Why does God heal and do miracles?


In healing God defeats to enemies of his kingdom. David Goneau preached a sermon from Judges 7 that illustrates this point. You can listen to it here (link at top right). The reason God has Gideon defeat the Midianites with only 300 men is to fight the evil that was overtaking Israel. While it is easy to see that the oppressors were evil, David points out that God is also fighting against Israel’s unbelief. He wins the battle for Israel in such a way as to engender trust and belief–loyalty.

David goes on to say that the tougher battle for God is not the evil oppressor (they disappear from history) but the repetitive habits towards idolatry and unbelief. Fighting disloyalty in order to win the hearts of his people is the major cyclical theme in Judges and in the whole Bible. David ended his sermon with the reminder that God uses another “absurd strategy” to end this cycle–that of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I make a similar point in a paper on a biblical theology of inner healing coming out in a special issue of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. All of God’s healing activity in the bible, including that of Jesus’ healings, have the near goal of ending suffering but the ultimate goal of healing disloyal hearts by showing us his power. We get caught up with the amazing power of the miracles but do we see them first and foremost as God showing us his Kingdom power?

7 Comments

Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity

7 responses to “Why does God heal and do miracles?

  1. Mark O.

    Phil,

    This seems to speak to a dilemna I’ve had in thinking about counseling as a Christian. According to secular models, the goal of therapy is to increase functionality, insight, quality of present life, decrease symptons, restore previous levels of functioning, etc.

    According to the Bible, while physical health is important, the deeper meaning to suffering often is to bring people into deeper relationship with the living God. For someone such as myself who is working in a secular mental health clinic, I often feel like I’m helping my client’s become interpersonally healthier, but neglecting to address the area of their life that is the most important, that being their relationship with God.

    Any wisdom for those of us who feel handcuffed by working in public mental health?

  2. Mark, you are handcuffed in a secular environment. You have some limits on your ability to discuss the “deeper meaning” though it is not completely inappropriate given our ethical mandate to ask and explore spiritual matters in therapy. But, even with your limits, it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing important work. God brings rain and health to the just and the unjust. It is a mercy ministry to help people function better. If a parent is less harsh and abusive with a child–that is a good thing, right?

  3. Lynn

    Dear Phil,

    I concur with your biblical view on miracles and healing, i.e. that God delivered Israel from slavery, etc., to show the Israelites who He is and to bring them back into relationship with Him; that Jesus healed the sick; calmed the storm. etc. to prove to the people that He is the son of God, the chosen one. I also believe we live in a broken world and because of that, there will always be sicknesses, pain and death. Our hope lies in the future God has promised us.

    What I struggle with is this: can I pray and hope for physical healing? Is it wrong?

    My christian friends who go to churches that preaches the “prosperity/health & wealth” gospel seems to focus too much on miracles/healing while my other christian friends who attend the more “biblically-conservative” churches dismiss miracles/healing altogether.

    I find it hard to talk to either group of christians about my health issues. The 1st group of friends make me uncomfortable with their invitations to “healing services” and their strong conviction that “it is God’s will to heal me” while my 2nd group of friends make me feel guilty about praying for healing.

    Any thoughts?

    Lynn

  4. You are in a bind with your friends. Unfortunately, your experience isn’t uncommon. Seems to me,
    1. The bible explicitly promotes prayers for healing and rescue from struggle. There are too many examples of this from corporate cries for healing to individuals. And Jesus does heal many.
    2. Nowhere does the Bible discourage requests for healing. In the case of Paul’s prayer about his “thorn”, he gets a no answer, but he isn’t chastised for repeated prayer.
    3. James gives us a model for seeking the prayers of Christian leaders

    So, probably your one group recognizes that God has the power to heal and wants you to ask for it. Unfortunately some of those folk think God promises healing and health. He does not. Probably your conservative friends see the danger of the health/wealth group and fear you are making an idol out of healing and so emphasize the soverienty of God over all things. True, but that surely isn’t how Jesus responds to suffering. He doesn’t proclaim that since he is sovereign, stop asking for stuff.

    So tell your friends you are praying for healing. And he is healing you day by day–even if the healing you most want never comes.

  5. Lightbearer

    @ Phil: Actually, I would say that the bind comes from Scripture itself. On one hand, we are told that with the faith of a mustard seed, that what ever we ask for we will receive, even something as unlikely as tossing mountains into the sea. On the other hand, we are instructed not to ask for such things as moving mountains, regrowing amputated limbs, raising the dead, etc., as it is understood by everyone that such prayers will never be answered. And this blatant contradiction has an unwritten rule (found in both the prosperity gospel camp and the biblically conservative camp) that says that it can never be openly acknowledged.

    Incidentally, there is a term for this condition in counseling: it is called a double bind.

    Rick Warren attempts to address this issue with his ‘Yes / No / Wait’ answers to prayer, but doesn’t address the basic question of why God would promise to answer all prayers in the first place, when a lifetime of experience clearly shows that he won’t.

    Personally, I never ask God for anything. It’s my job and my responsibility to run the life I’ve been given in a moral way, to take on what life throws at me, to correct my own mistakes. If God wants to throw blessings or obstacles in my path (i.e., Job), then so be it: bring it on.

    Asking God to get rid of an obstacle that he put in my path in the first place is, for me, more psychologically painful than just dealing with it. Asking God to grant me wishes is, for me, like asking the Mob to fix the outcome of a football game: distasteful, and ultimately dishonest.

    @Lynn: Obviously, I’m not you, nor do I have any idea what you have gone through in life, what you are dealing with now, or what you are expecting in the immediate future. So if anything that I’ve said above is offensive or insensitive to you and your situation, then you have my apologies.

    Scripture supports both camps of friends that you have, and like your friends, the clashes can be jarring, brutal, and just downright exhausting. I support Phil’s advice, and would like to add that, although prayer won’t affect God’s actions, it will affect yours; if for no other reason, pray as you will 🙂

  6. Lynn

    Dear Phil & Lightbearer,

    Interesting thoughts. Thanks for your sharing.

    Lightbearer: no, I don’t find any of it offensive at all.

    I don’t think the scriptures itself is contradictory. I believe however, that we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit’s guidance/help in interpreting and understanding the scriptures.

    Yes – prayer is not to be treated as a shopping list; but neither should we be afraid to ask, or rather, confide in God. King David asked God to deliver Him but he also trusted in God’s faithfulness & sovereignty. David’s prayers reflected his relationship with God. He relied on God; acknowledges God as King of his life; acknowledges that he was but a weak and helpless creature; and trusted in God’s sovereignty.

    Lightbearer: you mentioned Job. I’ve recently read Christopher Ash’s book, ‘Out of the Storm – Grappling with God in the Book of Job’, and this is what he wrote in the final chapter,

    “For the book of Job is not about Job, but about God – His character, sovereignty, justice, goodness and, yes, even his love. Above all it is about God the Creator of everything, the God who is God, who made everything, even the wildest corners of the created order, even evil and death…And therefore Job is about true worship, a person bowing down in reality and in the darkness to the God who is God, leaving even our most agonised unanswered questions at his feet. For we are creatures and he alone is the Creator…But of course Job is also about Job. He is the central human character in the drama…And so Job points us to the mystery at the heart of the universe, that a blameless believer who walks in fellowship with his Creator, may suffer terrible and undeserved pain, may go through deep darkness and then at the end be vindicated…And therefore Job is passionately and profoundly about Jesus, whom Job foreshadows both in his blamelessness and in his perseverance through undeserved suffering. As the blameless believer par excellence, Jesus fulfils Job…And because Job is about Jesus, it is also, derivatively, about every man and woman in Christ. Every disciple, called to take up the cross and walk in the footsteps of Christ, must expect in some measure to walk also in the footstep of Job. Not primarily about us, for it is above all about God. …”

    I don’t know if God will bring healing to my body, but I know I can bring it to Him in prayer because I know God cares for me, and He longs to hear from me. My faith demands that I trust that whatever happens (and in this case, whether I am physically healed), God is good and He is in control.

    God is more concerned about my “spiritual health” than my physical one and He wants me to be focus on eternity. So, like Phil has so perfectly described, God is healing me day by day – even if the healing I most want never comes.

    Lynn

  7. Hachi

    God granted me a miracle…
    I was born with two medical conditions, one impared me to walk and the other one helped me out although it is still a medical condition which affects people. Medically speaking I shouldn’t be able to be walking, my body “modified” itself to be able to do so… I don’t know why or how… even doctors don’t know and always just tell me to thank God, and I do…

    I just.. have so many questions… my life is very weird.. like the way things unfold in it…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s