It is common to hear someone say that God doesn’t want anyone to be sick or poor. It is clear from the Bible that God is a God of healing. In listing gifts from the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 12 one of the gifts was healing. When John the apostle wrote to his friend Gaius he prayed that he would prosper and be in health as his soul prospered in 3 John 1-2. When Hezekiah was sick, near death God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell him he was going to die and that he needed to set his house in order. But when Hezekiah prayed God healed him and gave him fifteen more years to live. When Jesus was on earth he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. He also gave his apostles power to heal all kinds of diseases and to cast out demons.
One obvious point from studying the life of Jesus and his healing ministry was that sickness of different kinds was often tied to the work of demons. With problems such as blindness, deafness, inability to speak and leprosy Jesus cast out demons to bring healing to different people. Even the story of Legion who was possessed with many demons, the fact he was homeless, tormented and out of control was tied to the demons who lived in him. When the demons were cast out he changed from a wild man to one clothed, in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Does that mean that all sickness, homelessness, and insanity is from demon possession? Certainly not! Many of the most godly people talked about in the Bible suffered with different illnesses but were not possessed by a demon. Timothy was such a good man that Paul said of him that he had no one else like him and used him as an illustration of one who had the mind of Christ. Yet Paul told him to take a little wine for his stomach sake and for his often illnesses. Epharoditus was a faithful minister of the church in Phillippi who had come to Rome to help Paul out. He became very ill and almost died, but God sparred him according to Philippians 2 so that neither Paul nor the church would go through the agony of his loss. In 2 Timothy 4 Paul said he had left Trophamus in Melitus sick. Even Paul had a thorn in the flesh that was said to be from Satan and sent from God to keep him humble. When he prayed for it to be removed, God told him that he wouldn’t remove it because his strength was made perfect in weakness. Paul then said he gloried in his weakness knowing when he was weak, he was strong.
Sickness, poverty, despair and death may certainly come from the devil. But they aren’t always from the devil. In reality Jesus more often used those who were poor in this world as his spiritual heroes and pictured the rich as those who had gone far from God. Jesus even said that it was hard for a rich man to be saved, that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved.
Healing is from God. It is no less from God when it is accomplished through doctors and medicine than it is when it is accomplished directly through prayer. God uses different means and methods to bring about healing. It is true that he works through the prayers of godly people to bring about healing at different times. But it must be remembered that God in his love and grace may answer our prayers with a “No” just as much as he may answer with a “Yes”. Our challenge is to trust God in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in good times and bad and when things seem to us to go right and when they go wrong. Satan has always been one of the greatest imitators of God. He transformed himself into an angel of light. When the man of sin is revealed according to 2 Thessalonians 2 he will perform miracles, signs and wonders. When we don’t love the truth and have pleasure in unrighteousness we may receive a strong delusion to believe a lie and be condemned.
Should we be praying for healing in our world? Yes, but don’t limit your prayers to just physical healing. We need to be praying for the healing of nations as well as of certain people. We need to pray for spiritual healing even more than for physical healing. We need to pray for healing of the church from its spiritual weakness and shallow thinking. A world around us is lost, in need of God and his gospel message. Let’s pray for the opening of doors for the gospel to be preached to all people.