101 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT HEALTH AND WEALTH
- If God punishes all people (whether Christian or not) with disease, suffering and death, could we safely say that many people in the hospitals and nursing homes are reaping the consequences of disobeying God? The context of Romans 6:23 is referring to eternal life but we cannot ignore the overall statement that death whether physical or spiritual is the consequence of sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Like we have said before, there are different camps or views concerning whether or not God inflicts us with disease as a form of chastisement or is it just a natural result of living in a fallen environment. This is such a large subject that it would be a book itself because there are so many examples of both. I do not believe there is much of a disagreement that God in the Old Testament intentionally afflicted people with sickness and all types of physical harm and death. We are reminded in the book of Numbers chapter 16 that the children of Israel became frustrated against Moses and Aaron and rebelled against them. A man named Korah led this revolt and the Lord became angry and sent a deadly plague among them. Moses and Aaron prayed to God and made atonement to God for the people trying to quickly stop this judgment but before the plague could be stopped, 14,700 people died. We also remember that God’s flood drowned the entire world when he saved Noah and his family and His fires burned up the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin. We must also not forget to mention the story of Job and the devastation that was allowed by God and even in the early life of Jesus we see that many young children were slaughtered when Herod felt threatened and attempted to kill the young King.
We can more easily comprehend the punishment for sin among those who deserve it, but we realize in our studies of the Bible that many within these accounts were innocent. There are children in each of these instances and yet the hand of the Lord is front and center at the cause or allowing it to happen and did not spare those who were without blame. Some may say that these punishments were intended toward those who were NOT God’s people as in the case of saving only Noah and his family and delivering Lot’s family from Sodom. But in the case of Korah and the children of Israel, one would think that this congregation would be considered God’s people and yet if Moses and Aaron had not fallen on their face and interceded, it seems as if God would have killed them all. Of course the story of Job is one of the most intriguing mysteries of the Bible as God’s Word says that he was blameless (not perfect) but a God fearing man that tried to do what was right yet ended up covered from head to toe in painful boils as a way of proving his loyalty. In this particular story, we need to take note that God did not initiate or directly inflict this tragic assault Himself but rather allowed Satan to do whatever he wanted to this family to test Jobs faithfulness. Yes, many servants were killed and even 10 of Jobs children died along with much of everything he owned being destroyed. In order to stay on track with trying to answer the question, let us not put all of our marbles into this one illustration but in the light of this story, we can definitely learn reverence to the sovereignty of the creator. I have heard for many years the old saying, “good God – bad devil” but in the complexity of God’s general and specific wills, we consider events as things that were made to happen and things that just happened on their own. To continue trying to answer the question, we can agree there are some people that are suffering as a punishment for their specific sin and others from the curse of the fall. In some situations, sin has opened a door for consequences that might include any number of things including death. This does not mean that God directly struck them down with a disease but rather the suffering is more like the result of how touching a hot stove burns the fingers.
So, can we think of a modern day example of God directly punishing someone with a disease? Remember this is not including us obtaining a sickness because we drank a quart of vodka every day or became infected with a sexual disease because of a promiscuous lifestyle. I am referring to God sending cancer on someone because He is angry and disappointed with them. I believe that much of the subject comes down to how we perceive the blood covenant of Jesus. Some feel that if anyone is in covenant with God and lives a holy life of obedience, that His promises of abundant life will remain active. This includes physical provision, physical healing and health and of course all spiritual blessings. This view believes that God will chastise for disobedience but would not intentionally give His child a disease as a punishment. One of the thoughts behind this logic is that it is not recorded in the ministry of Jesus where He said, “I cannot heal you because my Father is in the process of punishing you.” It is true that sin was probably the “cause” of many of the problems He healed but we find that He healed (and forgave) ALL that reached out to Him in faith. This sheds a light on the connection between sin and sickness such as in the example of the man they lowered through the roof in Mark chapter two. Jesus forgave his sins FIRST and then he was released from his paralysis and walked out. Another story that I believe is worth mentioning is found in John chapter nine. One day Jesus passed by a man that had been blind from his birth. His disciples asked Him, whose sin caused this infirmity, the man or his parents? Jesus replied, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Jesus spit on the ground and made a paste of mud and anointed his eyes and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. When he washed his eyes he could see. What do you think this was about? I personally think that many people are held in the bondages of sickness and disease and need the saints to continue accomplishing the works of Jesus. I believe the sins of omission will include Christians being told that many suffered because they did not care enough about the Lord or people to pray and reach out to help them. Many are suffering because Christians are selfish and refuse to do the work of the ministry. I personally know a saint that has given away nearly all of his fortune to the poor because he had a passion and burden to follow God’s voice. But what could I do? I do not want to get off track, but it is amazing at how much opportunity there is in every community to make a huge difference in people’s lives. The first thing we must do is become serious about our spiritual life. If we are satisfied with going to heaven then we are not going to be of any use to the Lord in this life. If we pray for a burning desire to love others, take our cross and follow Jesus, He will help us get into position to be used. If we choose to get involved with frontline ministry, do not just do the surface works and walk away, but rather pray fervently that you might be able to discern why you are there. God is in the delivering business more than He is concerned about us bringing someone a get-well card. Yes, there are people suffering in the hospitals and nursing homes because of sin and God has a beautiful plan to use us to help others find the problem and receive forgiveness. In the cases of God’s children where deterioration from old age is the problem, we can bring comfort and encouragement and for the ones who need to be saved we can be sensitive to bring the gospel and lead them into God’s mercy and grace. The question remains; who will go? Jesus is the forgiver of sin and the healer of the body, but in order for us to be His hands and feet we must be willing to forsake our will and learn the true meaning of love.
- So if we discern that someone is suffering from a sickness because God is punishing them for being disobedient, can we just walk into their room and begin praying for them to be healed? This is a good question and one that is very seldom talked about. I think one reason it is not discussed is because there is very little praying for the sick at all. The concept of walking in the Spirit is to be understood that God is in control and has a perfect detailed plan for everyone. It only makes sense that all of God’s people need to be on the same page with Him which is a focus of being in one accord. We talk about unity all the time but the point of the saints standing together is that all of us are seeing HIS vision and listening to HIS voice. The idea has nothing to do with all of us agreeing about what we think but rather what He desires. I confess that I have been guilty of mindlessly praying for anyone and anything just because I thought it was a noble gesture. However, if we really sit and meditate on the big picture of prayer we can clearly see that we are NOT to just pray for what we want accomplished and this includes whatever seems to be a great idea for others. If anybody knew how to pray, it was Jesus. He knew how God thinks because Heis God: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus demonstrated a pattern throughout His prayer life that all of us can and should copy. When obedience to Him becomes our highest priority, we will begin to realize what Jesus was talking about when He emphasized about bringing his desires in line with his Father’s desires. When we reach the place where we can HEAR God’s will instead of our own opinions, we have reached the turning point in our relationship with Him and this is the key to knowing how to pray when we walk into situations like an intensive care unit. We know that God is involved with people’s lives and wherever they are in the miracle process, it is crucial that we at least know enough about what is going on to NOT get in the way. Accepting God’s will over our own is difficult especially when we are not convinced it is the right thing. Our emotions try to pull us and persuade us to see life through the physical realm and this can be very deceiving and confusing. Remember that repentance will break the chains of sin and open the doors to deliverance and healing, so pray for wisdom and do not be anxious to jump into the middle of a situation. Divine appointments are awesome as long as we remember that He knows exactly when, where and how He wants everything to happen.