So on Nov. 28th of 2021, my mother of almost 96 years died. We prayed for her a lot in those last weeks, but not really for her physical healing because she had lived a long full life and was ready to be with Jesus.
On Monday afternoon, January 31, 2022 we found out that my older brother (Danny) had a 2.6 in. brain tumor. Today (Feb. 15) we heard the results no one wants to hear from biopsies via Danny’s neurosurgeon. I’m asking you to pray for him to be healed of this “aggressive” cancer – practically because he is only 69 years old and has a wife of 49 years, daughters and their spouses, and grandchildren and two brothers and our wives, and lots of friends, and unfinished work in the kingdom, etc.
Biblically, you might ask, can we legitimately pray with any real expectation for such? With all the other things on my plate, is it a good and righteous and legitimate and biblical use of my time and energy to pray for God to heal Danny Nash? Experientially you might be thinking, most people who contract brain cancer or other serious cancers at this age don’t last too long. Why should we expect things to be any different with Danny? And besides, the few times I have prayed for God to heal people, He didn’t heal them.
Well those and more are oft asked questions by many sincere believers in Christ. For the next weeks and months I hope to answer some of them in these blogs. More than that I am praying that our faith will be strengthened specifically for Danny’s healing; but more generally for anyone else’s God may lead us to minister to/pray for.
Perhaps before we do that I should give you a little background. Neither my wife or I grew up in church backgrounds where people prayed for the sick to be healed, and thus we rarely ever saw such things. The church we were both a part of while pursuing our University degrees did not believe God heals and thus we rarely saw people healed of sickness, injury or disease (in a miraculous way). The seminary wherein I received my Masters of Theology degree taught against such things. It took me five years to complete my four year degree, and after my first year I worked full time and tried to focus on my marriage with Anne, so I was in that Seminary community including two different churches that taught the same for six years.
It really wasn’t until we were missionaries in Hong Kong (1986-1990) that we began to see God heal people through us and through others we knew. But it was some years later that I saw the need to trace every occurrence of healing, sickness, disease, infirmities, etc., from Genesis to Revelation for myself. Now I believe it is time to blog on some of what I discovered in those days, and from what I have been learning since. I’m going to begin in the Old Testament because that’s where God began with us. And most of us are not as grounded in the Old Testament as we ought to be.
And I’m going to begin with Him. We know healing the sick was a huge part of Jesus’s ministry, but what about the God of the Old Testament (not that He is any different than Jesus). How does He reveal Himself in this regard? How does He want to be known by the peoples of the earth when it comes to our sicknesses and diseases?
The God who Works Wonders
Well first of all I would like to point out that the living triune God of the universe as revealed in the Bible is a God who routinely works wonders and He wants to be known throughout the earth as such. One of my favorite scriptures is Exodus 15:11, “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” When it comes to working wonders, there is no one like our God!
Way before Moses penned these words (above) in a song, Job’s friends, who seemed to know God to some extent, though obviously did not know Him like they should have, said this of God, “Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number.” Job 5:9; Then in Job 37:14, “Listen to this, O Job, Stand and consider the wonders of God.” God’s wonders are too many to be numbered (even by that time); and they are to be regularly considered and meditated on by God’s people.
King Solomon had access to the greatest most skilled men of all professions on the planet. They were in many ways at his disposal. But they could not work wonders/miracles. Only God could do that. And thus he wrote, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who alone works wonders.” Psalm 72:18
Asaph, a composer of some of the Psalms, says working wonders is what marks God. It is one of the major things that sets Him apart from all other beings in the Universe. “You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.” Psalm 77:14
We don’t know for sure who wrote Psalm 136. The whole Psalm is a call to give thanks to God as a way of life because of who He is and because of what He does. In vs. 1 He is called “the Lord.” In vs. 2 He is called “the God of gods”. In vs. 3 He is called “the Lord of lords”. And in vs. 4 He is described as, “…Him who alone does great wonders.” This is who He is!! A wonder working God like none other.
I’ll finish this section with King Darius’s proclamation after discovering God had protected his cherished servant Daniel in the lions’ den. He wanted every person in his kingdom to know this about Daniel’s God. “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:27
Doctors diagnose, treat and manage sicknesses and diseases and injuries as best they can. God heals them. Only God can and does cause the natural course of things to reverse. Only God stops the inevitable. God is glorified by His people when we are faced with a problem or a crisis or a prognosis that spells doom and disaster, and instead of being bound by fear and placing our hope and trust in man, we place our hope and trust in God because we know from day one of human history He has proven Himself time and time again to be the only One in the universe who routinely as a matter of course does the unthinkable and the impossible and the supernatural.
The God who Heals
But does He want to be known as the God who heals? Maybe all these verses (there were many others) about Him doing wonders and miracles were not meant to include or refer to healing sicknesses, diseases and injuries…..?
Well what does God Himself say, ““And He (God) said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians: for I, the Lord, am your healer.” Exodus 15:26 God wanted all of Israel to know Him theologically and experientially as their Healer. He never meant for them to put all their hope in doctors or formulas or rituals/superstitions (especially from surrounding nations) that might hopefully possibly bring about healing. He loved His people and His highest will for them was to thrive spiritually and physically – both for their own blessing and to be a blessing to the nations as those nations saw God’s hand of blessing on Israel (see Psalm 67).
King David knew we are a forgetful people. He knew we quickly forget and lose sight of the glorious things God has done for us and for others around us. So he wrote Psalm 103 as a reminder of all the great and wonderful things God has done for His people. I find it interesting that the second thing he lists after the greatest blessing or benefit we could ever receive (forgiveness of our many sins) is that of having our God Himself heal our diseases. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;” vs. 2,3. Maybe one of the reasons he listed this as second is because many of us have a tendency to be oblivious to the fact that only God truly heals our sicknesses and diseases. He may use a doctor or nurse or med, but only God can heal and make whole. Especially when we have been stricken with a deadly disease. And please note the word “all”!
Psalm 113 is another one of those Psalms that we are not sure who the author is. But what is clear is why it was written. It is another strong call to praise the Lord as seen in vs. 1-3. The rest of the Psalm gives us the reasons why we should be ever praising Him and then this call or command is repeated at the end. And one of those reasons is because He alone, “… makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!” This is a truth seen throughout scripture both in principle and in practice as can be seen with Eve (Gen. 4:1, 25), and with so many others like Sarah and Hannah, etc. God delights in enabling a barren woman who has tried everything the world can offer to get pregnant – finally get pregnant. He knows how much this means to so many women.
Psalm 146 is very similar to Psalm 113 in that we know not the author. But there is a clear call to praise God in the beginning and at the end with reasons to do so in the middle. One of those reasons is because, “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous;” vs. 8. Only God can enable a blind man or woman to see. And He wants to be known as such. This truth of course explodes when Jesus began His ministry, but interestingly there is no record of God doing this in the Old Testament. That does not mean He never did it. The Old Testament is long enough without recording many of the other miracles God did in human history up to New Testament days. We know He healed other bodily illnesses and defects as recorded in the O.T., which we will look at in my next post.
So I think I will stop here. In my next blog, Lord willing, I hope to make note of all or most of the people God healed (some directly and some through other people) as recorded in the Old Testament. He clearly has always been the God who heals. He has always cared about our bodies and been glad to intervene, especially as His people cried out to Him and placed their sole trust in Him. May we ever be a people who praise and bless Him continually for being such a merciful wonderful God to us! And please remember to pray for Danny!