unworthy to have Christ come under his roof, and indicated that if Jesus would just say the word, he knew his servant would be healed. Jesus commended the centurion’s faith, and responded, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” The servant was healed “in the selfsame hour.” (See Matthew 8:5-13.)

We find many other examples of times when faith was a key component of a miraculous healing. The woman with an issue of blood exemplified faith when she pressed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. His response to her was, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). He asked two blind men who approached Him for healing, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” When they responded that they did believe, He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:28-29).

Peter and John testified to the efficacy of faith after healing the lame man at the gate of the Temple, saying, “And his [Jesus’] name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:16).

The Bible makes it clear that from the beginning, faith in God must also be accompanied by a willingness to obey Him. In Exodus 15:26, Moses told the Children of Israel, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” The same principle was repeated to God’s people in Deuteronomy 7:12,15.

We find numerous examples in the accounts of Jesus’ ministry when He required people to take an action that would demonstrate their submission to and faith in Him. For example, a lame man was commanded, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (John 5:8), a blind man was told to wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:7), and Lazarus was told to “come forth” (John 11:43).

Instructions for the sick

In James 5:13-15, God’s Word gives clear instructions regarding what to do when we are sick. We read, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

James discusses the proper response to affliction (any type of assault from the devil) and to times when the heart is merry. Then he asks the question, “Is any sick among you?” At this point, he is being specific with regard to health issues. Our duty in those times is noted here: we are to “call for the elders of the church.” The Bible puts the burden on the sick person to approach the ministry and request prayer. He takes the first step by indicating his desire to follow God’s Word in this matter.

The question may arise, “How sick should one be before calling the ministry?” We should call sooner rather than later, because doing so is a Bible commandment. We need support when we face illness, and we need not carry this burden alone. We can benefit by obeying this commandment. It is a blessing!

The healing process outlined in these verses specifically involves the “elders”—the ministry, or mature spiritual leaders of the church. The ministers are told to anoint the sick individual with oil. The oil itself carries no supernatural or curative powers, but is used in anointing to symbolize the out-pouring of God’s Spirit. The oil has been consecrated by prayer—ministers prayed over it and asked God to use it for His glory—and that is what is used to anoint the sick.

The anointing is done in the name of the Lord, by the authority of the instructions given in God’s Holy Word. The ministers do not pray for the sick in their own name, spiritual strength, or ability. They want the attention and the glory to go to God, for only God can heal—they simply act in obedience to His Word. They take a bit of that oil on a finger, put it across the sick individual’s forehead, and acknowledge that they pray in the name of the Lord. They place their hands on the head of the sick individual, and pray a simple prayer asking God to undertake and to heal.

It is a prayer of faith—a prayer of expectation and reliance on God. It is also a prayer of yielding to God. It is implied that when we come for prayer we are asking for God’s will, for faith is based on submission to Him. In our hearts we say, “God, if You will get more glory out of me remaining sick than being healed, I submit to Your sovereignty. That is not what I prefer, but Thy will be done.” As the ministers and the sick individual pray together, they look Heaven’s way and submit to God’s will. Thus, the “prayer of faith” is a peaceful assurance that He will do that which is most for His glory and the sick one’s ultimate good.

There may be times when healing does not come because of some spiritual hindrance. Scripture indicates that a lack of faith (James 1:6-7), the need for prayer and fasting (Mark 9:28-29), sin or disobedience in the life (Jeremiah 5:25), or seeking with a wrong motive (James 4:3) can all stand in the way of an answer to prayer. Yet, a lack of instant healing is not necessarily an indication that any of these conditions exist. It may be that instantaneous healing is not the will of God in a particular case.

While we do not know how God will answer in each case, Scripture indicates that extraordinary cures will occur. In James 5:17, we read that Elijah was a “man subject to like passions as we are” and God answered Elijah’s prayer. Thus, while “thy will be done” is implied, it is also implied that God will give uncommon results to common people who pray. God will be glorified by the healing of bodies. James concludes his instructions by saying, “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” If that person’s heart is reaching God’s way and he confesses his sins, God promises to forgive.

Medical care a personal choice

In today’s society, the general public gives no thought to God’s power to heal, immediately seeking professional care when becoming ill or afflicted. In opposition to that mindset, some Christians may be inclined to equate trusting God with a refusal of professional medical care. We do not need to discredit the medical profession in order to believe and teach the Bible doctrine of divine healing—a doctrine which stands on its own merit. The acceptance or refusal of medical care is a personal choice, not a Bible doctrine. The Bible doctrine is divine healing.

We believe and teach that the Lord is the Great Physician. It is also true that the Bible indicts King Asa because, when he was afflicted, “he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12). However, we also note that King Asa had previously sought help from Syria in an act of unbelief and disobedience (see 2 Chronicles 16:7). Thus, he was condemned because he refused to seek the Lord, not because he solicited the assistance of physicians. (Some commentators indicate that the physicians in this case may have been heathen physicians who resorted to magic.)

The woman who had the issue of blood “had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26). If it had been wrong for her to seek the assistance of the medical experts of her day, Jesus would no doubt have pointed that out. Instead, He accepted the faith in Him that she expressed and commended her for it. Even today, God has performed many well-documented miracles for those who have been pronounced “incurable” by doctors. Many times, medical professionals themselves have expressed amazement at what their own tests have clearly substantiated was an act of divine intervention.

As Christians, we should support and pray for one who chooses to seek medical care in the same way we support and pray for one who chooses not to obtain medical care. It does not pay to make the refusal of professional care a cornerstone of our faith; it pays to make the doctrine of divine healing a cornerstone of our faith. We may find ourselves in a situation where we have no choice but to obtain care, or where it seems to be the best decision to solicit that care. We must build our faith upon the Word of God, not upon personal choices.

Ministers of the Gospel are often called upon to pray for saints of God facing health issues, including surgery. It is a privilege to go into a hospital before such procedures and pray with them. Those people have faith! Their trust is in God, so we must not equate the solicitation of medical help with an abandoning of Him. The Bible says, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is” (Jeremiah 17:7). Choosing professional medical care does not automatically mean one is abandoning God; looking to medical science instead of God would be. Ministers pray for the sick with anticipation that God will heal, and if they remain sick, that God will encourage their faith as they continue to rely upon Him.

Medical science has made amazing advances in recent years, both in the understanding and treatment of disease. However, man’s ability to restore health is still limited. At best, doctors and medical treatment may assist the human body in renewing the natural healing power invested in it by the Creator. God can heal in conjunction with medical help, but He also can and often does heal miraculously, without any human intervention. No matter what means God uses to perform the miracle of healing, Jesus is always the Healer (Exodus 15:26). He alone is to receive the glory for any manifestation of the power of God (Acts 3:12; 14:11-15).

How to endure in time of affliction

There may be times when God answers prayers for healing, but there may also be times when illness or disease is not taken away immediately. God may want us to endure for a while, but this trial of our faith does not have to defeat us. In 1 Peter 1:7 we read, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” The miracle of continuing faith and grace amid the fires of testing is no less a mighty act of God than the miracle of instantaneous healing which causes the world to marvel. God may want to provide solutions that will strengthen and make whole the spiritual man, rather than the physical man. It is the miraculous work of God which makes triumphant, overcoming Christians—and at times, the endurance of affliction is part of that process.

As we grasp by faith the fact that God’s ways are best, there are some steps we can take to cooperate with Him in the process He is working out in our lives and to overcome any attempt of Satan to defeat us.

  • Remember that the enemy of our souls has no power where the Blood of Jesus is present. When we feel the powers of darkness attacking with doubts, fear, or discouragement, we can plead the Blood of Jesus. It offers protection! Remember those words in Exodus 12:13, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Ask for it to cover you—your mind, soul, and body—and shelter you from the onslaught of Satan. The devil cannot stand against the Blood!
  • Reflect on times when God’s way obviously worked out for the best. “Ebenezer” was the name of a stone memorializing God’s past help (1 Samuel 7:12). Store up memories of past healings and deliverances, and bring them to mind whenever the reassurance of God’s present help is needed.
  • Rejoice in spite of affliction. The Biblical injunction to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18) is not just a suggestion; it is a command. When we obey that command, the result is a transformed perspective. Life’s realities may include physical challenges, but when we rejoice in spite of affliction, we find that we have a hold on something that will take us through.
  • Recognize that our willingness to trust God for the ultimate answer is a witness to unbelievers. God wants to use our trials as a living commentary on His ability to carry His children through any circumstance. While instantaneous healing may speak to hearts, faith in action is also a testimony that cannot be refuted. And if that is God’s plan, He will maximize the impact of our testimony for His glory.
  • Look for an opportunity to comfort others. Who can understand what it is like to suffer in the grip of unrelenting pain, day after day? Who can empathize with the emotions that come with a life-threatening diagnosis? Who can understand the ways that Satan comes to attack those who are on the sickbed? Only the one who has been there. Through your time of suffering, God has given you an open door to people who are vulnerable and in need of help—those who are hurting. Walk through that door!
  • Determine to learn the secret of contentment. Paul learned that God’s grace was sufficient to make him satisfied with the circumstances in which he found himself, and we can learn the same secret. If our goal as Christians is to know Christ and become like Him, then it is vital that we learn to accept anything which will enable that process to take place.
  • Delve into Scripture. When we seek help from God’s Word, we find it. In the pages of the Bible, we discover how others coped with sickness and pain, and triumphed. We see the compassion Jesus had for the sick, the diseased, and the disabled. We glean promises that encourage us to wait, to hold fast, to endure.
  • Focus on eternity. Paul said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our ultimate hope in terrible illness, suffering, or pain is in realizing that this life is not all there is. Get a fresh focus on the eternal conclusion of the whole matter!

Perfect healing will come

It is true that following these suggestions may not be easy, but we can be sure of this: the God who loves us understands what a struggle it can be for us to lift our eyes away from the circumstances of our personal battle and fix them on Him. And He is there to supply help and strength for whatever we face. When the enemy comes in like a flood, we are assured that “the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). God may bring relief through an instantaneous healing, but if that is not His plan, He will be there to encourage, to comfort, and to sustain us in the way that He has ordained for us. He has offered to “walk with us,” yoked together with us in our sickness, grief, and pain (see Matthew 11:29).

If you are still coping with pain and waiting for healing, there is hope. Your healing is coming; perhaps sooner, perhaps later. We know that God has a time and a season for everything (see Ecclesiastes 3). The Psalmist tells us, “The steps of a good man are ordered [prepared; appointed] by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23), and you can be certain that God is going to do something on this healing journey of yours. If His plan is to touch you and remove the affliction that you are experiencing, rejoice in that deliverance. If a period of suffering is to be endured, recognize that He will use it for ultimate good.

Whatever the case, remember that when Christ reigns supreme, there will be no more sickness, no more suffering, no more sorrow, and no more death. Someday, no matter what you are facing in this life, perfect healing will come!