Newspapers across the nation carried a story of an eleven-year-old diabetic boy whose parents discarded his life-sustaining insulin that he had been taking for five years claiming that he had been healed after a so-called “faith healer” had laid hands on him in an attempt to “exorcise demons” and in so doing cure the lad of his disease. Only a few days after his parents withheld the insulin the child died and, at his funeral, his father announced that his son would “come out of that coffin.” Well, the child’s corpse did not revive in spite of two hours of mournful singing of hymns, swaying, shouting, and flaying of arms. It was a heart-rending story of a misguided, deceived people who had bought into false teachings about sickness, healing and death.
The teaching that God does not want anyone to be sick, or that all sickness is of he Devil and can be cured by faith is erroneous and has caused confusion, calamity and crushing disappointment and even disbelief in the hearts and minds of people who have been deluded by such heresy.
God does heal and without controversy all healing ultimately comes from God through His sovereign power and according to His wise purposes. Both Old and New Testaments afford ample examples of healings, even of the raising of the dead. Jesus is seen in the Gospels to have healed multitudes of sick people. The apostles were able to exercise extraordinary healing powers in their apostolic ministries. (Matt. 15:30,31; Matt. 10:8) But apostolic authentication in the form of “signs, wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Cor.12:12) were no longer needed with the completion of God’s perfect Word and the period of great miracles passed with the coming of God’s indwelling Spirit and the completion of God’s revelation. (I Cor. 13:8-10)
So, what about healing today? Faith healing? James, in his epistle, chapter five, gives us some practical and ever pertinent Holy Spirit inspired instructions about what to do today when sickness strikes. And, how it does strike! We are slowly coming out of a pandemic of a deadly virus that has claimed the lives of millions world-wide. It has touched every home, every church, every corner of the inhabited world. Beyond that, all of us have loved ones or friends who have battled with diseases, nagging physical disorders or disabilities for years. When James questions “Is any among you sick?” he has our undivided attention. (James 5:14)
James begins this compelling discussion in verse 13 when he says “Is any among you afflicted?” The word in the original Greek text means, literally, “facing evil,” or “feeling the impact of an evil assault upon oneself.” It is a compound word, the prefix, kakos, meaning evil and the latter part of the word, pathei, from which we derive the English word “pathos,” meaning that which evokes pity or sadness; feeling. James is addressing the affliction of those who were suffering abusive assaults to their person, either physical, emotional or mental. It is the kind of affliction James referred to in James 5:10 when he alluded to the suffering of the Old Testament prophets who suffered unspeakable anguish, abuse and most often death in their affliction. It is the darkest side of evil, masterminded by the evil one, and directed at its victims for the purpose of destruction. James gives the first and foremost solution to this kind of affliction: prayer! Pray for wisdom, grace, endurance and deliverance. Pray for God’s intervention. Pray for the perpetrator and pray for grace and strength to remain steadfast, even unto death. (Rev. 2:8-10)
Then, in the next verse, James 5:14, James asks if there are any “sick among you?” This word, transliterated, asthenai, means either physical sickness (Matt. 25:35) or spiritual weakness as in one who is weak in faith. (Romans 14:1,2,21) “Sick” in James 5:14 can mean either physical or spiritual weakness, the context determining which one is the case. James advises that if there is one suffering, the cure is the same for either kind of sickness: call for the elders (pastors) of the church for prayer. The anointing oil is merely symbolic of the Holy Spirit’s power in the healing process, James assuring the persons involved that “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” (v.15} The word translated “sick” in verse 15 is a different word still, transliterated kamnonta and it most often connotes a weariness or fatigue. (Rev. 2:3; Hebs. 13:3) James admonishes that the spiritual exercise of self-examination and confession of any known sin should, as with all prayer, accompany this prayer session. The healing James assures of when he says “that ye may be healed” (v.16) could be physical as in Matt. 15:28 or spiritual. (I Pet.2:24; John 12:40). The word yathe is used in both of those passages referring to healing, which could be physical or spiritual healing or restoring.
So, one must conclude that James could be addressing any kind of weakness or anemia, either spiritual or physical, in this passage. The solution is the same for either: fervent prayer (like that of Elijah’s), preceded by confession of sin when appropriate, and faith that God will make one’s prayer effectual. (5:16) Seek advice, counsel and care from your family or trusted physician to be sure, but do not forget to pray, first and last.
Most every God-called, Holy Spirit led pastor or Christian worker has been a part of a prayer meeting such as described and outlined by James. And, people have been healed, physically and/or spiritually, demonstrably, because strong prayers of righteous people have been made effectual by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Truly, the prayer of faith does save the sick as God wills. Sometimes He chooses to heal in ways that we had not contemplated. Sometimes the answer does not come as soon as we had hoped. Sometimes, as with the apostle Paul, God chooses to answer “my grace is sufficient” and He demonstrates His power through our weakness. But ultimately whether now or later, here or there, God will heal our affliction and deliver us from our diseases.
“Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7)