You came back! I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how last week’s devotion would be received. To my surprise, the response was HUGE! Apparently, many of us struggle to believe God because we question why He doesn’t always heal. This topic is so complex we are going to discuss it for another two weeks, because we need to understand what the Bible says about sickness, healing, and God’s role in it. Please come back next week; today’s devotion only covers part of what God has to say about healing and sickness. If you have questions after reading today’s devotion, chances are we’ll cover it in the next two weeks. For those who haven’t read last week’s devotion, I urge you to take a moment to read it (http://www.erinelizabethaustin.com/blog/when-sickness-prevails). Otherwise, this devotion will not make sense. So, are you ready to dive in?
We’ve all prayed for healing, yet few of us have gotten the answer we were hoping for. So, let me ask you a question. When you pray to be healed, what exactly are you wanting? I can hear many of you thinking “Duh!” all the way over here. I know it’s a straightforward answer, but it needs to be said. Yes, we’re praying that we will no longer be sick, but let’s take it a step further. Why are we praying this? Because being sick is hard and uncomfortable, and we want God to take away our discomfort. When we pray for healing, we are praying to be physically comfortable. Yet what if God sees something as more important than our discomfort?
I have spent years studying God’s Word. More specifically, I have studied all the references throughout Scripture about healing, and I was shocked at what I learned. The word for heal, which we see throughout the Old Testament, is rapha, and it does not in any way reference physical healing. It’s talking about the healing of our souls. If you study Hebrew, rapha actually means several things in regards to healing. The actual definition is to “to heal, become fresh, completely healed, repaired,” and my personal favorite, “purified.” When you know this, you can see how far we’ve taken Scripture out of context. In fact, one of the most misquoted verses in the entirety of the Bible is on healing. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our sins; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by His wounds we are healed.” So many people pray this verse out of context! They “claim” God’s promise to heal them from their diseases, when in fact, God’s not promised that at all. In this verse, the word healed means “to be completely healed,” and the language in the passage indicates it’s talking about being forgiven. As wonderful of a thought it is that God would heal us from our chronic illnesses, to me, the verse is so much more beautiful when you truly understand what it’s saying. It’s saying “God loves you so much, He sent His Son to be beaten, whipped, and hung on a cross to forgive you of your sins. He wants your soul to be healed.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I find that mind-boggling. For years, I was angry because I thought God wasn’t fulfilling His promises to heal me. I thought being sick meant God didn’t love me. And I was mistaken! Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to ask God to heal us, and we should. However, we need to be prepared for whatever His answer may be. God does heal people, but it’s not His first priority. Even Jesus, who often healed people, didn’t focus on the healing. His priority was always on a person’s soul, and although it’s not a popular thought, the number of people He didn’t heal is far greater than the number of those He did. In John 5:1-17, when Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, he only healed one person, when it clearly says in verse 3 that there “lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that God causes you to be sick. Sickness and health problems are a part of living in a broken, sin-filled world, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t Jehovah-Rapha, “The Lord who heals.” If you get sick and God doesn’t answer your prayer for healing, then God has a purpose in your sickness. God not only cares about our physical health, but He cares about our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Sometimes, in order for us to be healed in other areas of our lives, we have to be physically uncomfortable. I can honestly say that after being sick for over fifteen years, I’m a completely different person. God has healed areas in my life that I didn’t even realize were broken. Even though being sick is hard, I can honestly look back at all I’ve been through and be thankful because God has changed my life in ways I never imagined. He's used me, not in spite of my chronic illness, but because of it. There’s an old song by the Gaither’s called “He Touched Me.” I love the chorus when it says, “He touched me. Oh, He touched me. And oh, the joy that floods my soul. Something happened, and now I know. He touched me, and made me whole.”[i] God’s priority is for us to be whole. He is working in each of our lives, but it may look different than what we imagined. Some of the greatest stories in life are about transformation. God is in the process of transforming each of us to bring about a complete healing, from the inside out.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:38-39
© March 8, 2017