Will God Heal Me?
James 5:14,15 Is anyone among you sick? … The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick…
I am afraid of writing on this passage, as I would rather skip over a topic than get it wrong. I am afraid of getting it wrong, as I know what some of you are going through. I know something of your cancer, of your illnesses and I know some of your personal struggles. I would like to skip this passage, but of course, I cannot. So, here goes.
At first glance, it seems that James is saying that if I am sick, all I have to do is follow a list of specific instructions (call the church elders, anoint with oil, pray) and healing will be guaranteed. This however, opposes the reality that we know that everyone eventually dies and no one physically lives forever. Even Lazarus died again. So, while I do not understand how and why God heals sometimes, I do understand what this passage does not mean. It does not guarantee physical healing for all physical ailments.
I tend to divide the world into that which God does and that which just happens on its own. When someone dies of a cancer, I seem to think that God just chose not to intervene. In doing so, I miss the reality that the entire world’s existence is constantly dependent on God’s hand. There is no part of the universe that runs independently of God. Whether or not I use language that He causes cancer or allows it is beyond this discussion. My point is that God made the world and the laws governing the world. He is behind it all and when someone dies of cancer, it is not because God was not there. God is always present.
It is appointed for man to die once (Hebrews 9:27). We were all born into a fallen world. We will all get sick and we will all eventually die. This sickness and death usually does not happen according to our timing or plan and is almost always painful. James words, I do not think guarantee the opposite. This is how God made the world and it is our reality. That God at times miraculously intervenes seems to be the exception but that does not mean he is absent in the normal course of our lives and deaths.
Whether or not an individual is physically healed is a mystery to me. I do know however that God always spiritually heals those who come to him in repentance. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed (5:16). God always meets our deepest needs even if we do not see it that way initially. Our deepest needs are not physical but rather spiritual as our bodies will not last an eternity but our spirits will.
Praying in faith for healing means looking to God’s will, not my own. Faith is not positive thinking. Job’s faith did not say, I believe in God really hard so He just has to heal me. Job’s faith said, Though he slay me, I will hope in him (Job 13:15). Job was of course temporarily healed but death caught up with even him eventually. Job knew that faith meant our hope is in God’s eternity and not in our own temporal existence.
Death eventually caught Lazarus and Job as it will catch us all. No amount of chemotherapy, drugs, good diet, exercise or positive thinking can hold back the inevitable forever. God does not plan that we are all healed from our physical decay. Rather, he actually plans that our spirit will eventually be set free from this body of death. He does however, will that we give him our pain and in him find the peace and comfort that we truly need. In our spiritual life, we can all be healed though in our physical life, we will all taste death.
God wills that I keep my eyes on him in faith. In him, I will receive that which I truly need. That may be miraculous healing, but more often, it means spiritual healing, which in the grand scheme of things is vastly more important.