Like a lot of questions about God, there's no simple yes or no answer to this.
Of course we’re all familiar with “wealth and health” preachers who teach that everyone should be healthy. Apparently it’s the Lord's will to heal everyone, and if you just go to them, then they have special authority, in fact the same authority as the apostles, to heal anyone they encounter. If someone just has enough faith in God’s promises (and gives the right donation to their ministry, naturally), then they’ll be cured of everything from bad backs to cancer. Words escape me to describe how angry I am at these charlatans, and I’ll tell you why.
I remember as a kid going to a movie based on the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. In case you’re not familiar with her story, she dove off a cliff early in her youth and had an accident in the water that permanently paralyzed her from the neck down. Through the help of friends and family, the Lord reached through her bitterness and brought her into a place of incredible ministry. She learned how to professionally paint with her mouth, and her nation-wide ministry has brought countless thousands of people into God’s kingdom and into a higher level of devotion. You can just google her name and see what God’s doing through her. And I think of my favorite hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, who was blinded moments after her birth by a doctor’s incompetence. She wrote such hymns as Blessed Assurance which have brought countless millions over the centuries into the presence of the Almighty. I'd love for one of these con artists one day to meet Joni and tell her that the reason why she’s stuck in that wheelchair is because she doesn’t have enough faith. I’d like to unload about what I really think about these people, but this is a G-rated blog.
But does God still perform miracles today? Of course he does. I have a good friend who was healed from tumors, and the doctors were completely flabbergasted and couldn’t explain it. But is that his normal practice? No. As I talked about before, his normal method is to work behind the scenes and through people. The instances of him operating openly, e.g. during Jesus’ ministry, are few and far between.
And even when Jesus was here, he didn’t heal everyone. Read today’s passage again and take note: There were lots of sick people there at the pool, and Jesus passed most of them by. For his own mysterious reasons he only chose to heal that one man.
He's perfectly capable of healing everyone, but that isn’t his purpose right now. He's allowing us to experience some of the effects of sin, and that includes sickness, weakness, and death. For his own purposes, he does choose to heal some people in this life. Everyone else who believes in him will have to wait until he returns and gives us all new bodies.
Does he have compassion on those of us who have to experience sickness? What do you think? Knowing what you know about Jesus, how do you think he views our infirmities? The Jesus we know is the Jesus from the Gospels, and he hasn’t changed. If you’re going through sickness, especially chronic issues like I am, then it’s good to know that he’s here with us. He hasn’t abandoned us. Like Job, we don’t always understand what he’s doing, but we know him, and that’s enough.
Lord Jesus, you're so full of compassion and grace towards us, but your ways are awfully mysterious sometimes. Please help me to trust. You’re worthy of it, and I know it.
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