By: Rev. Nathan Hill
There is considerable interest in the topic of divine healing amongst Christians of most any denomination. While there are those that disagree with God’s desire to heal people here and now, in times of crisis I have rarely seen a Christian person NOT pray for healing, suggesting that it is not a theologically sound idea.
As I have navigated the waters of divine healing over the years I have heard many ideas for and against and I have disagreed with some of the voices on both sides of the argument. Throughout the years I have also seen people prayed for and healed. Indeed I have prayed for people and have seen them healed. Many other times I have not seen them healed.
What do we make of all of this then? Does God heal or doesn’t he? Is it normal and expected or not? Should we ‘get people’s hopes up’ that God might heal them and risk a drastic let down? How will this affect their perspective on God after the fact?
I think that I finally have some answers for these questions. Biblically speaking, humanity was created in wholeness, without disease and decay. We were given direct access to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, as the biblical narrative tells us. Essentially, humanity had the opportunity to be perpetually renewed through access to God, the giver of life. Something catastrophic took place, and humanity was placed at a distance from this Tree of Life…at a distance positionally, relationally, and spiritually. This is where disease and death entered into human existence.
If we fast-forward to the end of all things as described in the Bible, we find a dramatic renewal of this Garden of Eden state; the coming of the kingdom of God as Scripture describes it. At this time our imperfectness will be made perfect and sickness and pain will be removed (Rev 21:4). This will be a literal heaven on earth situation where humanity’s relationship with the life giver, with God himself, will be unhindered once again. The kingdom of God (or of heaven, depending on the biblical author) will have come to stay.
Humanity finds itself today living between this “Garden of Eden” state and the complete coming of the Kingdom of God. Many important things have happened spiritually throughout the past thousands of years and it seems that we are approaching a time when death, disease and decay will be removed from all of human existence…but we are not fully there yet. So, where do we stand in terms of God’s healing here and now, even today?
LIKE A MOVIE TRAILER?
Lets consider for a moment that the approaching Kingdom of God is like a movie that is highly anticipated but not yet released. For example, the sequel to the movie “Hunger Games” is highly anticipated by many people. Prior to the release we will see posters, trailers, and advertisements…all aimed to stir some measure of passion and anticipation for the movie. In fact, the purpose of a movie trailer is to give you just enough of a taste of the movie to keep you wanting and anticipating the day when the full movie will finally be released.
I believe that we are living in a day when the Kingdom of God is breaking in here and there with evidence of divine healing and a number of spiritual gifts and manifestations with the purpose of pointing us to the coming merger of the present world with the coming Kingdom of God. What we can expect from God today is a regular ‘breaking in’ of the Kingdom of God just like a movie trailer would crop up here and there to show us a little piece of what the movie will be all about once it is released. This is actually quite biblical when we read what John the Baptist said about Jesus (“…the Kingdom of heaven has come near” Matt 3:2) and what Jesus himself says in the Lord’s Prayer (“…thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”). These and many other Scriptures point to the approaching Kingdom of God that is indeed breaking in but has not yet completely arrived.
With these thoughts in mind we are better suited to answer the questions I posed earlier.
Does God heal or doesn’t he? Yes, God heals, even today.
Is it normal and expected or not? Everyone will not be healed in this present day, although we should not place limits on what God may decide to do in our life or our church.
Should we ‘get people’s hope up’ that God might heal them and risk a drastic let down? We should teach people what the Scriptures say about healing and then invite them to the truth of God in this life whether they are healed or not.
How will this affect their perspective on God after the fact? I am sure that some will scoff at the fact that all are not healed. I am sure that some will suggest that it is because God is not that great and the whole thing is a farce. I think, however, that in some matters (such as this one) God is big enough to defend himself and will do so in good time.
I have a few other thoughts on divine healing that I want to share and I will do so in the coming weeks. For now, think about this: when you see the Kingdom of God breaking in here and there but maybe not where you are at the moment, do not get discouraged and assume there is something defective about your faith, about your church, or about your pastoral leadership. Rather, rejoice that the Kingdom of God is active in our world. Celebrate with those who are healed and make the name of Jesus famous. And…never, ever loose the hope that God’s Kingdom can indeed break into your life and into your church at any moment of any day.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.