Well, Well, Well
"When Jesus noticed him [an invalid] lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time [thirty-eight years, in fact] in that condition, He said to him, 'Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]'"1
I have a friend who had polio when she was a child and was left with a physical handicap. Many had prayed for her healing but she was never healed. Well-meaning but insensitive Christians told her she didn't have enough faith, or gave some other lame excuse. It left her feeling insecure for many years until she realized that God doesn't heal everybody. I don't know why. In this life we all suffer from ailments from time to time. Some people get healed and some don't.
Having said this, I believe that many of us could be much healthier if we lived in harmony with biblical principles. In Old Testament times (before modern medicine) Jewish people were instructed by God not to eat certain foods. This was because these foods were disease riddled. In New Testament times God's Word gives us two key principles for the healing of at least some sicknesses.
First, Jesus said to the invalid, "Do you want to become well?" Modern medicine has shown that those who truly want to get well are the ones most likely to do so. They take responsibility for their recovery even though it means a radical change of lifestyle. In other words, we need to want to get well badly enough that we will do whatever we can in order to get well.
I had another friend who had tried to quit smoking for years. He had been criticized for it and preached at about it. Nothing worked. He came to me hoping I might be able to help. After he shared his struggle with me I quietly asked, "Why do you need to smoke?" He gave me THE LOOK … mumbled a few incoherent words, turned around and walked away. I think Jim (not his real name) was looking for a quick fix to overcome his addiction and save his life. He didn't want to look at possible causes … and died of lung cancer not too long after.
Second, many ills—not all by any means—or diseases are caused either by—or greatly aggravated by—unresolved personal issues that cause dis-ease. For example, the first symptom of super-charged repressed hostility might be death by heart attack. It is also well known that stress can be a killer. Stress can be caused by any number of pressures—some of which we may have no control over but many of which we do. For instance, unresolved guilt, illicit sex, being unfaithful in marriage, dishonesty in business, impaired relationships, etc., etc., can all cause big-time stress, which in turn causes dis-ease, and even early death.
The answer for healing of dis-ease caused by these stressors is also found in the Bible. It's simple, though not easy: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."2
Speaking personally, as I've shared before, I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and in my twenties suffered from painful bursitis in both shoulders and with wretched hay fever. When I found myself in a broken marriage and got into therapy, I discovered that I had an awful lot of buried grief and anger from childhood days—emotions that I had buried and was in denial about; but when I faced, confessed and expressed these "sins of the spirit" and resolved them, I was healed of both bursitis and hay fever.
God's principles are not meant to take away our freedom but to give us freedom from many ills and problems. It's our choice as to what we do about them. Do we really want to get well, or do we just wish to do so?
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that in your Word, the Bible, you give dynamic principles for wholesome living. Give me a hunger to know what Your Word teaches and the good sense to live in harmony with Your will so that I will be made well. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. John 5:6 (AB).
2. James 5:16 (NIV).