The desire for healing comes to the forefront in all if us when we or someone we care for struggles physically, emotionally or spiritually with an issue beyond their or our means to resolve. Pain and suffering is a natural component of life. It is inescapable and universal. It has no conscience or judgment as to whether the afflicted person is deserving of it. It is not necessarily payback for sin or a person’s misdoings as assumed by Jewish Pharisaical belief. It just happens.
How do we deal with it? God encourages us to ask for his help in all phases of life, yet with healing he doesn’t always come through as we hope or expect. There is a mystery to divine healing that we would be wise to embrace. There was no formula Jesus used when and if he healed, no predictable “method.” The prophet Isaiah’s words in 53:5 are a source of hope yet are a source of confusion for many. Teaching from this wonderful passage can be both encouraging as well as perplexing, even frustrating, casting doubt on the work and veracity of God. Speaking ahead about Jesus, Isaiah writes “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” God himself suffered so that we would not have to suffer the impact in life and the eventual punishment eternally for the disease of sin.
Jesus’ healings are found multiple times throughout the New Testament. Scripture also mentions that there were occasions when he did not or could not manifest healings as when in his hometown in Mark 6: “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.” Jesus could not be boxed in regarding methods or motivations to heal. In Matthew 8 we see Jesus heal a centurion’s servant from a distance with no recorded words; he touched Peter’s mother’s hand and healed her; he touched and spoke to a leper and healed him.
Jesus healed where there was no faith indicated, just the prerogative of Jesus. We also observe healing where the faith of the needy was present, as well as by the request or the faith of others. In Luke 8 Jesus healed the woman who, in faith, touched his robe; he also healed (delivered) the man with legions of demons by speaking to the demons. In John 9 Jesus put spit and mud in a blind man’s eyes and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam; in Matthew 9 he healed a paralytic who was lowered through the roof, basically on the faith of his friends.
We can be perplexed by the variety of words used in scripture to reference “healing.” Isaiah used the Hebrew word “rapa” which means to be healed or cured. Several Greek words are used in the New Testament in connection with Jesus’ healings such as “iaomai” meaning healed or freed, “therapeuo” meaning give help, care for or heal, and “sozo” which means to rescue, save, deliver or heal. Doubling back to the Isaiah passage, the greatest and most sure “healing” this future Messiah (Jesus) would bring is healing for the most pervasive disease known to man, which is sin. This disease is natural and hereditary and infects all of mankind, and with Jesus’ wounds comes the absolute and certain healing of the spirit.
In 1 Peter 2:24 we are re-directed back to Isaiah’s passage: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” to make certain we understand the depth and intent of Jesus’ healing work. There is no mystery or confusion as to the purpose of his great sacrifice and provision for us. There is no doubt about the efficacy of Jesus’ to heal the most prevalent and persistent malady to mankind. His healing erases the judgment, condemnation and penalty of the disease which plagues our world.
“Maybe I will not get better - - or be healed.” Expecting a divine healing today is certainly possible as thankfully are all good things with God. God tells us to give him our cares and concerns. We should ask. But relief from sickness should not be seen as a guarantee from God. In doing so, we set ourselves and others up for potential disappointments which can shipwreck an otherwise healthy faith. Wanting relief is a natural response to pain and suffering. Enduring such suffering with the hope, not the certainty that God “might” give us relief still will be a challenge for us. This can open a doorway for our flesh and the enemy to shower us with all sorts of doubts about God as well as our personal faith. So, what can we do in this difficult moment or season?
I am not a Pollyanna, not excessively optimistic and reasonably familiar with the challenges pain and disappointment deliver up. And I know that maintaining a healthy perspective while suffering can be a huge challenge. I do. But one thing we can and should strive to do is to adjust our focus from the healing to the Healer, as much as possible shifting our sight from our personal issue and onto the person of God. The complexity of our healing is broader than we can see, but well within God’s purview. Healing you and me may be what he knows to be in our best interest and for his greater glory. Yet there may be a greater work God desires to do in you or me that makes the issue of our healing secondary. I know that hurts. There are times when God uses our suffering or the suffering of others to impact those around us and create change we may not even see. Healing may not always be for us or through us but sometimes around us.
It has been said we should always remember in the “dark” what God has shown us in the “light”, and that we are to “live by faith, not by sight.” (Understandably a frequent challenge) But there are things we know that become essential in a season of pain. We know unmistakably that God is good. We know that God is wise, omniscient and knows all things, including how we and others around us will react to life’s hardships. (He sees us in the struggle as well as how we emerge from it) God is at work. He is never pausing to orchestrate what will eventually bring him the greater glory. God has a plan. Even through whatever difficulties we encounter, God persists in preparing and executing what will ultimately be for our highest good. (Digest Rom. 8:28) And we do not know what that is, think as we might. And always, God is present with us as we struggle. He declares that throughout Scripture and wants us to take comfort.
We need never speculate that God has forgotten or forsaken us. Like it or not in certain circumstances, “his ways are not our ways.” This mystery of the “why” of our suffering and the “if, when and how” of healing will ensnare our good faith if we allow it or we allow the input of comforters like Job’s friends to distort our right thinking. We are indeed in a battle in these times, and we need the armor of a truth-founded faith and a right perspective of our God and Savior to enable us to persevere and emerge with a healthy faith. Think About It.