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23. The Christian attitude to sickness

The Master's instructions about everyday life. (Job chapters 1 and 2)


As Christians we should thank God for our health and strength day by day and we should be good stewards of these gifts. From time to time we will probably become sick. What should we do? We know beyond doubt that

God is able to heal us, but it may be that He has allowed temporary or permanent sickness to reveal Himself to us or to use us in a particular way. General sickness is a direct result of mankind’s sinful rebellion against God (Genesis 3:16-19). Sometimes a specific sickness is the result of a specific sin being punished by God (Deuteronomy

28:58-61). Other times God allows sickness to help us prove His grace is sufficient even in our extremity (Job 2:1-10; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).


When we become sick, we should first seek to know God’s will in the

matter. Is this a judgement from God? Is there a sin to confess? Does

God want me to prove His grace can carry me through pain? Does God

want to demonstrate His power through a miracle?


From a study of the references to healings in the book of Acts I have

recognised seven principles at work:


1. Jesus linked healing through the disciples with their commission in

gospel preaching and evangelism (Matthew 10:1, 8).

2. Faith is sometimes linked with healing.

3. Complete healing should glorify Jesus and not the instrument.

4. God works in healing.

5. Healing often leads to a belief in the gospel and to church growth.

6. Healing used in evangelism is done out among the people.

7. Miracles are not restricted to the apostles only.


Read the stories of Acts for yourself: 3:6-8; 4:30; 5:12, 15-16; 6:8;

8:6-7, 13; 9:17-18, 34, 40-41; 14:3, 9-10; 16:18; 19:11-12; 20:10; 28:8-9.


Looking further into the New Testament I believe that the cure for

sickness, should it be God’s will to grant it, may come in one of four ways

(or indeed in any combination of the four).


The cure may be mundane

It may involve common sense and the use of natural means of healing such

as wine for the stomach (1 Timothy 5:23), sleep for the body (1 Kings 19:5), or

taking the proper food (vv.6-7).


The cure may be medical

It may involve the advice and prescription of a qualified doctor. I’m sure

God used Dr Luke to help Paul through the arduous life to which he was

called (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11).


The cure may be mental

It may involve a deliberate change of attitude towards personal

circumstances as Christ comes to influence them and you (Luke 8:35;

2 Timothy 2:3-7).


The cure may be miraculous

Examples of this proliferate in the pages of the gospels and Acts. The

church is encouraged to believe God can and will heal the sick

(James 5:13-16).


Be wary of any selfish motivation for miracles of healing, but rejoice

when God grants these demonstrations of His power. Be wary of unbelief.

Be wary of praying for healing when you should be praying for help in

bearing a painful trial with triumphant testimony to God.


It is our heavenly Father Who works in the mundane, medical, mental or

miraculous healings. He also works in the mystery of those who suffer

continually in the centre of his will.


Discussion guide for ‘The Christian Attitude to Sickness’

Reading Job chapters 1 and 2.


1. When someone you know, or you yourself are sick why is it

important to ask: “What is God’s will in this matter”?


2. In our reading, why did disasters come upon Job, 1:13-19, and why

was Job sick, 2:7-10? Who was behind it all? See also Job 42:11.


3. When you pray for healing and God does not grant it, what should

you then do? See Paul’s experience in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.


4. Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach, to drive out demons

and bring healing, Matthew 10:1,7 and 8. In Acts we read of them

doing all of these things: Acts 2:14; 2:43; 3:6-8; 8:5-8 (among many

others). Does this mean that no Christian should ever be sick?

Why? Why not?


5. Which disciples are recorded as being sick in the New Testament?

See 1 Timothy 5:23; Galatians 6:11; 2 Timothy 4:20.


6. Explain how James 5:13-16 works, or could work, in your local

church. How do verses 7-8, 10-11 impact these verses?

What about 1 Corinthians 12:9?


7. Read Job 1:20-22 and 2:10. How is Job and his reaction to

suffering an example to us? How does the Bible describe him?

Always pray for discernment when faced by sickness and suffering.

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