We live in a broken world. The effects of sin wreak havoc upon every facet of the cosmos, including our bodies. This is not to say that we are without hope. For the cross of Christ gives us the hope to carry on. Yet we still have to face the fallenness of our world, often in the ways of physical imperfection, from chronic illnesses to common colds.
How are we to deal with these realities? How are we to pray for our loved ones, our family and our friends? Do we pray for healing? Do we assume sickness is punishment?
Many questions abound in my mind about health. Many answers are found in Scripture.
Look with me at the small book of 3rd John, and specifically John’s greeting and prayer for his dear friend Gaius.
Dear friend I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually. – 3 John 2
These types of wishes for good health were not at all uncommon openings to ancient Greek letters in the time of John. John goes beyond just the standard wish though, proclaiming that not only does he care for Gaius’ soul (spiritual health), he also prays for his physical health with the understanding that our bodies are held in the sovereign hands of the Lord.
Some believe that Gaius was in poor health when John wrote him this letter. Regardless of whether or not this is true, John loved him like a brother and thus desired to see Gaius in good physical health. This prayer for good health was way more valued in their time as medical care in that day and age was often ineffective leading to diminished life expectancy.
I chuckled to myself when I realized that John was essentially saying ‘live long and prosper’ to his buddy Gaius. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not much of a Star Trek fan but I do know enough to humorously recognize how Biblical of a greeting that classic line is.
Back to the subject at hand.
I would attest given this verse, and others like it, that it is normal and encouraged to pray for the good health of those we love and care about.
Just take a glance at Jesus’ earthly ministry and you can see countless examples of Him healing the sick and in need. Our God is a Healer. He is able to save. He is mighty to save. It is Biblical and right to pray for not only good health personally, but good health for friends and family.
So what about when we pray fervently for our health to change, or for the chronic illness of a friend, and God elects not to bring physical healing?
We must hold tight to the fact that God is good, God is great, and what He does is right.
This is difficult. This is immensely difficult. We in our broken nature and limited scope do not often think about the big picture.
I woke up this morning, not with a grand view of eternity in mind, but with March 2nd, 2017 in mind. I woke up thinking about what I’d like to accomplish today, and what I need to accomplish today. With such a minute view of my world, I can see sickness in the life of a friend as a travesty and a terrible blight. Yet in the grand scope of eternity, God uses every aspect of our lives for our good and His glory.
There is not a direct correlation between sickness and personal sin. Waking up with a cold one morning is not because you didn’t pray enough that week. No, in fact, sickness and poor health can bring us closer to the Father, and into a greater understanding of His Word. Take for example these two verses from the longest Psalm.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. – Psalm 119:67
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71
When I reflect on my life, it’s easier for me to stray from God’s Word and from learning His ways when everything is peachy-keen in my world. When darkness comes creeping in from the edges or close to home, I am reminded of eternity. I am reminded of what matters. I am reminded of God’s precious Word and His ways. In a sense, these times of sickness in our lives can be for our good. The Psalmist here says it was good for him to be afflicted because it produced in him a greater attentiveness to learning the statutes of God.
Please do not read into what I’m saying. Please do not see me saying that our sicknesses are simply to draw us back in from going astray. I know countless men and women who this day are struggling with real difficult things despite amazing faith and faithfulness to the Lord throughout their lives. What I am saying, or what God’s Word is proclaiming, is that God uses every aspect of our lives to draw us closer to Him. In some cases, this means going through physical health issues for His glory.
God is good. God is great. What He does is right.
If you or a loved one is walking through sickness right now, I don’t have the perfect words to say to you. I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with praying for healing. Our God is a Healer. As you walk through this difficult journey, don’t walk through it alone. Walk in community. You may not understand why things happened the way they did this side of eternity. But hold tight to the fact that God is good, great, and He always does what is right.
My prayer is that my friends and family would live long and prosper.
I pray you do to.
In His Name,
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