“Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil.” (Psalm 90:15 NASB)
God is The Blessed Controller of ALL things. He is sovereign, especially in the lives of those who have asked Him to be for them. So many of us struggle with the question of supernatural healing. If God's will is that everyone be healed, if "By His stripes we are healed", then why are so many believers sick and afflicted? If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and He healed yesterday then where is the healing today?
God's Word is truth, unequivocal truth. God IS the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God healed yesterday and He allowed affliction yesterday. He did both of those things for those of great faith and those of little faith. The man who asked Jesus to heal "if it be Your will" -Mark 9:24(a prayer with some doubt), got his healing. The centurion who told Jesus that He need only say the word and it would be done -Matthew 8:8 (a prayer of great faith with no doubt), got his healing. I don't believe that healing depends on your level of faith. I believe it depends on God's sovereign plan for you and your life, and His glory through your life. Does God's light shine brighter through us when we are glad in the midst of affliction or when there is a lack of affliction or sickness?
There is also the matter of physical healing and spiritual healing. Salvation brings with it many benefits, some of which will not be realized until we reach eternity. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of things to come, our seal. We do not immediately receive everything we are promised the moment we receive Christ. Some of our healing is a process. Granted, some are immediately healed upon salvation, but that is according to God's will and it is apparently not His will for everyone. Some of us get to go on a journey of healing during which we learn many things. Some of us get to live our entire lives with a thorn in our flesh of some kind through which God is glorified to many people. Dave Roever, Joni Eareckson Tada, just to name two. Are you going to tell me they don't have the faith to be healed? If you don’t know who they are, I would suggest Googling them. They are amazing people of God.
Let's study the scripture in 1 Peter 2:24 a little bit - "By His wounds you were healed." (NASB). According to Zodhiates Complete Word Study Dictionary, the word for healed in the original language is iaomai. It's meaning in this particular verse is as follows: "Metaphorically, of moral diseases, to heal or save from the consequences of sin." This is the same word used in Isaiah 53:5. There is another word - sozo - that is used in Matt. 9:21,22; Mark 5:23, 28, 34; Luke 7:50; and a few others. This word, according to Zodhiates, is used with the meaning to heal physically. What I ascertain from this is that the verse that we so often quote to remind one another that our sicknesses and physical ailments are healed, is actually referring to spiritual healing; our salvation. Physical healing happens in God’s time and according to God’s purposes. Read all the accounts of Jesus healing in the New Testament. A lot of them are very different - different methods and different timing (He waited until Lazarus had been dead for several days) John 11:39-44.
I am not denying that faith plays a part in our healing. I believe it most certainly does. What I AM saying is that even if your faith is the size of a mustard seed, you can still be healed.....IF it be God’s will for that particular time. In the end, we WILL all be healed. We will all have perfect bodies - Philippians 3:21. This will not happen, however, until the day Jesus returns for His church. Until then, God allows sickness and affliction, and He works it for good. He uses it to glorify Himself and to strengthen us - 1 Peter 1:7; Romans 5:3. It is because He loves us that he allows the trials, and sometimes those trials are in the form of illness.
I know none of us wishes illness on our children. As a mother, I hate when my kids are sick. Think, however, about what our children would be like if we shielded them from ever suffering any kind of hardship, illness, or consequence of their own actions. What kind of adults would we be sending out into the world and how would they function there? On the other hand, what would be the affect of allowing them to suffer these things while under the umbrella of our love and guidance? Now correlate those two scenarios to our relationship with God as His children.
I can speak personally from both sides of this issue. God has used illness in my life to strengthen me, to get my attention, and to work out part of His plan for my life. It was while recovering from an injury and then an ailment, that the Lord and I wrote our first Bible study and I came to understand my true identity in Him. It was through a lengthy illness that God taught me patience and forbearance. It was through healing of this same illness that God taught me about His sovereignty and how He works things for His glory. My faith in God has always been present in varying degrees. Even before I began my walk with Him, I had a level of faith in Him. I knew ABOUT Him long before I ever really KNEW Him. Regardless of the level of my faith, God works out His plans. “For the Lord Almighty has purposed and who can thwart Him?” - Isaiah 14:27
The Word of God must be taken in it’s entirety. Those who say you must only have faith to be healed, are plucking out scripture here and there and not looking at the whole. My son likens it to treating God like an intergalactic candy machine (I thought that was kind of a cool analogy). If we’re going to take God at His Word, and hold Him to His Word, then we should take Him at His entire Word. Not just the words that make us feel good and lead us to believe that God is all sunshine and roses, and only wants what makes us happy. God wants to try our faith by fire - 1 Peter 1:6-7 and through that He will never leave us nor forsake us. - Hebrews 13:5. All through the Bible, God allows His people to suffer illness and affliction. He heals them and saves them according to His timetable, and they are drawn closer to Him in the process, or at the very least forced to give Him glory. Time is not the same to God as it is to us. He has freed us and healed us, but not all at the same time or in the same way, or even this side of eternity. Oftentimes, we pray for the manifestation of our healing to come sooner rather than later because we don’t want to believe that He would allow us to suffer. That is NOT the case. If it were, there would be no martyrs. There would be no unbelievers standing in awe of the power of God at work in a believer suffering through adversity and counting it all joy!
I, personally, am tired of being told to simply claim my healing and it will be so. To simply have faith and by my faith I will be healed. I will be healed by my Heavenly Father, who loves me like no other, when He says it is time for me to be healed and not a minute before, or a minute later. I have utter and complete faith in Him to work in me according to His perfect will and purposes. Whether that means that the ailment I am currently suffering with gets healed tomorrow or next year, really doesn’t matter. I dare not be so presumptuous as to demand that He heal me right now, today. His purpose for allowing this ailment may not be fulfilled, and I don’t want to miss anything that He has for me.
On the other hand, I do not want to claim this ailment as my own. I do not want to take ownership of it and thereby allow it to remain any longer than it’s supposed to. By the free will given me, I can choose to keep this ailment longer than God intended me to have it. Therein lies another key to healing. If God ordains that I be healed today, yet I don’t want to be healed, He’s not going to force me. God knows our heart. If we’re saying with our mouths that we want to be healed, but our hearts are resisting that healing, God knows it. Remember the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda? Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed - John 5:6. I can’t imagine Jesus healing him if he had said “No”. Herein lies the great mystery of how God’s will and free will work together. A mystery I have yet to understand, so I can’t go too deep here. The Word says that we can’t add to the number of our days, but it does not say that we can’t take away from them with our poor choices.
This issue of healing can be a deep well. For me, God’s sovereignty is the key. I do not believe that we can take one scripture out of context and hold it up to God and say “See! You said right here, so I want it and I want it now!” The Word of God is so much richer and deeper than that. It requires study of the whole to truly understand it, and a little word-study know-how comes in handy as well. I don’t claim to know all of it (although I have read all of it), I have not STUDIED all of it. One thing I have come to understand without a doubt, however, is the fact that God is the boss. What He says goes. He is not an intergalactic candy machine or a genie we can conger up by saying certain Bible verses over and over again. We cannot put Him in a box and expect Him to perform according to our will. Those are dangerous attitudes and I do my best to avoid them. I also understand that He loves me unconditionally and what He allows in my life is for my good. I also understand that I have free will and if I choose to step out of his will and do things my own way, there will be consequences that I will suffer. I also know from experience that if I repent of stepping out of His will, He can also work that experience for good - and He may or may not remove the consequences.
My responsibility as His child is to stay on the path He has laid out for me, trust, and obey Him. If He tells me to pray for healing, then I will. If He doesn’t, I probably will anyway and add a disclaimer “thy will be done”. I’m just being honest here. His will is what I ultimately want because it will have the best result. None of us wants to be sick. If this illness or affliction is not God’s will for your life at this time, expect immediate healing, but if it’s an illness God has allowed for a reason, rejoice in the affliction allowed for a divine purpose (divine affliction) and watch God be glorified.