Is Sickness God’s Will?
You may have heard one of the following statements before: “Sickness is God’s will” or “God is using [blank] to teach you [insert lesson here]. You may have even thought to yourself, “God is punishing me for [blank]” as you have looked back at events and tried to make sense of sickness in your own life or the life of a loved one.
It might be very easy for you to agree with these sayings if you have read about the times in the Bible where it seems like God is “inflicting” sickness, death or his wrath on people’s lives. But does that mean that God is actually doing those things to you or your loved one?
What if I told you that all of these statements about God are actually not true?
Have you ever heard something bad about someone and when you met them, you held them at arms length because of it. You filtered everything about that person through what you had heard. What if what you heard was not true? Now consider the consequences about having a wrong belief about God. If we believe God is the one inflicting us, how will we ever come with true faith and expectation for Him to heal us? We can’t. If we don’t truly believe God’s heart towards us is good, we will live a life keeping God at arms length. Welcome to where we are today.
true love can only come from a free will
God created mankind for relationship, but you cannot have a true loving relationship without freedom, and you cannot have true freedom without a choice. When mankind turned their back on relationship with God despite God’s warning, mankind opened the door to sin. As a result, all of creation was plunged into corruption, sickness and pain. (Genesis 3:17, 23)
Parents today understand this when they buy their child a box of cookies as a treat and say, “Just eat one cookie for dessert.” Before they know it, the child has eaten the entire box of cookies and then spends the night in sickness and pain. The parent’s intent was to love their child, but disobedience brought pain instead of joy.
to understand the truth about god, we need to start at the beginning
God’s original plan for mankind was literally heaven on earth: the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:31-2:1, 2:8). There was no suffering or sickness there. This plan was His heart and His intent for creation.
Satan vs. humanity
Before God created mankind, He created other beings with the gift of free-will. Although created for good, one of those beings, called Satan, rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:11-15) and tempted mankind to also rebel against God (Genesis 3:1-7). Satan’s greatest weapon is deception which he uses to create a wedge between God and man. This wedge targets our understanding about the goodness and character of God.
Jesus vs. satan
From the time man disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, God has had to deal with the toxic, corrosive effects of man’s sin. If someone has the Ebola virus, you cannot let them continue to interact with society, no matter how much you love them. Otherwise, you will end up destroying an entire population! The same is true regarding sin. Left unchecked, sin would result in the complete destruction of mankind.
Because God’s plan from the beginning was to be in relationship with man, there was nothing He wouldn’t do to recover it. He sent His son, Jesus, to restore the relationship that was lost for those who want it (Romans 3:23-25, John 3:16, 1 Peter 2:24).
God is so good at restoration, that we often attribute Him to being the cause. For example, somebody comes down with a sickness and cries out to God. The situation leads to a complete life transformation. That person could mistakenly then say that God initiated the sickness to turn their life around, when in reality God just responded to redeem a bad situation into good. We see throughout the Bible that what was meant for evil, God turns around for good for those who love Him and trust Him (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28).
As Christians, we believe that Jesus was the exact imprint of God’s nature (John 14:8-9, Hebrews 1:3). To understand this, let’s go back to our cookie analogy. What’s easier: trying to understand the ingredients on the side of a box of cookies to experience the taste, or sampling one of the cookies instead? God sent Jesus as the perfect sample so that we can truly understand His character and His heart towards His creation (Psalm 34:8).
So if God is not the cause of sickness or disease, why do these things still happen today?
The fall of mankind had a “butterfly effect” on the story of humanity and the world as a whole. What was once good is now broken and corrupted and through our choices, we as humans have further damaged God’s creation (Romans 5:12). Choosing sin always comes with consequence. Most sickness that we encounter on this earth is a result of human choices going back to the original sin. Some sicknesses are a consequence of the foods and drinks we consume, the environment we live in or not taking care of our bodies through proper diet and exercise. Additionally, our enemy Satan is also responsible for sickness in another attempt to deface God and discount His goodness (Rev. 12:17, Acts 10:38, Luke 13:11-12,16). Even though the death-grip of Satan has been broken by the sacrifice of Jesus, Satan is still at work in the world trying to harm as many as he can before his final destruction (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:12). One of the ways he does this is through sickness. (John 10:10). Thankfully, God has given us tools to combat sickness through prayer and faith (Mark 16:17,18, James 5:14-15). He has also graciously given us doctors and medicine. Our inherent desire to heal those who are sick is a characteristic of God.
If God is all powerful, Why doesn’t He stop all sickness?
Consider this simplified example: The USA is unmatched in their military might. Surely the USA could end all civil wars and stop all corrupted governments? The answer is yes, but at what cost? The USA would have to take over each country to do so, removing the very thing that the USA stands for - freedom. Instead, the USA offers aid and support for those who need it while upholding their civil rights.
Now consider God. In order for God to remove sickness from this world completely, He would need to remove all evil. To remove all evil, He would have to eliminate everything that causes evil and take away the ability to sin, which is free-will. That’s why God instead offers a way for people to step out of sin, to be healed and rescued while preserving the gift of free-will.
consider the following:
During His entire ministry Jesus destroyed sickness and disease (Acts 10:38, Matthew 4:24). If sickness was God’s will, He would be working in opposition to God (Mark 3:24-25, 1 John 3:8) and in the words of Jesus “A house divided cannot stand”.
If God’s will was sickness, wouldn’t seeking healing oppose His will? Everyone who came to Jesus assumed it was His will to heal them. Only one man asked if Jesus was willing (His will) and Jesus quickly replied, “I am…” (Luke 5:12)
Jesus never told anyone who asked for healing that it was better for them to continue in sickness to learn a lesson. He always healed. (Matthew 9:35, Matthew 8:16).
There are no records of Jesus failing to heal someone or denying healing to someone who asked (Matthew 14:14, Matthew 9:2).
What did Jesus accomplish on the cross in regards to sickness? He took sickness and sin upon Himself and made a way for us to be healed and whole through Him. (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24, Hebrews 10:14-18, Isaiah 43:18-19).
The next time you hear someone say “Sickness is God’s will,” remember the truth about God: that’s not God!