Christian Faith and Health Keeping faith in the face of illness
Can illness come to a person of faith? Is taking medication a measure of my faith? What does healing mean to me? How do I know I've been healed?
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12: 9-10
Faith is an important element in the lives of many people and is a source of strength and well being. This leaflet seeks to speak to people of faith who may be facing challenges with chronic illnesses such as Diabetes, High Blood pressure, Hepatitis C, Arthritis, HIV, Lupus and Asthma among many other illnesses that need constant medication and treatment. This leaflet reflects the invaluable comments, discussions and responses made by Christian faith leaders, people living with chronic illness and health workers. 2
Can illness come to a person of strong faith?
â€œI have been faithful to my God. What have I done to deserve this illness?â€? Many questions can cloud the mind of a believer when faced with illness, coping with illness can therefore be a difficult challenge to face. Illness is not a sign that you do not have faith in God. For Christians, it is paramount to remember that our bodies are flesh and therefore we are still subject to the same natural laws as everyone else on earth. We can still experience hunger, illness, and disease. It is possible to be sick and still be all that God wants you to be. In the bible believers often experienced illness, Job was a blessed man who lived righteously but God allowed illness to come to him to test his faith. Jesus also reveals to us that illness is not a punishment for sin; He healed many people as a sign of His abundant love. It's by His grace that healing is received.
Elisha, a powerful prophet of God became sick for a very long time, even in sickness, his faith was so strong people kept coming to him for healing and prayer. Even as he lay dead in his tomb, another dead man laid beside him was raised to life just by being in contact with Elisha's body. Elisha was still used by God and filled with God's Spirit even in illness.
I was sick you visited me. Matthew 25:31-46 When Job's three friends... heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. Job 2:11 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. Peter 4:1
Is taking prescribed medication for chronic illness a measure of my faith in God?
â€œI've been told I'm diabetic. I'm supposed to take an injection everyday. I'm worried that I may be doubting Gods power to heal me if I take the injections.â€? Taking medication is not a sign that we do not trust in God. When as Christians we take medication for a chronic illness, it is a sign of having a strong faith in a generous and loving God. Medication is one of God's gifts to human kind. In His creation of the universe He has provided us with health giving- plants for our use and has given knowledge and wisdom to physicians. Christian physicians have often testified about God's power in their work. If someone is ill, they are encouraged to take medication and pray for healing as these are signs of faith in a living and giving God.
Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. Ezekiel 47:12 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Jeremiah 8:22
What does healing mean for me as a Christian?
â€œWhen I was diagnosed with HIV I thought I was dying, I was too weak to get out of bed, to cook, to eat. I also was diagnosed with TB. The nurses thought I would die, but thank God; today I am strong and can sing and praise my God. My HIV is being managed well.â€? Physical health is a wonderful blessing and everyone longs to be well. As Christians when we are ill we often pray for healing and health and this is good. However, when healing does not come we may begin to question God's love for us. We must remember that God may have healed us but not in the way we expect. As Christians, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes us whole. No matter what the flesh is going through, the spirit can still praise God. Spiritual health is an inner peace, a sense of wholeness no matter what our physical bodies are going through. A healthy spirit thinks positively and focuses on success. Within illness you can find wholeness and strength in faith.
Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. Malachi 4:2 He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5
How do I know I have been healed?
“I have received my healing and I have no need for these pills. I am throwing them away and I will never again take them. My God has been good to me.” We believe Jesus still heals today, when He heals us it's a wonderful and joyous moment. We want to testify and celebrate as a way of declaring God’s goodness to us. Anyone who believes they have been healed is encouraged to return to their doctor for confirmation of healing before stopping medication. We see an example of this with the lepers who Jesus orders to go and show themselves to the High priest for examination. The physical healings that our Lord Jesus performed left onlookers convinced a person had been restored, so confirmation from a doctor is by no means a lack of faith but actually an act of faith.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Eph 1:3 10
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Matthew 9:35 When he saw them, he said, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. Luke 17:14
Finally... As we serve and seek to understand the ways of God, we hope the message in this leaflet has helped you to reflect on the deeper meaning of faith and a relationship with God even in the face of a challenging illness. We encourage you to work alongside Health Care professionals in managing your medical condition as their aim is to manage your health and not to undermine your faith.
… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 11
Waverley Care African Health Project The Renfield Centre 260 Bath Street Glasgow G2 4JP
Tel: 0141 333 9393 Mob: 0772 398 4209 (Outreach Worker) or 0795 662 0461 (Health Worker) Email: email@example.com www.waverleycare.org
Scottish Charity Number SCO36500