One lie the “father of all lies” wants us to believe is that if we really were a good Christian, we would have enough faith to be healed from our disease or disability. And believe me, there are plenty of “good Christians” who are willing and anxious to tell you just that. Does anybody besides me know these people? They seem to be in every church body. My own sister, who is a wonderful pastor’s wife and is suffering from some pretty serious ailments herself, voiced to me recently that she sometimes feels that if she were just a better Christian and had enough faith, God would deliver her from her afflictions. I have seen very godly people confidently say that God would heal them, and chuck all forms of conventional medicine relying on their own faith while their bodies deteriorate at breakneck speed and they suffer much more than they have to and get to the point of no return.
God wants us to use the resources He has provided, such as traditional medicine and doctors. God is not against physicians. Luke himself was a physician. In Matthew 9, verse 12, we see that Jesus said, “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” If Jesus did not approve of relying on doctors, would He have given this illustration?
But Christian, please listen! God has even given us an example in the Bible of a great Christian, Paul, who was not healed by God and for good reason. He may heal some people miraculously, but it is not always His will to heal every Christian. Your faith has to line up with God’s will.
I am speaking of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” that is mentioned in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. But let’s review what he says about it, starting with verse 7: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
No one knows for sure what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. But from what we see in Galatians 4:13-15 it looks like it was a physical ailment, “Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” Many scholars have used that last sentence to indicate that it was possible Paul had very poor eyesight.
Whatever it was that afflicted Paul, he pleaded with the Lord to take it away. Paul, one of the greatest Christians ever, asked something of the Lord, and did not receive it. Now I am not saying that anyone who is a lesser Christian than Paul certainly cannot expect God to heal them of their afflictions. It is natural to ask that any illness or disability be removed from our lives, and sometimes God does grant healing. But what I am saying is that God isn’t our magic genie. We can’t treat Him like we have Him in a magic lamp, and then just rub the side every now and then when we want to make a request and poof! It is answered. God may still choose to heal, but in this case Paul realized, as a mature Christian would, that it was an advantage to God’s work and went on to say that he would take pleasure in infirmities for Christ’s sake.