Thoughts on Healing and Suffering

My Bible Study/Book Club group is reading through J. I. Packer’s Knowing God (excellent book/highly recommended) and some of the reading caused me to think a bit more about healing and suffering.

I am a continuationist so I do believe the spiritual gift of healing is still in operation today.  It’s often described as one of the ‘spectacular gifts’ and deservedly so.  I pray for people to be healed regularly.  I’ve witnessed some miraculous healings with my own eyes and have heard and read about many other accounts from all around the world.   Spectacular sounds about right.

On the other hand, I do disagree with those who subscribe to the idea that it is God’s will to heal everybody.  The Bible talks a lot about suffering and gives us clear warning to expect it so we might be prepared.  Heck, God sent Jesus to suffer on this Earth by taking up the cross to the point of death.  Jesus then tells us to follow Him and do likewise.  Not quite sure how you ignore that.  But that’s not the point.

What I’m getting to is that we see suffering all around us.  If you don’t, you might be too caught up in your own world (just saying).  It really blows my mind when I see someone who is going through hardship and suffering, but puts his or her trust in God and praises Him still.  It blows my mind.  Spectacular. It’s amazing.

Miraculous healing and faithfulness in suffering are both in the Bible and in this present age.  Both are spectacular.  But when I think about it, I personally think of faithfulness in suffering as more amazing between the two.  Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t about one being good and one being bad.  Both are clearly good.  But there’s something so amazing and life-changing and life-giving about knowing and trusting in God so deeply that one has this eternal joy that cannot be shaken nor destroyed in spite of everything crashing down and the world and one’s flesh fiercely clawing to snatch that joy away.  There’s something incredibly pure about it.  I think it’s the fact that in suffering, everything is stripped away.  You’re only left with what you truly believe in and treasure.  You find out whether you are standing on sinking sand or on solid rock.  I love miracles but I sometimes do wonder if people are treasuring the gift or the giver.  I pray and hope for the latter.  We will all have to give an account on the last day.

This doesn’t mean, I want suffering for myself or for others.  The Bible tells us to expect it so I just want to be ready for it.  I still want to have much compassion for others as Jesus did.  I will certainly continue to pray for healing for the sick and hurting out of love and compassion and in faith.

This does mean, I appreciate that much more what my Savior did.  How GREAT and AMAZING is my Savior who came to this Earth in complete humility to endure such humiliation and suffering to the point of death upon a cross while completely innocent, all because he desired to obey the Father in worship?  And in his resurrection, the curse of sin was broken and now there is a way back to the Father?  That’s the most amazing gift.


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