promise of healing

With COVID still around, whatever the version, we find ourselves thinking about illness and disease. Lives lost, a considerable impact on all levels of the economy, and personal frustration for every age group are facts of the day. Actually, infirmities, disabilities, and contagions are always a reality of human life, and the Bible doesn’t ignore the topic. We find sick people (good and bad) in various circumstances and also the promise of healing.


Before getting into God’s promises to protect us from disease and heal those who do become sick, I need to say something about biblical saints—the good guys–who become ill. Job comes to mind first. It has been rightly observed that Job suffered not because he was guilty but because he was righteous. One thing he endured was disease. If you remember, Job was paid a high compliment by God: Job was his God’s single human representative in the controversy with Satan. This hostile claimed that Job was a worshipper only because God blessed him with family, wealth, and health. When God allowed Satan to destroy Job’s children and possessions, he stood firm. The devil persisted: “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 2: 4-5). Again God sent Job, this spiritual Marine, to the front lines, allowing the enemy to afflict Job with “loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2: 7b). We know the rest of the story. Job raged at his trouble but did not give up on God or reject him. In the end, he was healed and restored when he served as priest for his three friends—forgiving these accusers, praying and sacrificing on their behalf.

not abandoned

References to illness and disease occur in the psalms. We aren’t told circumstances, but surely, as in the case of Job, the illnesses referenced are not necessarily due to sin. If sickness strikes, whatever the case, the psalmist is trusting God to heal. David writes: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, / and all that is within me, / bless his holy name! / Bless the LORD, O my soul, / and forget not all his benefits / Who forgives all your iniquity, / Who heals all your diseases, / Who redeems your life from the pit, / Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, / Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps 103: 1-5). In Psalm 41, David again refers to promises of healing: “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! / In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; / The LORD protects him and keeps him alive; / He is called blessed in the land: / You do not give him up to the will of his enemies. / The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; / In his illness you restore him to full health” (Ps 41: 1-3). Righteous or unrighteous, we are not abandoned by God to disease or illness. The Bible assures us that his promises do not fail.

the godly

The New Testament has other examples of the godly who become ill. Paul, writer of Scripture (2 Peter 3: 15-16), first Christian missionary, and bringer of the word of healing to the sick (Acts 28: 8-10), reminds the Galatians of an illness he himself suffered when he was with them: “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus . . .. For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me” (Gal 4: 13-15b, 16). Epaphroditus, Paul’s fellow worker became ill to the point of death but recovered (Phil 2: 25-30), giving rise to great rejoicing.

born blind

Seeing a man born blind, the disciples asked Jesus, “ ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered: ‘It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9: 3). The causes of human illness and disease are a theological complexity. One thing is clear—they aren’t a one-to-one. We do not become ill as the certain and automatic result of sin. To be plagued with questions like What did I do to cause this is an additional and unnecessary hardship. The Bible encourages us to trust God in every case—in good health or poor. His mercy and his promises are there for us.

from the Edgefield Advertiser, oldest newspaper in South Carolina

August 4. 2021

with thanks for the great image–national-cancer-institute-BxXgTQEw1M4-unsplash.jpeg