Friday, February 21, 2014

Healing and Healers Part 1

I often have people question me about friends and people they know who are suffering.  They don’t understand why their friend or loved one is going through whatever it is that is happening “to them.” It is one of the “Why God?” questions that comes up often.  How ought we as Christians respond?

I never tell a person that I know why they are suffering.  God has not given me that knowledge.  I do make people aware of some of the following material so that they can think about the issues from a more biblical perspective.  There may well be more explanations than I write about.  This subject may very likely require a few posts to deal with the many issues involved.  Stay tuned!  But for now – well here goes!

The big reason many people jump at for an explanation is that the person afflicted is in some type of sin and that this is the punishment involved.  We certainly have many illustrations in scripture of people being judged for their sin.  Miriam became a leper in Numbers 12 for her complaining about Moses.  The children of Israel were bitten by snakes in Numbers 21 for speaking against God.  Instances of this type can be easily multiplied.

The problem is that this is not the only cause for suffering.  I often think of the man born blind in John 9.  Look at this amazing interchange:  Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

This grown man had suffered his entire life for at least one incredibly significant purpose.  People have spoken of this man for over 2,000 years.  He suffered so “that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Christ did his works so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” The prophesy was that the Messiah would in the words of Isa 35:5  “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped” open the eyes of the blind. This man’s blindness helped demonstrate that Jesus was indeed the Christ! Basically the point is – no sin here, God chose to be revealed specifically in this man.

I love the book of Job.  Job loses everything – family, fortune, and especially respectability.  It’s hard to look or feel respectable when your scraping your sores with broken pottery {Job 2:8} and your breath is offensive to your wife {Job 19:17}.  Job was being tested for his faithfulness.  Generations have read his story, felt his pain, and learned from his experience.  Far from being punished for his sin, Job was made an example of faithfulness to God’s people for millennia.  The thing I personally find so amazing is that, in this life, Job never knew why things were happening to him.

Paul was an incredibly effective and important apostle.  He laid hands on and healed many.  Even his used tissue was used to bring healing in Acts 19:11-12.  Yet he relates in 2Co 12:7-9  “ And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul had a physical problem given to keep him humble.
Let’s look at what James has to say:  Jas 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Our trials are there to teach us.  We would not be who or what we are without the trials that God uses to perfect us.

I could go on but I hope you get the idea.  There are many reasons why people suffer.  I tell people with pain or medical issues to seek appropriate help.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I don’t try to play Holy Spirit and tell them why they may me suffering.  I do however point them to passages in scripture for their own edification.  I hope this is helpful.  Lord willing, There will be more to come.

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