A Commentary on Certain Aspects of Spiritual Healing
Gerald White, Granbury, Texas
Implicit in the belief in God as revealed in the scriptures is a belief in his counterpart in evil, Satan. If one is to look in the spiritual realm for cause effect relationships in human affairs, then it is not unreasonable to expect to encounter both along the way. While this commentary is written from the Christian perspective, it is not intended that the devout from any of the world’s great religions be excluded, since all share this concept of the struggle between good and evil. Satan is seen as the prime source of evil and suffering in the world.
PROTAGONIST-ANTAGONIST: A SCRIPTURAL OVERVIEW
In John 8:44 Satan is described as a “murderer from the beginning, a liar and the father of liars”. John 12:31 describes him as the prince of this world (not a very comforting thought for the inhabitants) and further modifies it to the EVIL prince of this world. In the parable of the tares, Matthew 13:28, Jesus allegorically refers to Satan as the “enemy” who has sown tares amongst the good wheat. Both Old and New Testaments refer to God as our healer hence Satan appears as the originating source of sickness.
A particularly intriguing passage of scripture that would appeal to both biblical thought as well as the latest in up-beat mind-body medicine is that of I Peter 5:7-10 (Certain key words placed in caps for emphasis). “Let him have all your WORRIES and CARES, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that CONCERNS YOU. Be careful – watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion looking for some victims to tear apart. Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord and remember that other Christians are suffering too. After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up and set you firmly in place and make you stronger than ever.” Modern medicine would distinguish between anguish, which is the pain that we feel and anxiety, which is the pain that we fear. From fear is derived worry and, perhaps with some help from Satan even guilt. This is not a good basis from which to win with guided imagery. The scriptures urge us to bear faithfully the pain that we must but let God take away the greater burdens of fear, guilt, anger and hate. I do not believe it possible to do effective guided imagery when one’s mind is burdened with any of the above negative thoughts. Herein lies one of the most powerful tools available to the person with a firmly established spiritual belief system. If one’s own sins can be forgiven by a loving God and the individual can then further clear his or her mind by forgiving all those who have wronged him or her, then there is left a clear and untroubled mind which is then free to develop those beautiful healing images.
SOME COMMENTS ON HEALING FROM THE SCRIPTURES
King Solomon gives sound advice on healing in Proverbs 4:20-22. “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life to those that find them, and health to all their flesh”. Many years prior to that the Israelites were told in Exodus 15:26 that “-I, the Lord am thy physician”. God’s word is the spiritual medicine that is given for our healing. To merely say “I believe in healing” falls short of actually taking the medicine by studying His word and spending time in peaceful meditation. By the same token it is insufficient for one to merely believe in prayer without actually doing it. Analogous to this would be to believe in water but refuse to drink. The belief alone would not prevent death by thirst. This spiritual medicine is available to and will work for anyone who will but take it. It is not a matter of God’s willingness to heal but the willingness of the person to take the medicine according to the directions given. Solomon saw this as a matter of intensely focusing on God’s word and allowing it to penetrate to the heart where it remains to produce healing. Note how much this sounds like our guided imagery techniques. In modern times great progress is being made in methodologies for healing such diseases as cancer with a program by which study, meditation and guided imagery enable the individual to participate effectively in what has come to be known as “self healing”. It is interesting to note that Solomon also wrote in Ecclesiastes that “-there is no new thing under the sun”.
It is absolutely essential that patients not waste time wondering if they have sufficient faith to be healed. Small wonder since the TV evangelists would have us believe that super faith produces super healing. Why then does Oral Roberts need to wear glasses? Just take the aforementioned medicine and keep taking it as prescribed on a daily basis. This is nothing new since we are all accustomed to allowing time for the medicine to work. It is not uncommon for prescriptions to be taken back for refills. Develop an orderly system for praying and stay with it. Your mode of prayer may simply be peace of mind times spent thinking about spiritual things and reaching for a deeper relationship with the infinite and feeling rewarded as you sense your faith deepens. When you feel, as the old spiritual says “Peace like a river” beginning to flow over you then you have set the stage for healing.
I have selected the following verses as suggested places for one to begin. As they are from both Old and New Testaments, this suggests that spiritual healing has been a meaningful presence in the lives of believers for thousands of years.
Exodus 23:25 “-I will take sickness away from the midst of thee”.
Psalm 30:2 “O Lord my God, I cried unto thee and thou hast healed me”.
Psalm 91:5-6 “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day: nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday”.
Psalm 103:2-3 “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases”.
Psalm 107:20 “He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction”.
Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones”.
Isaiah 53:5 “-with his stripes we are healed”.
Matthew 8:2-3 “And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand and touched him saying, “I will, be thou clean”. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”.
Luke 17:12-16 “And as he entered into a certain village, there met with him ten men that were lepers that stood afar off; and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, “Go and show yourselves unto the priests”. And it came to pass that, as they went, they were cleansed”.
Matthew 8:16-17 “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses”.
The enumeration of like scriptures would fill many pages. Stories dealing with some form of healing account for almost 20% of the four gospels. One more in particular must be mentioned since it is central to the theme of spiritual healing as practiced in the so called Church Era.
James 5:14 “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 will raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him”.
Don’t bet on hearing this one preached in a modern, affluential church. To those whose lives have been blessed with good health, this one is easily passed over, but to one stricken with a fatal disease, it becomes one of the most important in the entire Bible. It is controversial, to say the least, and may have even led to many false teachings. Nevertheless, we are confronted by its message and it does have a way of laying it on the line. The central theme of the passage is prayer with attention given to medicinal means, i.e. the use of the anointing oil. Note that the Christian is admonished to seek healing. The indication is that it may be achieved by multiple means. We know that on occasions God heals directly. The scriptures tell us that, as Christians, we have a right to ask God for direct healing. On the other hand, I Timothy 5:23 indicates that God may sometimes use medicinal means for healing. Acts 28 gives a good example of the activity of God in regard to sickness. Paul and his faithful companion, Dr. Luke, are shipwrecked on the island of Meletia. Publius’ father was very sick and Paul “entered in and prayed and laid his hands on him, and healed him”. Undoubtedly, the word soon spread and others on the island were brought for healing. The Greek word “iaomai” is used for the miracle healing while the Greek word “therapeuo” is used for the others. Further, a plural tense indicates that Luke was also involved which may indicate that the medical practice of the times was used on the others by Dr. Luke. We should also note that Paul, himself, did not get the healing he repeatedly asked for (II Corinthians 12:7-10), nor did Paul heal his friend Trophimus whom he left at Miletus sick (II Timothy 4:20). Many of our more financially blessed preachers in our more affluent churches are grateful for the latter references because they let them off the hook. After all, it would simply not do for parishioners to ask for a James 5 style healing in view of the possible political consequences of a disconfirmation. Better to sneak around and try it on the sly, if political loss is to be avoided.
I can’t think of a better verse to conclude this section with than James 5:16. Paul Harvey might call this “the rest of the story”. “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.
I think it proper to say in regard to spiritual healing that it is alright to ask for it, alright to expect it and wonderful when you get it!
This CancerGuide Page By Gerald White. © Gerald White
Page Created: 1998, Last Updated: August 24, 1998