Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Timothy 5:23 (NIV)
God heals. His Word declares it. In Psalm 103:3 we read, “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” In Psalm 41:3 it says, “The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.” In 1 Peter 2:24 we discover that “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.” And in Exodus 15:26 God says, “I am the Lord who heals you.”
These, and many other verses, confirm that the restoration of health, the making whole or well, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually, is God’s will for you. For sickness, although caused by original sin and a consequence of the corrupt nature of man (cf. Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19; Romans 5:12-21), contradicts and stands in the way of God’s plan for you. That’s not to say that God doesn’t work through sickness to discipline, correct us (cf. Proverbs 3:7-8, 11-12; Hebrews 12:6), and assist us in developing our faith, humility and character (cf. Job 40:4; 42:6; 2 Corinthians 4:17), but it is to say that your healing is vitally important to God.
Yes, God is the Great Physician who heals. He does this by using both natural and supernatural means, instantaneously or over the course of time, directly or indirectly, with or without the use of human means, as He chooses.
In other word’s God heals using whatever means He wants and whenever He wants. He’s not bound by earthly remedies, yet He may choose to work through them. He’s not restricted to miracles, yet He may choose to employ means that can only be attributed to His intervention. In short, God heals according to His will, according to His timetable – not ours.
Which raises a number of questions. How do we know whether He wants us to go to the doctor or trust Him for a miraculous cure? And how should we pray when faced with health concerns as diverse as the common cold and terminal cancer?
A careful study of the Word helps us answer these questions.
Concerning natural remedies the Biblical evidence indicates that God has placed many means at our disposal. Healing virtue is seen in Isaiah’s instruction for a poultice of figs to be prepared and applied to Hezekiah’s boil (cf. Isaiah 38:21-22). In the story of the Good Samaritan he bandages a beaten man’s wounds and pours on oil and wine as healing balms (cf. Luke 10:30-37). Paul’s injunction to Timothy to use a little wine because of his stomach and frequent illnesses is mentioned as a substitute for the unhealthy waters of the Middle East (cf. 1 Timothy 5:23). Thus one way in which God heals is to use some known remedy that brings healing on the natural plane. So as long as earthly means are able to meet the healing needs of a given situation they should be employed unless God leads otherwise.
Concerning God’s supernatural intervention, a study of the miracles mentioned in the Bible makes it clear that in the majority of cases the disease or affliction that was cured was of an incurable nature, i.e., beyond the help of physicians. That’s an important observation. It indicates that God will often step in when there’s nothing that man can do. As such it’s reasonable to pray for a miracle when earthly means are either ineffective or inadequate. Oswald J. Smith elaborates saying that “the great fact in bodily healing is this: that when all means have failed, and humanly speaking there is no hope, we have a God who is not only able but willing to undertake and heal those whom men pronounce incurable, providing the conditions are met and His highest purpose thereby fulfilled.”
Which brings us to the matter of prayer. The Bible encourages us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” Ephesians 6:18. Which means that in every and all situations concerning our health we should commit the case to God and trust Him to heal us through both natural as well as supernatural means. In the process we must trust Him implicitly for both the timing and the manner of healing. We must also accept that there will ultimately be those cases in which His will is for us to go on to our heavenly home where He will wipe every tear from our eyes and “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” Revelation 21:4.