*TRUTH ABOUT GIFT OF MIRACLES AND THE QUESTION OF SUFFERING*
Gift of miracles (of the type ”handkerchief and apron”) was for a short period of time at the moment of establishing the message of the apostles:
-Paul would send his handkerchief and apron to touch sick people for healing and to remove spirits in Acts19:12 but later, in 2Cor12:7-10 Paul had a thorn in the flesh – a demon sent by Jesus causing him pain – which he could not remove with his apron as before;
-Paul said to Timothy in 1Tim5:23 to drink grape juice for his stomach sickness;
-Paul left his greatest disciple Trophimus sick in Miletus in 2Tim4:20;
-Epaphroditus, coworker of Paul was sick near death for an extended period of time Phil2:25-30;
God does heal when He desires but the gift of healing through apron does not exist anymore today and even Paul only had it for a short time.
Is53:5, which is also quoted in 1Pet2:24 speaks of spiritual healing from sins, not from sickness, but these verses are often misunderstood and misapplied.
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” The word translated “healed” can mean either spiritual or physical healing. However, the contexts of Is53 and 1Peter2 make it clear that it is speaking of spiritual healing. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1Pet2:24). The verse is talking about sin and righteousness, not sickness and disease. Therefore, being “healed” in both these verses is speaking of being forgiven and saved, not physically healed.
The Bible does not specifically link physical healing with spiritual healing. Sometimes people are physically healed when they place their faith in Christ, but this is not always the case (see Luke 17 where only 1 out of 10 lepers healed by Jesus came in faith to thank Jesus). Sometimes it is God’s will to heal, but sometimes it is not. The apostle John gives us the proper perspective: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1Jn5:14-15). Key in the verse is ”ACCORDING TO HIS WILL”.
Why would God desire or allow for a Christian to be sick? Here are some reasons:
1. For testing – see Job
2. So that he would be for others around us a testimony of trust in God in the situation 2Cor1:4
3. So that we learn to receive grace for the difficult situation of sickness 2Cor12:9
4. To learn to get closer to God: Ps119:67,71,75, 2Cor12:9
5. Chastisement from God to correct our attitude towards Him: Heb12:6, 1Cor11:29,30
6. To learn to identify with others that are sick (to understand them better)
7. So that others would be able to receive comfort from us, or else they might say, ”You can’t understand me…” and you can answer, ”I do understand, I have been – or I am – in your situation” Heb4:15,1Cor12:26
8. A Christian can be sick or suffer as a consequence of others decisions around him; millions of Christians were sick and died during the 2 world wars and in many other wars, millions of Christians today suffer because of corrupt governments, corrupt medical systems, wicked people (saved or unsaved), natural disasters. God in His sovereignty does intervene to protect some Christians in certain situations but not always. Only in heaven will He wipe away every tear, that promise is not for this earthly life Rev21/4. Remember that Jesus did not heal all the sick on the planet 2000 years ago, nor does He that today. The ”healers” of our days do not send handkerchiefs into hospitals.
9. Many sicknesses are direct consequences of an unhealthy diet, no exercise and all kinds of wrong decisions; it is well known today that mental stress (which is unbelief) leads to many types of mental and physical sicknesses.
10. Sickness can allow someone help others in sickness: Braille was invented by a nineteenth century man named Louis Braille, who was completely blind, Braille reading system is today used by hundreds of thousands of people. Read Rom8:28, Gen50:20 “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good”.
God still performs miracles. God still heals people. Sickness, disease, pain, and death are still realities in this world, consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin (Gen2:15-17; Rom1:28-32). Unless the Lord returns, everyone who is alive today will die, and the vast majority of all humans (Christians included) will die as the result of a physical problem (disease, sickness, injury). It is not always God’s will to heal us physically. Do not evaluate God’s love for you and your spirituality on health, money, lack of persecutions, miracles, or else you will conclude that the 12 apostles and the millions of Christian martyrs have failed.
Ultimately, our full physical healing awaits us in heaven. In heaven, there will be no more pain, tears, sickness, disease, suffering, or death (Rev21). We all need to be less preoccupied with our physical condition in this world and a lot more concerned with our spiritual condition (Rom12:1,2). Then we can focus our hearts on heaven where we will no longer have to deal with physical problems. Rev21:4 describes the true healing we should all be longing for: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Here are some good reads on the subject of suffering:
—”Suffering and the Sovereignty of God” (1mb size and 256 pages);
—The problem of Suffering (13 pages, 0,07mb)
—”From suffering to triumph” by pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisonned 14 years in Romania for being a Christian (8mb and 164 pages);
—”Why is there death and suffering?” by Ken Ham, from www.answersingenesis.org which is a creationist apologetics ministry with lots of great resources (book is 40 pages and 0.5mb)
Some Christians that believe sickness is never God’s will are trying to ”help God” by ”healing” people, they believe God will get behind them with His healing power to save His reputation…
Performing miracles is never a proof that a certain man is really from God, in Mat7:22 it says: ”Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Jesus will answer to them: ”depart from Me, I never ”GINOSKO’ you”, word ‘ginosko’ (greek) means ‘to know someone in a personal relationship’, or ‘getting saved’ in this verse; ‘ginosko’ is different from greek word ”gnoseo” which means ‘to know about someone without knowing him personally’.
Jam5:14 instructs us to call the elders of the church to pray for the sick, at times God will heal that sick because his faith and his obedience to Jam5:14 but it can happen that one of the elders, maybe unsaved and a false prophet, will boast with the healing and people will flock to him for miracles!!
Look at Jesus’ heart, not only at his healing hands. Look at the giver, not only at what He can give to you.
When you dont understand the hands of Jesus, trust His heart.