Over the past several days, the World Health Organization officially designated COVID-19 (or the “coronavirus”) as a pandemic. Not only are many people understandably concerned about getting the virus, but more than that they wonder if they will recover from it. Or for Christians, many are wondering whether God will heal them or not if they get the virus.
However, this is in no way a new concern. I would imagine that everyone at one time or another wonders “will God heal me of this?” when they get seriously sick or injured. In fact, the topics of sickness, healing, and prayer are some of the most common in many church services and prayer times. If you listen to pretty much anyone’s prayers, you’ll hear requests for God to heal someone of something.
Does God Promise Healing?
So, will God heal us of a sickness — especially something as significant as the coronavirus or cancer?
The short answer is... maybe.
Maybe our immune systems will fight the sickness off naturally in a few days or weeks or the medicine or treatments prescribed by doctors will fight off the disease over time. Either way, even if our healing took place in a natural or medicinal way, we must remember that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17, ESV).
God is the one who designed our immune systems to provide a powerful defense against sickness. God is also the one who gave intelligence, knowledge, and skill to medical workers and scientists.
Or maybe God will choose to answer our fervent prayers and work supernaturally (but still in accordance with his permissible will) to remove the disease immediately or over time. Many verses in Scripture seem to offer us a chance for this kind of healing, such as when James says,
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 5:13–15).
Or maybe God will not heal us. Maybe our immune system will be too weak, medicine and treatments will not work, doctors will not be able to help, and nothing supernatural will take place. Maybe the disease we have will eventually take us out of this life.
So, no matter how God chooses to work in response to our sickness and prayers of healing, we can be certain of these five truths:
1. We Can Praise God Anyway
No matter how life turns out, we are only responsible for our response. As Job determined, we should be careful to praise God whether we receive good or “evil” from the Lord (Job 2:10).
2. God Is Able to Heal (If He Wants)
We can be certain that the same God who created all things also sustains all things in accordance with his design and plan. May our hearts be as confident in God as the prophet Jeremiah when he prayed,
Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. There is nothing too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:17, ESV).
3. God Will Be Glorified through Our Sickness or Health
The story of Joseph in the Old Testament reminds us that even if we suffer in this life and even if what we consider as “evil” happens to us, God can and will use it to accomplish his plan and be glorified through it.
Jesus himself is our example in this when he prayed in agony to God in the shadow of his crucifixion and death “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, ESV).
4. We Will All Be Healed One Day
The pessimist might say that we will all die one day, but the realist trusts that when we die as Christians, we will all experience such glorious, eternal healing in Heaven that will cause us to forget our suffering on this earth. God promises that one day:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4, ESV).
5. There Is No Need to Worry
As Kyle Bueerman wrote in this article, “For the follower of Christ, there is no room in our worldview for panic. This world is not our home. Our hope lies not in government leaders, in sports teams, in good health, or in the stock market.”
Instead, our hope lies in Jesus Christ who not only defeated sin, death, the grave, and hell, but he is alive today hearing our prayers. And that same Jesus declares to us (his followers) still today:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:25–34, ESV).
What Does This Mean?
So, will God heal me or you if we get a virus, disease, or cancer that the world even says is “incurable?” He might or might not in this life. But the great hope that we have as believers is that as we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, we can trust that no matter what happens, God will be glorified, his plan will be accomplished, and we will reap eternal rewards in Heaven where we will most definitely be healed!
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Robert Hampshire is a pastor, teacher, writer, and leader. He has been married to Rebecca since 2008 and has three children, Brooklyn, Bryson, and Abram. Robert attended North Greenville University in South Carolina for his undergraduate and Liberty University in Virginia for his Masters. He has served in a variety of roles as a worship pastor, youth pastor, family pastor, and most recently as the Lead Pastor and Planter of Village Church in Churchville, Virginia. He furthers his ministry through his blog site, Faithful Thinking. His life goal is to serve God and His Church by reaching the lost with the Gospel, making devoted disciples, equipping and empowering others to go further in their faith and calling, and leading a culture of multiplication for the glory of God. Find out more about him here.