Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
November 23, 1998
Last Updated :
July 6, 2011
Apostle Paul's Faith And Determination To Witness In Rome, Our Ordeal: Daughter Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, My Desperate Prayers And Self-Incrimination, No Miracle Occurs, God Is Both The Destroyer Healer And Giver Of Life, Will The Son Of Man Find Faith On The Earth?, Personal Faith, Honesty, I'd Rather Die Trusting In God, When Children Become Victims, Either We Have Faith Or We Don't, Was It God Or The Doctors? Miracles Occur When All Other Options Fail, God's Ear Is Not Heavy, When Our Faith Is Not Enough, God's Pity And Mercy, Faith Comes By The Word, Test The Lord And Prove Our Faith, God Sometimes Tests Our Faith, Woman With An Issue Of Blood, Naaman Healed Of Leprosy In Jordan River By Prophet Elisha, Obey The Lord, Ask In Faith And God May Grant Your Petition, Death Is Our Common Destiny, My Dear Grandmother's Departure, Dilemma: Should We Pray For Healing Or For A Quick Death?, Bone Cancer And The Pastor's Wife, The Corinthian Problem
That is the kind of faith the Lord expects His children to have. In the case of the Apostle Paul, he was so convinced that it was God's Will for him to go to Rome in order to be a witness to the royalty there, that he knew that absolutely nothing was going to stand in his way, or prevent him from accomplishing his goal; not the evil machinations of the unbelieving Jews; not a shipwreck on the island of Malta, and certainly not a poisonous viper hidden in the fire wood. Perhaps that is why his faith was so strong, despite the expectation of the islanders that he would soon be dead.
Lord help us all to have that same kind of unwavering faith. I most certainly include myself in this admonishment, and recognize that despite my knowing the Lord, and despite the fact that I have studied His Word for so many years now, I apparently do not possess that kind of faith. As I briefly mentioned in part one, not quite ten years ago, at the age of eleven, my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As you can imagine, I was really heartbroken and devastated upon learning of her condition. I could not understand why a child who loved the Lord as much as she did, who read and studied the Bible on a daily basis, and who was a faithful witness to her friends and teachers at school, was afflicted with a life-sapping disease such as Diabetes Mellitus.
As any Christian parent would do, I felt a sense of guilt, and began to point the finger at myself. Had I failed to take proper care of her? Did my neglect bring on her Diabetes? Was it possible that God was using her to punish me for my sins? To this day, I am still not certain why the Lord has allowed this to happen in our lives. For months after her diagnosis, I desperately prayed and earnestly asked the Lord to deliver my daughter from her affliction. I hoped for a Miracle. But, as the months passed, and no Divine Healing was manifest, I gradually came to realize that for whatever His reasons, the Lord apparently didn't have plans to heal my daughter of her Diabetes; not then, and still not today ten years later. For more on this topic, please consider reading "Why Doesn't God Heal Me?".
The Holy Scriptures plainly inform us that our God has power over life and over death. He has the power to create, as well as the power to destroy. He has the power to heal whomsoever He will, and He has the power to wound. He created the first man and the first woman. He wiped out His First Creation with a Flood. He slew the firstborn in Egypt. He healed Naaman the army captain of the King of Syria. He healed King Hezekiah of Judah. He placed a baby in the womb of a virgin named Mary. He smote King Herod with worms so that he died. He smote Paul with blindness for three days. He has healed, or killed, many people down through the ages without the need for any kind of human intervention whatsoever. Consider the following verses:
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"
Deuteronomy 30:19, KJV
"See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand."
Deuteronomy 32:39, KJV
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Revelation 1:18, KJV
"And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."
Exodus 15:26, KJV
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5, KJV
Despite His wonder and His might, look at how we all cower in unbelief when it comes to matters of faith and expecting great things from the Almighty. Look at how we try to excuse ourselves by foolishly claiming that He has transposed His Power to mortal men and women who work in worldly hospitals and other health care facilities. Sadly, the Lord Himself saw this day coming. He knew full well that the time would arrive when faith would indeed be weak upon the Earth. In one of His Parables that is found in the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said in part to His Disciples:
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8b, KJV
If you are one who has found it necessary to resort to the modern medical profession during your time of need, please understand that I do not share these Scriptural truths with you in order to condemn you, or to criticize your decision. Who knows; I may have done the very same thing had I been in your situation. In fact, when it comes to physical pain, I'm a coward. When I get a bad toothache, I run to the dentist to get it taken care of as soon as possible. And, as I have already said, if it weren't for modern medicine, my daughter would no doubt be dead by now.
As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, and as the Apostle Paul wisely advises us in his discussion of meat eaters and vegetarians, we must all live and believe according to our own degree of faith. I cannot have faith for you, and you cannot have faith for me. Consider these verses:
"Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you."
Matthew 9:29, KJV
". . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind . . . Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Romans 14:5b, 22-23, KJV
The main purpose of my comments is simply to motivate all of us to be honest with ourselves, as well as with our Creator. Instead of hypocritically pretending to have faith, let's just humbly admit that we really don't; which is why we've chosen to seek medical attention in the first place. One of the potential dangers of pretending to have faith, or perhaps deceiving ourselves into thinking that we have faith, is that it can have very serious consequences for people who are not able to make decisions for themselves. In particular, I am thinking of young children.
As I write this, I am reminded of heartbreaking stories which occasionally appear in the news, where Christian parents have refused to take their sick children to the hospital, because they claim to have had faith that God would heal them. It is so sad to read such stories. Not only do the children have no say in the matter, but sometimes they die unnecessarily, as a result of the parents' insistence that they not see a doctor.
Believe me; I fully understand the mentality of "I'd rather die trusting in God". However, in my view, it is one thing to take that kind of a stance for yourself, and quite another to make that kind of a decision for your children. My advice is this:
Before any Christian parent decides to not seek medical attention for their very sick children, stop and think about the serious legal consequences you will face if your child should die. While you may look at it as a matter of faith and trusting in God, in the eyes of the world, your actions will no doubt be viewed as a matter of gross parental neglect. In short, unless you are absolutely certain, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has intentions of healing your child, please plan a visit to your family physician. Please remember what I shared earlier. God does not require days, weeks or months to heal a person. If He intends to perform a Divine Healing, then it will be done immediately, just like in the Bible.
To sum up my thoughts on this issue, it is this: There is no such thing as trying to have faith. You either really have it, or else you really don't. Are you willing to gamble with the life of your child in order to find out where you really stand in the area of faith? Could you bear to have the death of your child on your hands because your faith turned out to be bogus?
Returning to the issue of Divine Healing and the medical profession, as I noted earlier, none of us can claim with any degree of confidence that the Lord healed us of cancer or some other life-threatening illness, when we just spent the last few weeks in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy or some other treatment. That is not relying on the Healing Power of God; it is placing our faith in the medical skills, knowledge and wisdom of men, just like the desperate woman who Jesus healed of an issue of blood, after she wound up broke, gave up on the doctors and sought out the one true Great Physician.
So again I ask: Why are we praying "Lord, please anoint the doctor's hands", when He really expects us to have faith directly in Him? Why are we insisting through our own lack of faith that the Almighty God of the Universe humble Himself and work through mere humans?
By now, the dilemma should be clear to you. How can we really determine if it was actually the Lord who miraculously healed us, or if it was really the chemotherapy which destroyed the cancerous growth in our body? Did we really throw ourselves out on the limb of faith before we chose to see a doctor? Did we honestly give God a fair chance to work before we sought medical help? Sadly, in most cases, probably not; because our faith is really in modern science and medicine. Why does the Lord need to work through doctors in order to kill the cancer cells? Where in the Bible does it say that He needs several weeks or months to shrivel up a cancerous tumor?
As we have already seen, according to the Scriptures, that is not the way the Lord operates. His Miracles are instantaneous events which leave absolutely no doubt as to who brought them about. Miracles occur when all other options have failed, and only God can receive the credit and the glory. Furthermore, true Miracles often result in positive fruit for the Kingdom of God. In the Book of Isaiah, the Lord clearly tells us that His ear is not heavy that He cannot hear, nor His hand short that it cannot save, as we see here:
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:"
Isaiah 59:1, KJV
Clearly then, the problem must be with us, and not with the Lord. The problem must be our lack of faith, and not God's ability to heal.
Despite everything that I have shared thus far, there will undoubtedly be some people who will continue to insist that they believe that God uses modern medical professionals in order to perform His Miracles, even though doing so robs Him of the credit. These people will continue to insist that the Lord must operate according to their degree of faith and not according to the excellency of His Power. On the other hand, many of us also have relatives who do not know the Lord as we do. In such cases, perhaps God does not expect as much of them in matters of faith, as He does of us, His own children. In thinking about these situations where our faith is not as strong as it should be, the following two verses immediately come to mind:
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him."
Psalms 103:13, KJV
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
Mark 9:23-24, KJV
As I point out in other articles, the Lord's Mercy is truly great. I am sure that we can all identify with the poor man in the previous verse when it comes to matters of faith. We really do want to believe in the Lord's promises of healing; and we try to manifest our faith in the same; but sometimes it just isn't there; or it simply just isn't enough. In such cases, just like this man, all we can do is look up into the compassionate eyes of the Lord, and plead with our own eyes and voice, that He will forgive us, have mercy upon us, and not be offended by our lack of faith. We hope that the Lord realizes that we are not purposely trying to displease Him.
Although I cannot prove this point scripturally, perhaps in some rare cases, as a result of the pity and mercy which the Lord has towards us, He actually will reach down and touch a certain operation that is being performed, in order to make sure that it proceeds properly. Perhaps He will even perform a Miracle of Divine Healing, even though He may never get the credit for it. I honestly don't know. As we read in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV
Normally, however, I believe that the Lord holds His children to stricter guidelines concerning matters of faith. We either have faith for healing, or else we don't; and the only way to get it, as the Apostle Paul tells us, is through a diligent study of God's Word:
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:17, KJV
Faith is simply not something which we can create through any kind of human energy or endeavor. As we have already seen, we can't pretend to have faith when we really don't. Once the precious seed of faith does sprout in our hearts through our study of His Word, the Lord expects us to put our faith into action, as the Apostle James tells us in this verse:
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
James 2:26, KJV
So we have to put our faith into action, and actually prove our faith to the Lord. In the case of Divine Healing, this may require putting ourselves out on the proverbial limb. We have to really be desperate for healing, and put God's Word to the test. As the Lord says through the Prophet Malachi, He expects us to prove Him now. Not only that, but He informs us that blessings are dependent upon our obedience -- in this case, bringing in the tithes first -- as I mentioned earlier:
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10, KJV
Just as God likes us to test Him and to prove the reliability of His Word, He sometimes will also test our faith in order to see how much we really believe in His promises, before He will grant us our petition. We saw an example of this in part one where a woman had an issue of blood for twelve years. As a test of the woman's faith, the Lord asked publicly who had touched Him; and the woman came forth and made a confession of faith. She put her faith into action in two ways; first by reaching to touch the border of Jesus' garment, and then by publicly confessing what she had done. As a result, the Lord openly rewarded her by healing her of her affliction.
Another classic example of irrefutable Divine Healing can be found in a man by the name of Naaman. As I explain in the article "Are The Gifts Of The Spirit For Today?", Naaman was the captain of the army of the king of Syria. His problem is that he suffered from leprosy, as we see here:
"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper."
2 Kings 5:1, KJV
As the story continues to unfold, a young Jewish girl, who was brought as a captive to Syria, and who now serves as a slave to Naaman and his wife, inform's Naaman's wife that the Prophet Elisha is in Samaria, and that he could very easily heal Naaman of his affliction, as we see here:
"And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."
2 Kings 5:2-3, KJV
In the next scene, with the blessing of the king, as well as with a reward for Elisha the Prophet, Naaman travels down to Israel. Upon hearing Naaman's request, the king of Israel suspects that it is a trap in order to give the Syrian king a good reason to once again wage war against Israel, as we read here:
"And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me."
2 Kings 5:5-7, KJV
Eventually, Elisha the Prophet receives word of Naaman's request. His response is to send a messenger to the Syrian with the following unusual instructions. As you will see, this was the Lord's test of faith for Naaman:
"And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
2 Kings 5:10, KJV
Upon hearing the Prophet's unusual message, not only is the Syrian captain of war disappointed, but he is also angry, as he had expected Elisha to come in person and perform a great Miracle for him. He is also upset because Elisha tells him to wash in the Jordan River, instead of in one of the rivers of Syria, as we read here:
"But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage."
2 Kings 5:11-12, KJV
After receiving wise counsel from his servants, Naaman the proud warrior finally decides to humble himself, and follows Elisha's instructions by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River. Upon coming up out of the water the seventh time, he is completely healed of his leprosy, as we see by these verses:
"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."
2 Kings 5:13-14, KJV
So as you can see, while the Lord may be eager to grant you your petition -- such as a request for Divine Healing -- He may decide to put you to the test first. If you truly have faith in the Promises that are found in His Word, and if you are truly walking uprightly before Him -- blessings depend a lot on our personal obedience to the Lord -- He may indeed choose to heal you. He may grant you the petitions that you desire of Him, if they are good for you, and if they are a part of His Will for your life. Consider the following verses:
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
1 John 5:14-15, KJV
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8, KJV
"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."
James 1:6-7, KJV
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalms 37:4, KJV
"The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing."
Psalms 34:10, KJV
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
Psalms 84:11, KJV
As I stated at the beginning of this series, our pilgrimage on the Earth is but a brief flash on the Eternal Timescale; which is predetermined by God, who made all things for His own glory and pleasure. Whether we live almost a thousand years like the Patriarchs of old, or only sixty to ninety years as at our current time, as the writer of Ecclesiastes informs us, eventually, every one of us will meet the same common destiny -- physical death -- unless of course Jesus should choose to return during our lifetime:
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, KJV
As we have also seen, it is in these final years just before death comes to greet us, that our "earthen vessel" gives us the most problems. Our clothing of flesh begins to wear out, to become unreliable, and to fall apart. It is at times like these that many people seek medical attention of one kind or another, in order to repair themselves as much as is humanly possible.
It is just such an incident which motivated me to write the original version of this series in November of 1998. During that year, my own dear paternal grandmother -- who was going on eighty-seven years old at the time -- underwent a series of four hip surgeries. Obviously, the operations were not easy on her tired old body. On one occasion, I was informed that she was very close to death due to severe hemorrhaging. This development resulted in the need for her to receive a blood transfusion. Despite her advanced age, she survived the ordeal, and was sent home to recuperate.
During that period, my grandmother informed a close Christian friend who is a longtime member of our EDGE Mailing List, that she was convinced that it was our prayers which helped her to survive the last operation, as it was extremely difficult for her. Naturally, loving her as I do, I continually uplifted my grandmother in prayer. However, from what I have been told by other members of my family, eventually, the postoperative pain became so unbearable for her -- despite the fact that she was receiving a high dosage of morphine -- that my grandmother passed away in 1999. While I had not see her in twenty-seven years by that time, she was still very close to my heart. My last memories of her are a family video -- now lost due to time and use -- which was made by my younger brother in 1994.
During the time that my grandmother was not faring very well, I suddenly found myself facing a moral dilemma which I had never had to confront before. As I mentioned to another dear Christian friend at the time, and also briefly discuss in the article "Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, Terminal Sedation", at times it can be very difficult to know exactly how to pray for an individual who is experiencing a lot of physical pain that is caused by some dreadful disease, by an operation, or that's simply due to old age and the symptoms which accompany it. It can also be difficult to know what decisions to make when it comes to palliative care and end-of-life issues when such a person is not able to make the decisions for themself.
My dilemma was this: In the case of excruciating and terminal pain, should we pray for Divine Healing, or should we pray for a more permanent solution by asking the Lord to take that person Home to be with Him? What is really the right thing to do in such a situation? What does the Lord expect us to do?
In her response to my thoughts, my friend related the story of a certain woman -- the pastor's wife as I recall -- who was dying from bone cancer. This poor woman was suffering so much, that the church finally got together and decided that instead of praying for a Miracle of Divine Healing, it would be better to simply pray that the Lord would take the woman Home to be with Him. Although my friend didn't realize it at the time, her words shocked me, and woke me up to a Biblical truth which I had never stopped to consider before. Like a number of my readers, I too have been influenced by former associations in my life. Because of some of the things I had been taught in the past, it seemed quite natural to tell my friend that sometimes we aren't quite sure how to pray for a certain person who is seriously sick and suffering a lot of pain.
I am thankful that the Lord used my friend's comments to stop me in my tracks; and to cause me to really question how I had come to accept such a belief. What I quickly realized is that we don't find any specific examples in the Bible where we are told to pray for God to take someone Home. I have never found any examples of this type of prayer in the many years that I have been studying the Scriptures. The only thing that even comes remotely close to this, is found in the fifth chapter of the Apostle Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians. In this particular chapter, Paul comments on a serious problem concerning fornication that is occurring in that church. In writing about a certain young man who seems to have engaged in sexual relations with his very own mother, Paul states the following:
"For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"
1 Corinthians 5:3-6, KJV
What Paul is saying in the previous verses, is that rather than permit this kind of unbridled sex to run rampant in the church's midst, like yeast in a loaf of bread, it is better to rebuke such a proud, uncontrollable person, and if need be, to commit them to the Wrath of God -- via Satan -- even if it results in the destruction of their physical body. In this way, that person will be delivered from their sins of the flesh, and the church will be spared from further sexual promiscuity occurring within the congregation. As you can plainly see, this situation is a far cry from instructing us to pray that the elderly and the sick will be delivered from their afflictions through death.
Please go to part four for the continuation of this series.
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