Dear Members in Christ,
God is our Healer Psalm 103:1-3
The Covid-19 virus has brought about much havoc and mayhem in communities all over the world. In western countries, we read of many people in homes for the care of the aged, fatally stricken down by the disease. We have much to learn about this mysterious disease. For some reason, certain demographic groups are at a greater risk than others. Here in Malaysia, for example, we have a warning by health authorities of people who are at a higher risk of dying from the disease.
“Although we have yet to fully understand this virus, what is clear is that the risk of infection increases with age, and among individuals who have chronic diseases or non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, hypertension, heart or kidney diseases, or cancer.”
(NST, 03 May 2020 “Elderly, chronically ill comprise most Covid deaths in Malaysia”)
The impact of the seriousness of this disease did not hit close to home until this story was told to me a few weeks ago. A sister shared with us of her neighbour who had been tested positive for the disease.
This patient was still strong enough to walk into the ambulance that came to pick him up. Sadly, some days later, it was told that the man had succumbed to the disease and had passed away.
This pandemic has caused many Christians to think about illness, death, and God’s sovereignty. God is almighty and He has power over disease, plagues, and death. What about the many instances of healing recorded in the Bible? Ought we in these dire circumstances (or in any instance of illness for that matter) pray for healing and recovery? What did the great King David, the psalmist had in mind when he sang praises to God for the many benefits including that of healing?
“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” (Psalm 103:1-3)
Today’s exhortation focuses our mind on the spiritual lesson of God the Great Physician who heals all physical and spiritual illnesses.
The Lord Jesus, the Great Physician
The healing power of God is demonstrated by the many signs and miracles in the course of the ministry of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. This is recorded in many passages in the Gospels, where we read of the Lord Jesus healing the multitudes. In Matthew 4:23, it is recorded that the Lord Jesus went about the synagogues of Galilee, “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” The healing powers of the Son of God are in no way limited for the author of Matthew 9:23 writes that, as the Lord Jesus went about the towns and the cities, He went, “healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Not only did the Lord heal many of their illness, but the Great Physician was able to heal every disease and every sickness. No ailment, virus, or sickness was beyond the healing powers of the Son of God. If it is God’s will, He is able to heal any patient of every sickness and any illness, but that is the sole decision of the sovereign God. So what if there is a virulent disease or epidemic? God has the power to overcome any infirmity that afflicts man.
But here, we observe a deeper question that needs to be considered. What happened to all those that received healing at the hands of the Lord Jesus during the time of His ministry on earth? Well, we can safely say that they all eventually died, if not of some other illness, perhaps of old age – for there is not one person from the first century that is still alive today. This reveals the truth which the bible tells us, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12). At the heart of the problem of illness and death is the spiritual infirmity called sin.
Therefore, when the Lord Jesus ministered the Gospel during His time on earth, we read in Luke 9:11 of how He “spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.” The Lord Jesus preached the Gospel of the kingdom of Heaven so that any obedient hearer may submit to God and obtain forgiveness of sins and the gift of everlasting life. The miracles of healing which He did were signs to authenticate His authority as the Son of God to bring the glorious message of the Gospel to the people. Christians, how precious is this message to us who believe!
The Figure of Healing and the Forgiveness of Sins
Many Christian writers describe the world today as we know it as a “sin-sick world.” How does the word of God teach sinners about God’s gracious gift to the faithful for the remission of sins? The figure or metaphor which is in the Bible is that of healing. As the psalmist gives praise to God by saying, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,” the psalmist also says of God that it is He, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” (Psalm 103:2,3). Notice the close parallel between the forgiveness of all our iniquities and the healing of all our disease. The psalmist draws our attention to the close resemblance of the two processes, that of having sins forgiven, and the other of having our illness healed.
The Prophet Isaiah wrote this when he spoke of the atoning work of the Messiah that “with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). A sinner in his or her state of unbelief is like a person afflicted with a fatal disease. The only hope of a cure is to address the problem of sin, and God has graciously accomplished that work by sending His only begotten Son to die on the cross. Knowing this then, we ought to respond in a way that is glorifying to God. Firstly, if we have heard and responded to the call of salvation, let us walk worthy for Christ our Lord. Let us render gratitude to Him by shunning sin and ungodliness, and living in obedience to his word.
Secondly, like the many front-liners who labour to bring help and relief to those afflicted by the Covid-19 disease, we too can serve as front-liners in His kingdom. We can do so by bringing the good news of salvation to those dear to us who are still in darkness. We can tell them that by faith in the Lord Jesus, they too can know the joy of salvation and the forgiveness of sins.
Let us continue to labour for as much as we know that our labour in the Lord is not in vain. May God be glorified.
Dn. Ben Lim Seh Beng