“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
–1 Corinthians 13: 2
“And God made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” –Ephesians 1: 9-10
“But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets.” –Revelation 10: 7
“So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” -John 9: 7b
As Christians we are sometimes uncomfortable with unanswerable questions about our faith. Rather than freely acknowledging, even embracing, the mysteries of God’s acts and ways, we often buy into the humanistic notion that all answers can be apprehended by us, since we are the “pinnacles of creation”. In a heart-healing counseling session, this attitude can come across as shallow and arrogant to the injured one. Often people need much more to be seen and heard, than to be advised and cajoled. Here are some of the difficult questions of healing, with a few Scriptural perspectives on each:
1. Does everyone get healed?
Paul had an eye affliction, cited in Galatians 4: 13-16. Timothy had a persistent stomach weakness (1 Timothy 5: 23), and Trophimus was left sick at Miletus with no explanation (2 Timothy 4: 20). Joni Eareckson Tada, quadriplegic since her teens and a dynamic Christian leader, confirms the truth we have experienced in our own lives and those near us: many who are prayed for are not healed. While not everyone is delivered from sickness in this life, all believers will ultimately be healed in their resurrected bodies.
Unfortunately, people have been further hurt, in the midst of their illness, by the very ones to whom they have come for help. An attitude is prevalent, which is said to be “corroborated” by Scripture, that if an individual does not get healed, it is because of some personal failing or sin, such as lack of faith. We believe our commission is to ask for Holy Spirit guidance then pray, regardless of the results. Jesus himself did not heal everyone in the world while physically present on Earth.
2. If I follow a certain procedure or formula, which worked for “Mr. So-and-So”, won’t it work for me?
The God of the Bible is a God of unending variety and creativity within the structure of intricately complex laws. The infinite mind of God makes every snowflake unique and fashions each person to be similar, yet amazingly different from every other human being ever formed. Every individual has his own story, with God’s particular plan for healing, wholeness, and fulfillment. Therefore, our job as friends/helpers is to help the sufferer discover God’s purpose one step at a time, not “plug in” some formula or technique and call for healing, as if the person were a car which could be fixed according to a computer model. Christ addresses each circumstance, situation, and person distinctly.
3. Does every healing happen instantly?
Most healings recorded in the New Testament happened right away (Mark 1: 31-32), but Jesus prayed twice for a blind man on one occasion (Mark 8: 22-26). Many people are restored progressively, over time. This is especially true in heart healing when broken abusive relationships have characterized the individual’s life from earliest days. Cumulative present experiences of continuing loving support can step by step set a person free to bond with Father God, perhaps for the first time.
4. What about the use of medicines, supplements, and psychiatric drugs?
Scripture never condemns taking compounds to aid the body’s natural healing; Jesus used oil and spittle like medicine (John 9: 6; Mark 6: 13; 7: 33; 8: 23). Paul encouraged Timothy to drink a little supplemental wine to soothe his digestion (1 Timothy 5: 23). Anointing oils were applied when elders prayed for healing in the early church (James 5: 14), and throughout the Old Testament essential oils were used for their healing properties.
God’s guidance is to be sought in sickness, whether or not medicines are used. King Asa sinned by seeking a physician rather than the Lord (2 Chronicles 16: 12); but his offense was not that he consulted the doctors of the day, but that he did not first look to God.
5. What about dying?
The Bible states, “It is appointed unto man once to die” (Hebrews 9: 27). This constant awareness of impending death renders our days poignantly precious. The time we have left is counted and known only to God Himself (Psalm 90: 12). However, we are told our end does not have to be before our time due to sin, sickness, and judgment
(1 Corinthians 11: 30; 2 Samuel 12: 15-23).
Because of Jesus’ victory through the Cross and resurrection, death has been conquered and is no longer our enemy. It is now a gateway to the world beyond. Therefore, when we pray for a sick person we need to look for God’s discernment as to the time when illness is terminal. Sometimes the best we can ask of the Lord is courage, hope, and His loving presence for the dying one in her universal experience, rather than merely calling for physical healing.