Especially for Pastors :: January 2013

Why I’m Emboldened to Believe God Wants to Heal You
by Kevin “Mac” McClure

Many people are hurting. I lost my father and a sister to cancer. My mother died on an Alzheimer’s unit. I’ve struggled with debilitating back pain for decades. Still, I believe God wants to heal people. In fact, I think He loves to heal people.

I have a lot of reasons for believing this, but first I want to admit up front that I don’t fully understand why some of us don’t receive healing. I do not believe we further the kingdom and serve God’s purposes by shaming people who do not receive healing. We are called to weep with those who weep, not judge them. I want no part of any teaching that causes people who don’t receive healing to feel like spiritual second-class citizens. That said, I am confident that God wants us well. Even though we look through unclear glass and know only in part (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12), what I’m seeing encourages me, emboldens me to believe that God wants to make sick people well.

I acknowledge that there are many variables to the healing equation and there is no “one size fits all” approach. Maybe what I have to say won’t accomplish any more than to start a discussion. Here are sixteen reasons why I believe we need to encourage people to believe for miracles of healing. Some of my reasons will be followed by comments, some won’t. Here goes.

  1. The world before “the fall” shows God’s ideal — the world was created without sickness.
  2. God designed our bodies to fight disease.
  3. Foods God made have health benefits and healing properties.
  4. Our innate default reaction to illness is to fight it. The typical Christian has both a default reaction to sickness, namely, to do what we can to get better (go to the doctor, take medicine, etc.) and simultaneously, a reluctance to seek God for healing of the illness because we believe He gave it to us to teach us something. If we really believed the Father sent us a sickness, then why do we try to get rid of it by going to the doctor and taking medicine? Does that make sense?
  5. Since Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s will and nature (John 14:9) and since He healed 100% of the people who requested healing, some of whom were believers and some of whom were not, and since He performed many unsolicited miracles, I am emboldened to pray for healing for all.
  6. Paul prescribes the medicinal value of wine for Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23).
  7. The early church was directed by the Holy Spirit through James to pray for the sick to be healed as their default response to sickness (James 5:14-16).
  8. The judgment of God sometimes results in sickness (1 Corinthians 11: 29-30; Revelation 2:22), yet we know that judgment does not represent God’s ultimate intention for us (Lamentations 3:33; Deuteronomy 30:19).
  9. Jesus’ life and ministry remain the governing hermeneutical principle for all time, keeping in mind that He remains the same (Hebrews 13:8) and does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11).
  10. I don’t find compelling the argument that Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7b) was a sickness. The other times the Bible uses the phrase about a thorn (Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13; Judges 2:3) it is in reference to a figurative problem, namely, if the children of Israel failed to dispossess the Canaanites, these tribes would be as “thorns in your sides and pricks in your eyes.” Paul defined the thorn as a messenger (angelos) of Satan and then explains that it includes “weaknesses, insults, hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties…” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Further, Christians erroneously start where Paul ended this episode instead of starting where Paul started. He started by asking God to remove the thorn (whatever it was) and didn’t stop until He heard from God that He would impart grace sufficient to endure it. I think we need to start in the same place and not accept circumstances that God doesn’t want us to live with until we hear differently from Him.
  11. Church history has many testimonials about God’s healing mercy being ministered to believers and nonbelievers alike. Augustine’s testimony of the brother and sister who were dramatically healed of a seizure-causing disorder is compelling. After this healing his church became more intentional about praying for healing and had many documented cases of miracles of healing.
  12. I agree that spiritual health is always more important than physical health and that it is possible to have physical health and not spiritual health just as it is possible to have spiritual vitality and be sick. The value of being spiritually healthy should not preclude being physically and emotionally healthy.
  13. I agree that God uses all things to work together for good including the most ugly, painful things of life (Romans 8:28). I don’t see that this means that God is the author of the ugly, painful things. Should we encourage a repentant adulterer to believe that because God used his adultery to bring about the restoration of his marriage that God orchestrated the adultery? Peter, under the Spirit’s influence, said that the people Jesus healed were “oppressed by the devil,” not oppressed by God  (Acts 10:38).
  14. Healing is a salvation benefit (Psalm 103:1-12).
  15. The word salvation includes the idea of completeness and wholeness that extends to every part of man.

Objections and Problem Scriptures
What about Exodus 4:11? “The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”

  1. By itself this text would lead us to believe other than what I am arguing.
  2. We don’t take texts “by themselves.”
  3. We look at texts in their immediate and remote contexts.
  4. Taken together, here is what I’m seeing:

    God wants us to see and hear because that’s how He made us.

    SOMETIMES, God exercises His prerogative to judge and causes sickness. Examples are Elymas the magician (Acts 13:11) and the false prophetess Jezebel (Revelation 2:22).

    Most of the time sickness is the result of one of the following:

    The generic effects of “the fall” (Luke 13:1-5).

    Poor stewardship of our health. Read Gary Taube’s “Why We Get Fat” and you will learn that historically heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are clustered in societies that have particular eating habits.

    Satan and his demonic forces (Luke 13:11,17; Mark 9:25; Acts 10:38).

  5. Similarly, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God might lead us to think that God didn’t want to redeem Pharaoh, but we can’t consider that text without also considering Romans 1:26 and 1 Timothy 2:4-5.

When Administering Healing
When administering healing, it is advisable to pray for guidance before praying for healing so we can know precisely how to address the need. Sometimes the healing of an emotional wound will result in the healing of a bodily affliction so it may be helpful to begin with the inner needs first.

Delays in healing must not be seen as denials of healing. Jesus taught us to pray with perseverance (Luke 18:1-8). When we do not see a healing materialize, perhaps we should seek the Lord to see if there are any obstacles blocking it. Jesus’ told His followers that their own failure at prayer for healing and deliverance was hampered by their unbelief and prayerlessness (Matthew 17:20-21; Mark 9:29). Scripture also teaches us that Jesus’ healing ministry was limited by the regional unbelief of a particular geographic region (Mark 6:5).

In Conclusion
How might our health improve if we became better stewards of our own emotional and physical health? What if we were more intentional about receiving healing prayer for both our inner and our outer wounds? What if we who want to receive healing don’t obsess over it but fall more in love with the Healer instead? What if we saw the connection in the Book of Acts between gospel advancement and the healing of not-yet-saved people, and accepted that healing belongs to and is part of gospel proclamation?

Kevin McClure is the Lead Pastor at Family Room Church in Roseville, MN and the Dean of Students at The Master’s Institute.