“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens,” says the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes. We can state that just as there is “a time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant,” there is also a season to be healthy and another to be ill. Certainly, a considerable portion of our human nature consists of being wounded and lacerated by the struggles we face, the imperfections of our interpersonal relationships, and the numerous opponents to our physical and spiritual health and well-being. Fortunately, God has bestowed upon humanity the gifts of faith and medicine for our general health. The gift of faith fosters health and motivates us to surrender to God Almighty. In addition, faith constantly reminds us that the Lord not only desires our health and well-being, but also knows how to give us what we need, and can give it to us.
A reassuring example of how faith fosters health is present in the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 18, verses 35-43). “Now as [Jesus] approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ He shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!’
The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!’ Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He replied, ‘Lord, please let me see.’ Jesus told him, ‘Have sight; your faith has saved you.'” This blind man’s faith in Christ healed him of his blindness.
Analogously, a good friend of mine that had been struggling for years with depression was healed because of her faith in Jesus. She commenced going to Church three years ago when it seemed that her “life [had] become totally meaningless.” I remember engaging in a conversation with her about her adversities and encouraging her to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. She agreed and developed a prayer schedule to visit our Eucharistic Lord regularly during the weekdays. In addition, she approached the sacrament of reconciliation after years of not receiving absolution for her sins. She fervently prayed to God that He would have mercy on her and heal her. Today, she is one of the most joyful and peaceful people I know.
God has also given us the gift of medicine for our health. It should be noted that the appreciation and dependence of this gift should not necessarily be seen as a lack of faith, and these two gifts must not be perceived as contrary to one another. Hence, we Christians can support the notion that medical science and religion should continuously collaborate with one another as people seek to be healed of their ills. It should also be noted that just as science cannot ignore healing and miracles that occur without “scientific” explanations, Christian healing ought to rely on the confirmation of medical science. The book of Sirach (chapter 38) beautifully exemplifies this relationship:
“Make friends with the doctor, for he is essential to you; God has also established him in his profession. From God the doctor has wisdom, and from the king he receives sustenance. Knowledge makes the doctor distinguished, and gives access to those in authority. God makes the earth yield healing herbs which the prudent should not neglect; . . . He endows people with knowledge, to glory in his mighty works, through which the doctor eases pain, and the druggist prepares his medicines. Thus God’s work continues without cease in its efficacy on the surface of the earth. My son, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to God, for it is he who heals. . . Then give the doctor his place lest he leave; you need him too, for there are times when recovery is in his hands.”
I remember sharing this biblical passage with the participants of a charismatic prayer service I facilitated some time ago. During the intercessory prayer for healing, a woman suffering from high cholesterol asked us for prayer. Some developed a strong impression that she was being healed as the prayer of intercession for her was being raised to God. Nonetheless, we emphatically recommended her to continue with her doctor’s advice until she could verify this healing with her medical doctor. For the glory of God, the woman returned with her lab reports several weeks later to testify that Christ had healed her. Her medical physician joyfully confirmed this healing. May God be praised.
Another important matter to consider is that Sacred Scripture tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). Even though many church ministers understand this, I have witnessed some of them neglect their physical health. Sometimes they get so absorbed in their occupations and ministries that they forget to care for their bodies. But God expects us to take care of our physical health by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep. These actions help keep our bodies strong for God’s service, and would potentially allow us to minister to His people for many more years to come.
Nevertheless, anyone can become ill at some point in their life. Illnesses can sometimes discourage us, deplete us, and shake our faith. However, Christ Jesus encourages us during those occasions with His words, presence, and Spirit. He invites us to seek His strength and patience to bear gracefully with our illnesses and to not be afraid to ask for healing. He raises the same question He asked the blind man: “What do you want me to do for you?” Indeed, we may sometimes hesitate to respond because of a lack of faith, hope or trust. However, He emphatically animates us, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)
Let us have courage in the Lord! The Spirit of God desires to empower us to ask, seek, and knock with faith, hope, and trust. May we always draw near to the Lord, and prayerfully shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” And, if His response is delayed, may we keep calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” The Lord will eventually grant us what we need, He will empower us with strength and patience, as well as heal us according to His will, for indeed Christ desires our health.