Faith, Healing and Sovereignty
Recently a couple of close friends of mine went through a difficult time with some fairly serious illnesses. This brought back to the forefront the age old question of Faith, Healing and Gods Sovereignty
Now before I delve to deeply into this difficult topic I need to state clearly from the outset some of my fundamental beliefs. Firstly I believe God is a sovereign God and His healing power has little to do with our abilities or our willingness to receive it.
So I don’t accept the traditional understanding of “faith Healing” like somehow God can only heal if we have faith. I’m pretty convinced that whatever God does or does not do He is capable of doing it without our help and we certainly can never take any credit for it.
… And yet, I can give examples of people I have prayed for in the past who’s attitude towards their own healing had a positive impact on the actual healing that took place, was it their faith that brought about healing, was it co-incidence? or was it just psychological in that their own positive attitude brought about their healing and God was never involved?
Interestingly in the NT there are a number of examples where Jesus directly attributed someone’s healing to their own levels of faith. such as the woman who touched His hem MT 9:20-22 to whom he said directly “your faith has made you whole” in MT 9:27-33 Jesus asked the blind men “Do you believe I am able to do this?” they said yes and he healed them saying “let it be done to you according to your faith.
Also in Mt 13 its recorded that Jesus could not do many miracles in his own time “because of their unbelief”
other times like Jairus daughter or maybe Lazarus there is no evidence of anyone having faith to believe for a miracle.
So to bring that back to today We’ve seen men and women of great faith suffer with illnesses without ever receiving their healing thus I doubt it is as simple as simply having “enough faith” I also believe that when Jesus talked about having Faith as a mustard seed he didn’t mean that to be an insult to our faith. as if every time our prayer is not answered its because we didn’t even have faith the size of a mustard seed. I think he literally meant that you don’t actually need a lot of faith at all just a tiny little bit will be enough. basically anyone can muster enough faith the see a miracle happen its not just for an elite privileged few super spiritual men and women of Faith and the rest of us are just the “must try harder” majority.
As I was driving on the motorway to an early start meeting and debating all this stuff with myself and the Lord, almost for the entire journey, it occurred to me that in the past on occasion when people have come forward for prayer for healing I may have asked them ” do you believe Jesus can Heal you?” and off course the resounding answer is always “yes I do!” but the question is, is that even a valid question? what is the intention of that question. is that meant to be a measurement of faith? and if it is not then surely the question is entirely irrelevant? I suddenly realised with a bolt of lightning that believing that God can heal me does not actually require any faith but simply an intellectual understanding of divinity and sovereign Power. I’m sure that 2000 years ago in a world of idols and false gods the fact that a God appeared who had healing power would have been a revelation and a massive leap of faith for some even though the Jews off course had a long documented history of their powerful God. Nowadays believing that God can heal is not a great stretch of faith and yet seeing actual healings take place is still not a common occurrence. So if the object lesson in seeing more people get healed is simply to have more faith then why are we not seeing more healing? After all most people believe that God can heal like the examples in the NT and we only need a tiny amount of faith for it anyway.
The second revelation I had in my trek along the M25 is that nowadays for people to believe that God is a personal God takes for greater levels of faith. God had a plan for Mankind. That plan has existed since before time began. Never has God changed or deviated from the plan there was no plan A or Plan B like the OT was plan A and the NT was plan B. Its always been the same plan. sometimes people ask me I know God has a plan for me and I am just waiting to find out what it is. Well you can be waiting a long time because the plan has been revealed and its not a new plan but the same plan its always been, which is very simply put that God devised a plan in which we mere human beings of our own free will could be in a real, living, vibrant relationship with the Almighty God. Everything that has ever happened since Time began has been leading towards that end game objective. So if God is so desperate to be in a real meaningful relationship with me then simply being able to agree intellectually that God has healing capabilities I don’t think cuts the mustard.
“…You want to be healed from your illness by the Almighty Creator of the universe? no probs repeat after me: I believe God is capable of healing me. Ok well done! thank you for that great display of faith, here is your healing!…”
So clearly its not just “faith to believe God can heal me” that brings healing also because if our faith can bring about healing then when we get healed we might become conceited and take the credit for it. If there is one thing I know God will make sure He gets all the credit for our salvation, our Healing and our Eternal life. He achieved it all without any help from us.
So what then? If not an intellectual acknowledgement of Gods Healing capabilities then what is missing?
Well first of all God wants to be in a relationship with us and He’s gone through considerable pain and struggle to achieve it. So maybe there is something about healing that is actually about bringing us closer in relationship with Him rather then just “Faith in Him”?
Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
So its all good news. he wants to prosper us, to keep us well and free from calamity that means that God not only can heal us when we are sick but WANTS to heal us. there is absolutely no thought of calamity towards us, Never does He think oh I will leave that person to be sick or I will give this person a new sickness! He wants to heal and to bless us in every way that He can. Maybe if faith plays a factor then question we should be asking ourselves is not can God heal me but does he WANT to heal me? to give an answer to the first question we simply need an intellectual understanding of Him but to be able to answer the second question we need to be in a relationship with Him. we need to understand His heart towards us, how He feels about us, and that can only come from being in a relationship with him. In fact if all we do is answer the first question we’re almost denying the goodness and loving kindness of God. Yes God can Heal me but he may not want to…!!! and that would contradict the facts in Jeremiah 29
Actually being able to truly answer the second question as “Yes I know God wants to heal me” takes courage, because it is not dependent on your healing. Believing God can heal you yet doesn’t is understandable. Believing God wants to heal you but doesn’t is a more difficult pill to swallow. maybe that is why we shy away from saying He wants to, just in case He doesn’t.
It also takes the realisation of such overwhelming love for me that He really wants to see me well and its a conviction that cannot come from any intellectual understanding but from our past experiences with Him. in other words “our relationship to date has taught me that He really wants to heal me and even this very sickness is teaching me that”. The question of our sickness and Gods healing is not a test of our faith if anything it is a test of the strength of our relationship.
Ultimately though despite how God feels about you and your healing there may be many reasons why healing does not come, we’ll just have to leave that to His own Sovereign power. At least through my sickness I can be confident even at the lowest point that If the almighty creator of the universe only thinks good things about me and has my wellbeing at heart what else do I have to worry about? live or die, well or unwell he really does have my back and that is enough for me!
If you’re sick or unwell in some way don’t try and conger up more faith for healing but start drawing closer to Him, what other choice do you have? don’t worry about the prognosis from the doctors or what they say may happen. Trust in Him who has your back and rejoice and maybe your healing will come quickly.
Phil 4:4 nails it like this “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” His sovereign power will do the right thing.