Although scripture clearly declares that God created the earth, it is not so clear about why there is a less-than–perfect condition of life upon it. Universal maladies, genetic flaws, and suffering abound. Yet through it all God is glorified.
Obviously, there are many who do not accept that God should receive any glory or praise for such imperfections. They consider suffering or any sickness undesirable and therefore from an evil source. Certainly God is not evil, so they reason, how can illness ever be rightly associated with bringing God glory? After all, since He is the Creator, couldn’t He have easily created a perfect world?
There is an appropriate story found in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel. It provides Christ’s perspective on infirmity.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man blind from birth. “Master,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?”
“Neither,” Jesus answered. “but to demonstrate the power of God.
All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. But while I am still here in the world, I give it my light.”
Then he spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes, and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word Siloam means “Sent”). So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing!
His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Is this the same fellow—that beggar? ”Some said yes, and some said no. “It can’t be the same man,” they thought, “but he surely looks like him!” And the beggar said, “I am the same man!”
Then they asked him how in the world he could see. What had happened? And he told them, “A man they call Jesus made mud and smoothed it over my eyes and told me to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash off the mud. I did, and I can see!” “Where is he now?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he replied.
Then they took the man to the Pharisees. Now as it happened, this all occurred on a Sabbath. So, the Pharisees asked him all about it. He told them how Jesus had smoothed the mud over his eyes, and when it was washed away, he could see!
Some of them said, “Then this fellow Jesus is not from God because he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miracles?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
Then the Pharisees turned on the man who had been blind and demanded, “This man who opened your eyes—who do you say he is?” “I think he must be a prophet sent from God,” the man replied.
The Jewish leaders wouldn’t believe he had been blind, until they called in his parents and asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he see?” His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know what happened to make him see, or who did it. He is old enough to speak for himself. Ask him.” (They said this in fear of the Jewish leaders who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be excommunicated).
So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “Give the glory to God, not to Jesus, for we know Jesus is an evil person.” “I don’t know whether he is good or bad,” the man replied, “but I know this: I was blind, and now I see!”
“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?” “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once; didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know God has spoken to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t know anything about him.”
“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He can heal blind men, and yet you don’t know anything about him! Well, God doesn’t listen to evil men, but he has open ears to those who worship him and do his will. Since the world began there has never been anyone who could open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t do it.”
“You were absolutely born in sin!” they shouted. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out.
When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and said, “Do you believe in the Messiah?” The man answered, “Who is he, sir, for I want to.” “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord,” the man said, “I believe!” And he worshiped Jesus.
Then Jesus told him, “I have come into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” The Pharisees who were standing there asked, “Are you saying we are blind?” “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But your guilt remains because you claim to know what you are doing.
Several things regarding this actual event in the earthly ministry of Christ are quite important to prayerfully reflect upon. Early in the text there is a phrase (I typed in BOLD), “But to demonstrate the power of God.
Jesus immediately answered why the man had suffered blindness from birth. It was NOT due to any sin on his part, nor even the sins of his parents; it was for the glory of God.
Contemplation of such information may tempt some to discount Christ’s statement, and like the Pharisees in the story, reject that Jesus was truly from God. It may seem irrational to some that God would allow such malady to hinder one from birth unless sin is somehow to blame.
Many have argued that illness is the natural by-product of the all-pervasive curse of sin, imposed upon all humanity when Adam ate the forbidden fruit in Eden. While this is true to a degree, it is obviously NOT consistent nor equal among all mankind. The majority of human beings do NOT suffer such life-long handicaps, neither does everyone experience equal sickness or turmoil.
While it is true that scripture teaches that Christ died for us to resolve our sin issue, the physical consequence of sin remains – literal death to every human life. Still, the greater ramifications of sin are spiritual. Sin separates us from God. Christ’s one-time sacrifice is the only acceptable remedy, bridging the gap between God and man.
Meanwhile, within this temporary physical realm, God has chosen to manifest His power (glory) among men. Any proper concept of the term “miracle” requires the impossible. NOT a mere illusion nor slight of hand, but a verifiable manifestation of the impossible (in natural terms) being visibly experienced. If it can be explained by any possible natural phenomenon, it can’t qualify as a legitimate miracle.
Such is the glory of God. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Mt. 19:26.
Although it may be quite foreign to man’s way of thinking, which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? – Mt. 9:5. In order to show the power of God (thereby proving equality with God) there must be physical manifestations of such supernatural activity. Actions have always “spoken” louder than words. To say you are of God is one thing; to demonstrate the true power of God is yet another!
Like in child-birth, the pain of delivery is greatly eclipsed by the joy of a new life entering the world. So it is that some were lame, to be healed; some even died (Lazarus of Bethany), to be raised from the grave. History shows that many in every generation since have experienced true divine healings.
Another important thing to grasp from this story centers on the man’s statement, “God doesn’t listen to evil men, but he has open ears to those who worship him and do his will.”
The proper attitude of heart towards God is the requirement for any acceptance of the legitimacy of His miracles. Those who harden their hearts are doomed to cynicism. But to the humble and contrite, there is always a hopeful expectancy that God will ultimately reward.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” – Mt. 6:33.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess’.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” – Lk. 18:10-14.
Jesus clearly explained the moral to that story. He that exalts himself (thinks more of himself than he rightly should) shall be abased (humbled); he that humbles himself shall be exalted. Such is the difference between the hard heart towards the things of God and the truly righteous heart toward God.
Many simply do not see the many miracles that surround them daily. In their cynicism they tend to consider far too many real moves of God as mere coincidences. Think about how many attempts there have been to provide some alternative explanation to the virgin birth of Christ. Indeed, none are so blind as they that WILL not see.
Finally, the blind man accepted his healing as divine. The text says that, “he worshiped Jesus”. Many miracles literally pass us by because we were neither prepared to accept them as God-breathed, or acknowledge God’s power and give Him the glory. Such hesitation or ignorance reminds me of this passage.
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he finds it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and takes with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”– Mt.12: 43-45.
God may do a mighty work in a person’s life (casting out demons or providing divine healing), but if and when such a person does nothing in response to rightly acknowledge God’s move and begin to make the corresponding changes such a move of God warrants, his latter condition may be worse than the former.
When God moves, we must be ready. The heart sealed with the Holy Spirit seeks God first, and anticipates a move of God. The casual observer merely accepts what he hears from others about God, but never researches to discover what is real or not. But since his teachers disapprove of modern day spiritual manifestations, he willingly accepts that they must be right because, after all, he has never personally witnessed any miracle.
Sadly, just as in the days of Christ, those being used of God today, through which He manifests true miracles, are often shunned as members of false religions. Blinded by their cynicism their critics reject the legitimate moves of God, often claiming demonic forces for the supernatural phenomenon being manifest.
But those who understand that the maladies of this life are ultimately passing away for those who truly love God and are the called according to His purpose, also recognize that even what seems unacceptable for a time, God will fully redeem forever, eventually.
“And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Ro. 8: 28.
Of course there are many worthy people who truly love God with all their hearts that are not healed. But two important things must be considered about that. First, ALL godly people are “worthy” – so worthiness is NOT a prerequisite for healing.
The Roman centurion’s servant wasn’t necessarily “worthy” (neither he nor his master were believers) – “The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof” – Mt. 8:8. Yet, Jesus healed the servant.
God’s love is unconditional. I know many disagree. But for those who don’t, their appreciation of that fact allows them to understand that God is for us, not against us. He wants to bless us and care for us. The very fact that you draw a second breath is proof that He cares for you and desires to sustain your life, whether you acknowledge Him and appreciate Him – or not!
“I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Ro. 8: 38-39.
Another thing to consider about divine healing, is if the opportunity is within one’s realm of personal experience. Do you frequent places where miracles are reported to occur? Do you fellowship regularly with those who believe in or have received divine healing? Or, are you regularly being influenced by alternative doctrines?
“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and WOULD HAVE PASSED THEM. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and CRIED OUT” –Mk.6: 47-49
Have you RIGHTLY identified HIM? Have you PROPERLY recognized God, or is your personal conviction about HIM something other than what scripture truly reveals HIM to be? Are you in the habit of crying out to God, or have you not seen Him and let Him pass by? Remember, those who CALL upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Ro. 10:13).
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” – Mt. 7:7.
Is your faith too narrow to envision divine healing as part of that equation? Is anything too hard for God? Has He ceased His miraculous interventions into the lives of men? Think not such unbelief!
Accept that in this present imperfect world, Christ is still performing miracles in and through His true followers. Those who are truly born again have the selfsame Spirit working in them that was also in Christ empowering Him to do the work of God. That is God’s grand plan – to use the foolish things of this world to confound the “wise”, to His Glory.
“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” -1Cor. 1:27.
So, next time you encounter some imperfection of life, a physical ailment or a gross injustice, instead of wondering why God allows such things, ask Him to heal it! It likely exists because God will be glorified in it – through its redemption. Of course, if you really don’t believe that He will, He probably won’t. Furthermore, it will probably be God’s expectation to perform the miracle through YOU!
“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” – Mt. 17: 19-21.
He wants us to be Christ-like in this world. WE (true believers) are His eyes, His ears, and His hands. If we do not determine to do it, who do you expect will?
“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” – Jas. 5:14-6.
“They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” – Mk. 16:18.
“The father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him” – Ac. 28:8.