God created a way for sick people to get well by giving the gifts of healings wrought by the Holy Spirit. Yet, this does not mean that this is the one way always favored by God.
Sickness has many facets – both with respect to its cause and to its effect. The main cause of sickness is probably the simple fact that because of the Fall of Man we live in a fallen and challenged world. Likewise, personal sin and misconduct can lead to sickness (James 5:15). Yet, the incident with the blind man in John 9:1-3 brings to mind that we should not make hasty judgments. Answering the question of the disciples, whether the sickness is caused by the sin of the blind or the sin of his parents, Jesus said: “Neither. The works of God should be revealed in him”.
Sickness is multi-layered, this can also be seen in the fact that different terms are used in the bible. For example, the Greek word astheneia denotes sickness, weakness and feebleness of many kinds and can also mean perishability (Luke 5:15, Acts 19:21, 1 Corinthians 15:43). Even the term nosos is frequently used and most likely describes a physical sickness caused by a pathogenic germ (Matthew 9:35, Mark 1:34). The word malikia means weakness or infirmity (e.g. Matthew 4:23) whereas the term kamnoun can first and foremost denote emotional and mental fatigue (James 5:15). Sickness is manifold just as the pathways to healing are manifold.
19 years ago my wife Irene experienced a breakdown- both physically and emotionally – and ended up in a state of depression caused by exhaustion. Immediately we sought the Lord and pleaded for healing. Friends as well as brothers and sisters in the faith united with us in prayer. I longed for God’s intervention by a gift of healing. Nevertheless, in the end I had to admit that one cannot simply get rid of every obstacle trough prayer. Often healing comes about by combining many methods and ways that complement each other. Consequently, Irene had to modify her pace of life, change her habits and adjust her diet. She had to learn to say NO to certain things and to set boundaries when necessary. She took a health cure, received medical support, followed the doctors’ advice and went on medication. All these things made it possible that Irene could undergo a process of healing. During this time, I often longed for instant healing. But instead, I was reminded of a passage of Scripture from Ecclesiastes 12 in which becoming old and weak is bemoaned. I had to learn in depth that all our strength, insight and knowledge are absolutely fragmentary. Ultimately, we are dependent on God who works through his spirit in ways which he chooses.
Another crucial element was that we received as much spiritual and practical support from other people as never before. For example, a lady from the church regularly came to us to help with the household. When my wife said: “My soul does not sing any more. My body is exhausted. My faith is not active any more”, others said: “We will sing for you now. We will work for you now. We will believe for you now.” I am convinced that mutual support and fellowship are widely underestimated elements of healing (1 Corinthians 12:26, Galatians 6:2). Often it is through people that God extends his arms of healing to the sick.
From my point of view we should reach out more intensely for the spiritual gifts. I wished the gifts of healings came into effect more often in our churches. But I also know that through a one-sided emphasis on the gifts an imbalance can occur. Therefore, we ought to take into account the various ways of healing we find in the bible: forgiveness of sin, intercession for individuals, dietary rules, doctors, prayer of elders and anointing with oil, communion, God’s word, prayer of faith, power to work miracles, etc. In all this, we should never try to impress God by believing in methods. Our faith is not based on our achievements, but on our relationship with God