I am almost always sick. I have several small medical problems that I cannot get treated and so I am often dealing with symptoms of pain, fatigue or malaise. People pray with me all the time for healing, and for that I am so grateful. But often those same people quote a line of scripture to declare that I will be healed. And if I didn’t know scripture I would be devastated because of it. I would think I was failing my Lord and that He didn’t heal me because I was doing something wrong.
The line they quote is “by His stripes we are healed.” It comes from Isaiah chapter 53 verse 5. The entire verse reads,
“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”
He (Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions, our sins. He was crushed for our iniquities, our sins. Upon Him was the chastisement, the punishment, that brought us peace, a restored relationship with God. And with His wounds we are healed, made whole. Why would the rest of the verse speak of removing sins and restoration with God and this one line talk about illness? It doesn’t. It is still in the same sentence of Jesus punishment bringing us to peace with God talking about that relationship. Jesus wounds were made to heal or restore our relationship with God. It is a spiritual healing, not a physical one.
God does heal physical illness, but not all illness. I have seen wonderful and miraculous healings. But He has reasons for letting some people have physical sickness and weakness. Look at Timothy. He suffered some sort of stomach problem. Paul didn’t chastise him and say, “Christians shouldn’t be sick!” He offered advice for alleviating the symptoms. He did this while he told him not to judge harshly the elders, or assume anything based on partiality. Timothy was leading a pure life and that and lend itself to legalism, self-righteousness, and bias. Paul encouraged him not to let that happen by adding some health counsel. 1 Timothy 5:22-23 reads,
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)”
Paul himself suffered from something, we are not sure what it was but God allowed him to suffer with it in order to keep him from becoming prideful since he had been caught up to the third heaven and seen things no one else had or has. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
I hate being sick. But when you take scripture out of context and misuse it to claim promises that do not exist it hurts me. If I didn’t know God, and know scripture, hearing that misguided phrase would make me try to figure out what to do to get on God’s good side. It would make me try and be good enough for God and I would miss the beauty of the truth of Jesus.