by Andreas Pantli, Pastor ICF Hamburg
Each of us has struggled with illness in their own way, it is not always openly visible, because there are illnesses that challenge us psychologically, emotionally, and hormonally. Things in our life that don’t run 100% smoothly. Someone fights against an illness, someone else has sleep problems, someone suffers from depression, a couple has been wrestling with their unfulfilled desire to have children for years, and another struggles with their increasingly missing hair, like me, for example.
God comes and speaks into exactly these life situations: He says, “I AM Yahweh Rapha.” Names in the Bible are always associated with authority, and in the Old Testament they are often associated with a calling. God gives himself a name in authority. He introduces himself to us as a doctor by saying, “I am the one who rules over health. I have authority over your body. “ He is the ultimate resource of love, peace, and health. Every ‘name’ of God means not only “you can call me that,” but “that’s me,” or “that’s hidden in me.” His name means “I am authorized and empowered”.
Even in the creation story, the break between God and humans arises, and illness and suffering come into life, transience and pain. But God leads the people of Israel out of slavery and to the place of Elim, full of springs and palm trees. There He says, “Keep to my order, to my commandments, as I originally thought it up. Then I will keep disease away from you.” This place is a prophetic image for all of us: sources of water where we should be completely healthy, where we are free from pain, and from everything that captivates us emotionally or psychologically. God makes it clear at this point: Ultimately, illness is a colossal, global consequence of the fact that people have turned away from God. He does not specifically actively punish individuals – it is the logical outcome because creation has separated from the Creator’s source. Because man has sinned and a whole creation is making mistakes.
Yes, God heals. But even God-fearing people do not always experience the miracle they ask for or are spared suffering, like Jacob, who lost his beloved wife when his son was born.
But healing is fundamentally different because it comes from Jesus himself who prophesied to us in Isaiah 53, “He was beaten bloody because we had broken our faithfulness to God; because of our sins He was pierced. He was punished for us – and we? We are now at peace with God! We are healed through his wounds.”
Jesus comes and heals. A man who many thought was one of the simple prophets. And suddenly they realize that he is on this earth with the full authority of God and says, “I am the ruler and disease has to obey me. And if I say she’s going, then she’s going! “ Here the perfect authority of God speaks of life and death and it happens. I love the story of young men who want healing from Jesus for their paralyzed friend and who defy all circumstances and bring him to Him. They understood what was absolutely crucial: their job was not to heal, but to bring the sick to Jesus. Because when someone heals, it’s always Jesus! But we play a part in these stories, just like the friends did. They are deeply convinced that Jesus loves their friend beyond measure and will see their faith. And Jesus heals in his divine authority.
“I forgive you your sins. I am not just the one who heals you. I will clarify the cause once and for all.” Jesus goes to the cross to compensate for the cause in order to be able to give you and me complete health as a consequence. God takes away the cause of illness so that a creation can step into a new world where there will be no more suffering. But sometimes a theology arises that claims: “God always heals here on earth. It is not at all possible that a Christian who believes is sick.” A huge tension arises.
Paul, on the other hand, was relaxed that God does not always heal on this earth. In 2 Timothy 4:20, Paul writes that he had to leave a co-worker sick without explanation. He doesn’t write that he has too little faith or too much sin in his life. He just leaves it unexplained. Elsewhere he gives his friend Timothy some well-intentioned advice for his health. It is not a comment because of “Your faith is not awakened enough, you still have doubts, it cannot be that you are sick.” He gives him a pragmatic, well-intentioned tip and is completely relaxed about it. Because Paul knows that God has performed blatant miracles, he even trusted when it does not happen the way we humans imagine and wish.
Sometimes God does what we wish and heals us on earth and sometimes beyond, when our body has its last heartbeat here and we wake up in a new world. Yes, God always heals. That is not the question, but he does it sometimes through doctors, sometimes through medicine, sometimes through supernatural intervention. Yes, in the end, God always heals. Sometimes on this earth, but certainly at the latest when we are completely healed and healthy with Jesus with a new body.
Revelation 21:3: “Here God will be among the people! He will dwell with them and they will be his people. Yes, from now on God himself will live in their midst. He will wipe away all their tears. There will be no more death, sorrow, lamentation, and pain; because what was once is gone forever. “The one on the throne said:” Look, I’ll make everything new! “
Regardless of what you are struggling with, God has already determined the end, and over 2000 years ago put all the prerequisites in order on the cross on Golgotha and prepared them. Healing is your gift. Healing is at your disposal. Sometimes God does it here on earth, but at the latest there in heaven.
This article is based on a sermon from the “Alpha & Omega” series, which can be found at www.youtube.com/ICFHamburg (only avaiable in german)