To get the exercise accountability out of the way before the interesting stuff ... rode my bike to and from prayer meeting last night, and had a lovely long paddle in the pool around 9:00 pm after all the noisy folks went home. :)
Carol and I have been discussing the idea of God's healing people (physically), and it's given me some interesting food for thought.
2 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.
34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
In other places, it says the Lord healed "all". But here, and again in Mark 3, it says He healed "many". Why not all?
We know that God heals spiritually -- all who ask Him - without qualification
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And I see that sometimes He heals physically -- in James, God even gives us a picture of how we are to ask for healing:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
*the sick person requests it to happen
*the elders go them ... it's private
*they prayed and anointed with oil in the Lord's name
Some will be healed physically here on earth. Others will be healed when they are freed from their suffering by death, and step into God's presence. But either way, they will be healed.
I know of cancer that was suddenly "not there" ... and terminal diagnoses (is that the plural spelling? don't remember!) that were changed to treatable ones.
But I also know of some godly ones who slowly descended into the mist of Alzheimers, and others who lost their bodies to ALS. I've read books by great men and women of faith that were written from sickbeds, and despite great suffering.
What's the difference? Why do some of God's people regain health, and others suffer for decades?
It can't be the amount or quality of their faith ... faith is a fruit of the Spirit ... a gift of God ... and to say that someone remains ill because of lack of faith is a terrible condemnation, not only of them, but of God Himself.
We see people in the Scriptures whom God allowed (or even caused!) to suffer physical affliction.
When God's angel wrestled with Jacob -
Ge 32:25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
Ge 32:31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.
For the rest of his life, Jacob bore that limp as a reminder of that night.
He says that some afflictions, He made:
Ex 4:11 The LORD said to him, "Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
Our natural way of thinking rebels against this! Why would He allow this?
Why did Job suffer in such a fashion, and never know the cause?
He doesn't always tell us! But He does say that
Isa 63:9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
He suffers alongside the sufferer.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
We know that our suffering has purpose. It "works together for good" ... and what is that "good"? It's in verse 29 - it conforms us into the image of His Son. There's a reason that so much great ministry was born in times of pain ... it's in those times that we meet with God.
Our suffering allows us to comfort others who suffer:
2Co 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
Our sufferings become a stream of refreshment to those who follow behind us:
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca (weeping), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
I suppose that's enough for today ... I've already written more than most people would want to read ... but I'm thankful for the chance to think about these things. It's when I'm healthy that I need to prepare my heart for dark times ...There are treasures hidden in those dark times, and I need to be ready to mine them:
Isa 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
In closing, a list of those who come to mind whose physical illnesses have been used to give God glory, and encourage others:
Fanny Crosby (blindness),
Joni Erickson Tada (paralysis),
William Cowper (crippling depression),
Charles Spurgeon (gout, exhaustion, depression),
Amy Carmichael (bedridden for decades following a fall),
Frances Havergal (never have figured out what made her so sick, bedridden for much of her life),
as well as some nameless dear ones, currently in my life, whose names are unknown to the world, but whose sufferings are right this very second precious to God, and a testimony for Him.