#185 – SICKNESS AND HEALING (4/9/20)
If you missed Sunday's broadcast, please catch up by following the link below. (For the foreseeable future, we will be running our Sunday morning services digitally. Please go to our website on Sundays at 10:30 to join in)
I don’t know what you believe about sickness and healing, but you will be on a spectrum from Jesus doesn’t heal today, right through to Jesus always heals everyone.
Texts like ours today help to rid us of super-spiritual visions of early church life where we envision it as power and freedom all the time. Paul writes,
‘For he (Epaphroditus) longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.’ (Philippians 2: 26-30)
Epaphroditus nearly died from a sickness. Even the Apostle Paul’s faith and ministry could not keep this man from sickness. I also want you to notice the way that Paul speaks about his healing: he writes of God having mercy on him in healing him; it is God who heals and He continues to do so! I also want you to notice that Paul says that Epaphroditus ‘risked his life’; In this context, Paul is saying, ‘in going on this mission to help me, he risked becoming sick and dying’. Christians get sick and do die from sickness, not due to a lack of faith and understanding but because we live in a fallen world.
Surely, some people say, that Jesus took our sickness on the cross and so I can walk in healing now if I have faith. Well, if you want to use that kind of logic, we could also say that Jesus took our sin and the effects of sin in the universe upon himself on the cross so why do we still struggle with temptation and environmental degradation?
A biblical vision of healing is that God heals today as we seek Him in prayer, so let’s pray, trusting in God’s ability to heal. However, sometimes God does not heal when we ask and we must trust Him at such times. Terry Virgo has written,
‘We live in a fallen world and the perfect has not yet come (1 Cor. 13:10). Life is full of unanswered mysteries and the book of Job instructs us that there is an unseen world, and unperceived battles are being fought and victories won that are far from obvious on the surface. God is greatly glorified not only by robust faith as we see breakthroughs but also by our submissive trust when nothing seems to be happening.’
Some of you are bound up with guilt and self-doubt because you have been told that if you have faith you, or someone you’re praying for, should be healed. The Father wants to release you from this. Of Course, faith is important, as we read in the Gospel of Mark,
‘He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.’ (Mark 6:5)