The woman was bent over and bowed down so severely that her eyes could only see the ground. Her infirmity had grown steadily worse for eighteen years. This woman, whose story is told in Luke 13:10-17, had not given up on God. She attended the synagogue to hear the Word of God and this day she met Jesus. She was not seeking Him. Perhaps she was not even aware of His presence in her bowed down condition.
Then she heard His voice. “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmities!” Immediately she found herself standing up straight. The pain was gone. She found herself looking up into her Healer’s eyes and began to praise the Lord Jesus.
It’s not that she was immoral or demon-possessed. Jesus identified her as “a daughter of Abraham.” Galatians 3:6-9 teaches us that sons or daughters of Abraham are those who have put their faith in Christ. Whether we are Jews or Gentiles, if our faith is in Christ for salvation, then we are in Abraham’s spiritual family. If our faith is not in Christ, then regardless of whether Abraham’s blood flows in our veins, we are not his spiritual children. So we would refer to this woman today as a Christian, for her faith was in Christ.
A Christian? Yes! But the record tells us that Satan had bound her all those years. She had given up all hope of recovery and had patiently resigned herself to being this way. This was to be her lot in life. How can that be? Does not Isaiah 53:5 promise us that “with His stripes we are healed?” If you will read the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah which prophecies the crucifixion of Christ, you will see that the healing spoken of in that passage is the spiritual healing from sin. The passage has nothing to say about our physical health. How many Christians have been made to feel guilty for their lack of faith because they are not healed of their infirmities? How wrong and how cruel to tell a suffering Christian that he would be healed if he just had greater faith!
Let’s take a look at what the Bible clearly teaches about Christians and their infirmities. Let’s start with Romans 8:22-23. It is so clear. “For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain until now. And not only the whole creation, but we ourselves also who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our bodies.”
This passage teaches that the whole creation has been cursed by Adam’s sin. That curse is upon the earth itself with it’s storms, droughts, fires, earthquakes and tsunamis. The curse is upon the animals and upon all mankind. Observe the curse of sin all around you. It is recorded in the morning newspapers and described in the evening television news daily. There is no question that the whole world groans under the curse of sin.
But the truth that many Christians fail to see or are unwilling to admit is that though we are free from the condemnation of sin and though we have the Holy Spirit living in us and controlling our lives, are still living under the curse of sin upon our bodies. Those Christians who claim that “healing is in the atonement” are only partly correct. Yes, total healing will one day take place in our bodies when we stand glorified in Christ’s presence. But until then we will continue to groan with our pain and physical maladies.
Read the book of Job and then tell me that God’s people do not suffer pain and suffering along with the rest of the sin-cursed world. The first chapter of that book makes it clear that Satan, under the permission of God, had a major part in bringing suffering to godly Job. As we read the rest of the story we learn that God was glorified in it all.
Paul, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, was also plagued by suffering throughout his life as a Christian. Not only did Paul suffer persecution for Christ, but in II Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul writes of a thorn in his flesh; some incurable malady caused by Satan. He prayed about it three times, but God did not deliver him from it. Instead, he heard God say to him and we hear God say to us, “My strength is sufficient for you; for My strength is perfected in your weakness.”
“Well then”, Paul responds in faith, “Most gladly will I rather glory in my infirmities, that I may experience the power of Christ upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in my infirmities, reproaches, necessities, and distresses for Christ’s sake. (for I have learned) that in my times of weakness, I discover His strength.”
I think of a young couple we knew back in the early 60’s. The Thompsons operated a small Christian book store in
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. My wife and I often visited them, not just to buy books, but to be blessed by them. John, the husband operated the book store from a hospital bed in his bedroom; totally paralyzed and unable to move his arms or legs. Even speaking was difficult for him. He knew his inventory and the location of all the books on the shelves. His faithful, loving wife took care of him and all the details of the book store. What a blessing they were to us and to all who entered their store. God was glorified; not by healing him, but by using him in his weakness.
Yes, healing is in the atonement. Though most of us can improve our health by living a healthy life style; yet ultimately, we will not enjoy perfect health until we are glorified and in God’s presence.