So often when we fall ill, our natural instinct is to pursue healing. Our minds are pre-occupied with wanting to recover as soon as possible. However we fail to pause and consider what the Lord may be saying to us and risk wasting the sickness altogether.
My appeal is that even as we pursue recovery, let us also take time to seek the Lord and discern the cause(s) of our sickness so that we can pray more appropriately for healing.
1. Careless Living
It is a known fact that the lack of balanced diet and exercise will lead to several physical ailments. Our physical body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19); and we are to glorify Him with our body. Glorifying God with our body includes being good stewards of our body. Observing a balanced diet and having a healthy dose of exercise will help us prevent chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure. Observing Sabbath rest also allows the body to be renewed and refreshed. If we have been guilty of careless living, we need to repent from it and treat God’s temple with honour and sacred responsibility.
2. Negative Thought Patterns and Emotions
Our mental and emotional states can impact our physical wellbeing. Anxiety can lead to outbreak of eczema. Stress and lack of sleep weaken one’s immune system. Depression can cause headaches, chronic body aches and raise the risk of a heart attack. Proverbs 17:22 (NLT) says: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” It is important for us to seek God’s shalom for our mental and emotional wellbeing. We need to let God’s truth take captives of our thoughts and set us free from the lies of the evil one. We need to allow God’s love to free us from any emotional pain, bitterness, anger or shame.
3. Disciplined by the Lord
In 1 Cor 11:29-32, Paul explained that God had struck some believers in the church at Corinth with sicknesses because of their careless approach towards partaking the Lord’s Supper. However Paul was quick to highlight that such are not under God’s condemnation but under His discipline because He treats them as His children. It is therefore possible for God to use physical illnesses to get the attention of His children and help them repent from any prevailing sins in their lives. Thus it important for us to practice self-examination (not self-condemnation) when we are sick and to confess and repent from any sins that the Holy Spirit surfaced in us.
4. Consequence of the Fall
Rom 8:20-22 tells us that all of God’s creation (including us) are subjected to the bondage of decay and death due to the Fall. This means that even if we are able to observe a balanced diet, adopt a good exercise regime and achieve mental and emotional wellness, we will still experience bodily decay due to the consequence of the Fall. In addition, this fallen world is so filled with viruses and contaminants that we cannot totally avoid. We should accept the fact our present body is a perishable one and look forward for the day of resurrection where we will put on an imperishable one.
5. Attacked by the Evil One
In the gospel narratives, we read of accounts of Jesus healing those whose diseases were caused by demonic oppressions (see Lk 16:13; Matt 12:12, Mark 9:17-18). We also read how the devil sought permission from God to afflict Job with terrible diseases. Surely Job’s physical ailments were not the result of careless living, or negative thought patterns and emotions, nor is he disciplined because of prevailing sins. Instead, Job was attacked by the evil one in order to weaken his faith in God. Similarly, the evil one is still attacking the servants of the Lord today to derail them from their ministries. Even as we serve the Lord, it is important for us to put on the full armour of God and be constantly praying, standing firm in the Lord. Let us submit ourselves to God’s authority and resist the devil and he will flee away from us. It is also wise to engage the saints of God to pray for us too.
Therefore seeking healing involves a process of self-examination, confession, repentance and surrendering. The next time when we are struck down by a sickness or a disease, let us take time to consider the following:
- Is this the result of my careless living (bad diet, lack of rest or exercise)?
- Am I plagued by negative thought patterns and emotions (e.g. stress, anxiety, anger, bitterness)?
- Is the Lord disciplining me because of some prevailing sin?
- Is this the consequence of the Fall?
- Is this an attack from the evil one?
May these questions help us to discern our spiritual state and seek God to first heal and restore our inner man. It is only then we can be more spiritually equipped to pray for physical healing.
By Pastor Rick Toh