I come from a family of physicians and dentists. I believe in the great advances of modern medicine. Heart surgery alone should convince everyone that modern Western medicine has made incredible progress and advanced human health in many ways. Furthermore, I do not reject the role that medication and drugs can have in the healing process. But I do question our almost total reliance upon these accepted patterns of treatment without being open to new science.
Anyone who reads the history of science in general, and the history of medicine in particular, knows that a great deal has been advanced, accepted and then changed over the years. This is the nature of real science and thus a major part of what makes it so exciting for earnest researchers and practitioners.
To site just one example, there was a time when electrotherapy was used extensively in treating various illnesses. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, when batteries, and other similar devices, were being developed to produce energy, medicine tried to produce machines that used energy to heal the human body. Popular magazines touted what was called radioesthesia. By 1894 over 10,000 physicians were using this science. But the ideas proved unsuccessful and were ultimately abandoned based on the evidence that little good was actually being done.
In 1895 D. D. Palmer created a science that we call chiropractic. I grew up hearing that chiropractic treatment was pseudo-science, and thus mostly bogus. I understood next to nothing about chiropractic so, like many Christians who know so little about what they so often pontificate about, I rejected chiropractic as heresy. But D. D. Palmer’s basic ideas have proven, over the past 100-plus years, to be extremely useful, and very popular in the last twenty years. His theory was based on the flow of energy in the body. He focused on the vertebral column as the conduit through which the spinal nerves passed and thus provided information to the body. He developed skills by which he could assess and fine-tune this flow of information by adjusting tensions in the backbone which relieved pressures and allowed the body to heal more naturally.
The medical profession rejected D. D. Palmer, much the same way they rejected homeopathy and radioesthesia. Why? The answer is complex, and thus defies simple answers from either side, but surely we can assume drugless practitioners were threatened by this new science. By 1910 the Carnegie Foundation published a famous report that called for all medical practice to be based on “proven science.” Bruce Lipton, once a professor of mainstream medicine at the University of Wisconsin, is a physician who has changed his thinking about this new medicine. Lipton writes: “Because physicians had not yet discovered the quantum universe, energy medicine was incomprehensible to science (Lipton, The Biology of Belief, page 119). Thus the AMA denounced everything from chiropractic to all other questionable forms of medical practice based on energy-based theories.
But now the medical world is changing, sometimes in ways few of us can keep up with from day-to-day. In 1990 chiropractors won a lengthy court battle with the AMA, proving that the AMA had engaged in illegal attempts to destroy their profession. Since 1990 chiropractic has spread rapidly. Now many insurance companies cover it and an increasing number of hospitals and physicians recommend it. And despite the discredited claims of radioesthesia in the late 1800s neuro-scientists are conducting some pretty amazing new research in the whole area of vibration (energy) therapy. Could it be that the brain, long known to be a mysterious electrical organ, is in fact subject to energy in ways that we do not yet understand? I think the answer is obvious.
While I was reading Dr. Lipton's engaging book I did my own Internet reading and came across a number of attacks upon the man and his work. Some of the criticism is fair and needed. Some of it is predictable and common from the medical community. Lipton is seen by some, if you care to go further with his name on the Web, as a quack. Here is how one mainstream scientist describes him and his work:
"Dr. Lipton claims that illness can be cured by mere belief. This isn't only nonsense; it is incredibly unprofessional and irresponsible. This is the equivalent of a TV Evangelist banging his palm against the foreheads of cancer patients, pushing them back down in their seats and proclaiming them cured, only to then say later to an investigating reporter who mentions that the patients later died that the Lord's magic stopped working because doubt entered into the hearts of the disbelieving patients. What an incredibly cruel sentiment. "
If this critic had read Dr. Lipton then I think this is not what he would have discovered. I read him and do not hear him saying this kind of thing at all. He sells his views with the passion of an evangelist, like so many in his field, but he has discovered some things that excite him. The thing that truly makes him an outsider is not his zeal, or even his mistakes about subjects like water, but his rejection of the "medical model" that is accepted by the establishment as settled fact.
Lipton believes that what is needed is serious interdisciplinary research in this new field of science. But this will not happen over night. Lipton believes this research needs to bring quantum physics to the table, as well as chemistry, biology and electrical engineering. (That doesn't sound like quackery to me.) I think he has to be right about this, at least in general. Such research has the promise of healing our bodies without all the dangerous side-effects of some drugs. Please note: I do not reject the use of drugs. I use them, but with more discernment and care than I once did. I recommend the same to you. Become genuinely proactive in understanding what a drug does and how it can harm you. (Those nasty "side effects.") By the way, use vitamins, minerals and herbs with care since they all have side effects. We are a pill-driven society and many of us have simply replaced pharmaceuticals with vitamins and herbs in pill form.
This all seems rather obvious to me now but this is still not so with many scientists. And this is especially the case with some Christians who have not thought about this deeply enough. We are no
t simply inert material bein
gs! Lipton says what I feel so powerfully that I can do no better than to quote him: “When I gave up the view that we are inert matter, I realize not only that the science of my chosen career was out of date, but also that I needed to promote more constructive interference in my own life” (Lipton, The Biology of Belief, page 121).
Lipton's sentence literally jumped off the page at me when I first read it. I now realize that I need to promote “more constructive interference in my own life.” I need to address how I use my mind, what kinds of energy I expend it on, and how I can/should take responsibility for my own health in a new, pro-active, way. A physician interviewed me recently for a course I am going to take in July that relates to this whole subject. He asked me a powerful, but very simple, question: “What is the difference between taking a pill and taking a training course on your health?” I answered: “Taking a pill is entirely passive. Taking a course that has action steps is taking personal responsibility.” I then realized that if I had not answered his question in this manner he would not have deemed me ready to learn what he will now teach me.
By the way, I think every minister ought to stop preparing pills for their people who passively listen to them talk. We who care for souls should begin to equip and train people in how to understand and use the great truths given to the people of God by the dynamic power (energy is the Greek word here) of the Holy Spirit. We can all begin by “more constructive interference in
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You quoted Lipton: “Because physicians had not yet discovered the quantum universe, energy medicine was incomprehensible to science” (Lipton, The Biology of Belief, page 119).
Pastor Armstrong: What is quantum mechanics if it is not science? Where have we learned about electrons, protons, quarks, spin, etc. if it was not from physicists studying small particle physics?
I see on Amazon that Lipton’s book is lauded by a reader who also lauds “Saved By The Light” by Dannion Brinkley and the books on the metaphysical properties of Crystals by A. Melody and Judy Hall.
We say “a man is known by the company he keeps.” One is also known by those whom others see as similar to you.
Pastor, do you really want to go with Lipton?
“Lipton believes this research needs to bring quantum physics to the table, as well as chemistry, biology and electrical engineering. (That doesn’t sound like quackery to me.)”
Maybe you would benefit by talking with some physicists at Wheaton about Lipton’s ideas–particularly his use of quantum theory.
Of course, we are not inert matter—that surely is not an insight, is it? Just whom did he say asserted that people are “inert matter”? No one I know confuses people and limestone.
In full disclosure, I do not go to Chiropractors, I do not much frequent the health food and vitamin stores.
I also try to avoid doctors. If at all possible. And like you try as much as possible to minimize the use of pharmaceuticals.
BUT, this article and your conclusions are correct. When you cited: “more constructive interference in my own life.” you cited correctly. The fact is, we are too willing to rely on “professionals” to fix what God gave us.
Now, I know by Emil’s note that using Quantum Physics to explain or justify the use of word and sound to change things seems to be a problem for many. Many people had a problem that a Man (he was fully a man) spoke to dead people, to crippled people and paralyzed people and with just sound and a word of authority commanded them to rise up. They did. Even Lazarus dead for four stinking days did.
And then, if I read it right, we are instructed to do the same with the same authority. Exactly the same.
How much more in our own bodies. We provide ammunition to the enemy when we say, “My Arthritis is acting up”, “My allergies are acting up again”, My high blood pressure is out of whack, my back pain is hurting me, those migraines I always get are back again, I get them every year about this time”.
We are acting out a Name it and Claim it theology to our disservice.
The ailment attacking you is not yours to claim. You are not the sick trying to get well, you are the well imposed on by dis-ease that doesn’t belong in your life.
This is not some far out Pentecostal thing said by some faith healer. Many have rejected and criticized these things and therefore invoked a curse on their life. Only repentance from the criticism will remove that curse.
This goes way back to King Asa.
2 Chronicles 16 12In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 13And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.
Or the woman with the issue of Blood. 12 years until she was flat broke. If we are unwell, the first place to go is NOT the Doctor, we must turn to He who hath made us. Not in prayer. It is NOT theologically sound to pray for the sick. Or even for ourselves for healing, but to do as Jesus and his Apostles did, speak words, commands to the ailment in question. Prayer should be used to come into agreement with God’s purposes and to build faith, (that’s the prayer of faith in James) but not for healing. He has already provided for healing even as he has already provided for salvation for all flesh. So to ask God to provide what he has already provided is bad theology. And is a lack of faith.
I go to Doctors, but it’s a last resort and usually I get better in spite of them.
Now, to the point. What does sound and words have to do with this?
I said in my last comment that you were very very close to the truth. If you make this leap of faith, you will have swallowed the RED pill..
From the Matrix
“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
That rabbit hole goes a long way….. and you can go there… It’s going to take a leap of faith.
Most of what you thought you knew and understood will have to be set aside as you come into a new dimension. First barrier will be Pride. It’s painful. Sacred cows will lie dead all around us before anyone can get to the truth of this.
Or you can take the blue pill….
“you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe”.
It’s a choice. Red or Blue? There is no compromise. It’s either or, not both and. You are close to the truth.
These two very divergent responses represent positions I simply do not hold to personally. I know Gene and count him as my friend. I do not know Emil.
Gene is actually more right than wrong but there are some fundamental category errors in his response. I can not take the time to deal with such mistakes here. (Maybe I shall write on this someday but honestly I am not that interested my brother. I have told you my views before and remain convinced of the same still.) Very simply put, I do not see health in these terms. And I do not read the text of the Bible this way nor do most biblical theologians I know. Gene clearly differs and just as clearly believes he understands these ideas biblically. I humbly respect his view but do not agree. This is a case where Protestant individualism shows how easily we can, and do, come to very different views on what the Bible really says and means. I can’t begin to explore this here but this subject interests me as a theologian much more. The radical individualism of our way of arguing and debating the faith is very hard to defend at all.
Emil rejects my citations because of who said what, thus his argument is a type of ad hominem if there ever was one. He further suggests that I may be going for the New Age in some (potential) way. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you care about me as a person Emil then you should not worry about this danger. If you do not care about me as a person then why write? And if you care about me as a person deeply then write me in private.
If you read my blogs, as I think you do, you should realize by now that I am not an amateur Christian thinker messing with New Age ideas. Your response is particularly troubling since you evidently do not get the “sense” of this blog site or you would not lecture me with four responses. I posted your words with hesitation but felt it was a measure of fairness to thousands of readers who like to see a range of response. Yours is surely on one very strong end of that wide range.
As for the inert matter comment you have misunderstood my point of reference, which I very likely could have made much clearer. The whole point here is this: Modern medicine is slow to embrace change. It does not see the soul in medicine. It is rooted in a kind of determinism that treats the body as a complex set of parts, a very philosophical stance rooted in Descartes, who pioneered this thinking that led to modern medicine, both the good and the not so good. This is true and does not lead me to the New Age nonsense that Lipton, or anyone else for that matter, advocates.
There are good reasons for my response to the benefits and problems of modern medicine, as well as some not so good reasons. I may listen to some bad ones but I will keep reading and trying to learn. It is my nature to listen to people I do not agree with because they often say things that help me change my mind.
It seems apparent that you too (Emil) have a strong view about these issues and it is one that many intelligent people embrace. (I never, of course, suggested otherwise.) This is why I posted all four of your comments, an usual response to say the least, to a short two-part post.
In my own experience as a chronically-ill person, I have found emotional and spiritual release in prayer, but not physical release. I currently see a doctor of chiropractic and an osteopath (full MD) who practice “blended” medicine. Both are Christians, and both work together on my case.
I have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue symdrome, and fibromyalgia. I was bedridden for months and wheelchair-bound for several years. I was diagnosed at age 36 and am now 43, the homeschooling mother of four children ages 9 to 17.
I have prayed to get well. I have been anointed by a group pf elders twice and by an Anglican priest on a weekly basis for five years. But somehow it is not God’s plan for me to be healed, although through blended medicine I have improved to only using a cane most of the time. I rely on strong narcotic pain relievers (8 methadone pills daily, to be precise) in order to function at all.
My HMO’s answer was that “it was all in my head” and sent me to a psychologist because “they have more drugs available.” Only through a blended approach have I been able to get out of bed and function at about 50% of normal.
My osteopath refers to the medical establishment as “the dinosaurs” as they are unwilling to change their ways of thinking in order to improve patient care. Blended medicine seems to be the way to go, in my book anyway. We need both traditional and natural healing available for patients, no matter their diagnoses. It’s all about balance.
I won’t get into the “name it and claim it” evangelicals who have told me that I obviously have no faith since I have not been healed. As much as I would LOVE to live pain-free, God’s sovereignty trumps all. If He uses my illness for His glory, “He also provides a way for me to stand up under it.”
I also wrote about chronic illness this week on my blog if anyone is interested:
2 Cor 4:16-18
Susanne’s comments are courageous, Christ-centered and a wonderful reflection of my own experience. I have not had symptoms as severe as Susanne’s but I have experienced the same trials and entered the same valley of struggle and darkness that she writes about. I have sought not to talk about all of this for a number of reasons but Susanne has demonstrated the Christ-centered way of writing about her own trials. Her confidence in God’s sovereignty is mine too though she seems to be head and shoulders ahead of me in this area. Thank you for using what strength you have to minister to all who will read your words Susanne. May the God of all grace grant you strength and blessing.
As for the medical part of this comment I also agree with Susanne. Her names illnesses here are all resistant to traditional medical answers, generally speaking. Complimentary medicine is not the “cure all” that many think but it does offer more “tools” for wise doctors who want to see the whole playing field more broadly and truly help their patients with similar “untreatable” illnesses. When the medical profession says, “This is in your head and you need more pills” there is a significant problem. (One reason for this problem is the cost of medicine and the need to see many patients in an hour. The modern family physician often does not have the time to practice the healing arts in the way we knew when I was a child in the 1950s. This is an issue that should be at the heart of health reform but there is not enough concern to address it.)
From me, I simply cannot see why so many Christians are so unwilling to adopt the perspective that Susanne clearly holds. She, and I, are clearly not promoting New Age ideas. How anyone could read her comments and associate this with her comments would be beyond my ability to honestly understand.
Thus Susanne’s comment plainly articulates MY essential point(s) in these two posts. I will follow these up with another post (next week), regarding my general perspective on complimentary medicine.
I love you my brother and you are one of my favorite writers on this list.
In actual practice, it sounds like your church calls out in faith, healing which is not seen but already given (pragmatically, I’m sure you’ve seen people healed).
We also anoint people with oil and pray for people as James 5 describes and we pray in faith what we do not see as if it was seen. We do ask God to heal people and we also have seen many people healed. People viewing one as simply hyper-faith or the other as simply unbelief I don’t believe is helpful.
But I do want to describe an encounter I had with a missionary not that long ago. I was at my friend’s church which has links with word-faith preachers. This missionary went on to chastise other ministers who had healed many people but from his perspective, did not have the faith for their own healing—-they died. I find this wrong on several levels but I will go on.
His sermon was on Rom.4:18-21. The preacher said that Abraham walked by faith by not claiming his body was sick and did not walk in unbelief that his body could not reproduce even though he was an old man. He went further and said if we claim we are sick or powerless, we have no real faith or real hope in the power of God.
What I found interesting was how he glossed over v. 19 which says, “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.” He did not say, “I am already healed and the fact is my body is not sick or dead.”
In the end, I think there is something to learn about faith from word-faith people for believing God for the impossible but I also believe there is something to learn from chronically ill people who still demonstrate the glory of God, even in their illnesses or physical disabilities. Joni Erickson is one of many who has always been a reminder of God’s glory, even in a broken body.
Hi Chris, I remember you..We’ve met.
It might surprise you to know that I reject much of the word and faith people teach that results in people believing that if they just had Enough faith they would be healed. So the blame is squarely on them. Hogwash.
You mention Joni. Mighty woman of God. Used for His glory.
Now the question is, when she changes worlds and ends up before the throne, will she be in a Wheel Chair or will she walk in heaven?
I will answer that…Walk.
You will, I will, My bedridden father at 92 will.
Suzanne will. All who read this will be whole in heaven. No pain. No infirmity. In a glorified body.
Yet, we say that God uses our pain for his glory. He can, but that would be pretty sadistic of God to Strike Suzanne down on a bed of pain so he could somehow get twisted glory from that. It is to her credit the confidence in HIM that she is able and willing to walk out all God has for her here and now. She’s on the right track.
To the point. It is NOT word and faith to believe what the Bible says and what Jesus said when he instructed us to pray, “Thy Will be done ON EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN”. Now if Joni is healed in Heaven, if Suzanne will be. Then is it wrong to reach out to the yet unfulfilled will of God for healing? We will be instantly, Eventually or Ultimately. I think contending for this side of the veil is within our authority. On earth as it is in heaven.
Not everyone is healed. That doesn’t mean we should stop praying, believing, speaking out, making commands of the flesh. Bringing it under submission to the Will of God.
We should. Mark 16. It’s commanded.
Just because we have not yet seen the manifestation of his healing that doesn’t mean we are to be less diligent. ASK SEEK KNOCK. It’s a process. It’s a quest.
I have shared this with John. A year ago a Tumor appeared in my body. I’m 64 years old. It caused me to rethink, rehearse, review all I thought I knew about healing.
As a result I am more militant than before. Yes, it’s still there. But, I am not the sick trying to get well, I’m the well doing spiritual battle with a space invader, my space.
Let’s talk more about this. I want to encourage the other brothers and sisters in believing God even if you don’t see at once.
Jesus asked, “WHAT DO YOU SEE” The man he had just commanded to see said, “I see men as trees walking”.
We must press in. This is the will of God for your life.
“Dr. Lipton claims that illness can be cured by mere belief. This isn’t only nonsense; it is incredibly unprofessional and irresponsible.”
Please, somebody tell me if I’m totally missing the boat here, but isn’t this part of the placebo effect?
“Yet, we say that God uses our pain for his glory. He can, but that would be pretty sadistic of God to strike Suzanne down on a bed of pain so he could somehow get twisted glory from that.”
I agree with the sentiment behind this statement. I will not pretend to understand God’s purposes in the suffering of another person, especially one whom I do not know.
However, we cannot deny that God’s love can be severe. At times, it even looks sadistic. As when he intentionally crucified own Son, whom he loved. He did not merely take an “unfortunate” event and turn it around for his glory. He intended it from the beginning. I also believe he intentionally led some of his disciples to martyrdom by cruel means (Jn 21:19). This is hard to reconcile with common notions of love. Before asking, “What is God’s purpose in suffering?” perhaps we should reconsider the meaning of love.
When does a method of treatment become “proven science”? Is it
* when the current theory about how/why it works is widely accepted by the scientific community?
Or is it
* when the treatment is shown to be effective by an accumulation of evidence through carefully designed experiments and/or observational studies, apart from any explanation of how/why it works?
I would say the latter. Many treatments are proven to be effective long before we really understand why they work.
Aspects of chiropractic, acupuncture, etc. are indeed effective, but for reasons that may be very different from the theories promulgated by the persons who originally invented and promoted them.
In regard to Steve’s question, placebo effects are real and powerful. I’m sure that some of the alternative therapies that people swear work for them are high-dose placebos. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In other cases, effectiveness can be an artifact of subjectivity in the measurement of the outcomes. This happens even in randomized experiments, many of which cannot be double-blind.
In practice, people who try alternative therapies rarely have a “single illness.” And they rarely apply just one therapy. Comorbid conditions are being self-treated by a variety of therapies and lifetstyle changes, making it almost impossible to figure out which components of the treatment(s) are active and which are passive.
One reason why the use of drugs is so widespread is is that experiments that can convince skeptics of their effectiveness (e.g., double-blind randomized clinical trials) are relatively easy to design. To design an FDA-acceptable effectiveness trial for an alternative therapy can be exceedingly difficult.
I understand that sometimes people suffer, sometimes people have pain and Many are Martyred.
God uses it in spite of the fact that it wasn’t his best or even his will.
Where I struggle with the “Will of God for Suffering” issue is then, why would we ever pray for someone who is in pain or suffering if they believe that it’s their lot in life, that somehow God has put this on them and he wants them to be in pain.
If it’s God’s will for a person to be in pain and suffering as many seem to believe or perhaps accept then to pray for them, to minister to them would be doing so against the will of God. I’m not sure that’s a good plan.
I’m of the Good and Perfect gift theology. God can use difficulty to refine people but the source of the difficulty is the enemy of our souls.
You only have to read the book of Job to get that.
Satan has to ask permission to attack and God sometimes allows it, not because he hates us, not because he is trying to teach us something (I don’t deny that we learn much about ourselves in suffering) but because SIN in the world allows the enemy to come in.
Once we get this truth settled, God’s will is for us to be well and our pain and torment comes from the enemy, then we can take the proper position in dealing with the issue.
Last, we must be willing to understand that not everyone is healed completely all the time. I just blogged on this today. Sometimes the healing we get is to a Grace sufficient. Jacob walked with a limp. Of course PAUL.
Sometimes healing is Better. Perfection will never come this side of the veil. I still wear glasses and sometimes have pains in my hands. That doesn’t mean I accept this as God’s will. His will is that there be no joint pain and perfect eyesight.
I hope you understand where I’m coming from. I don’t despise or disdain the suffering people go thru. I do think we need to be clear where it comes from.
Jesus went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of….NOT GOD….Acts 10:38
Gene, thank you for a gracious response. I do understand where you are coming from, and I largely agree with you. If someone asked me to pray for them in a time of difficulty, I would probably say things that are similar to what you have written. But not with the conviction of absolute certainty. My problem with these explanations is that they are inadequate to explain the cross of Christ. And if they do not explain how God treated his own Son, how can they explain all the experiences of all those who have been united with Christ? I don’t really expect an answer from you or from anyone else, because questions such as these are very difficult to address. But these questions are real and should not be brushed aside. (Not that I’m suggesting you are doing so.) Our understanding and theology may be largely correct. But sooner or later, every system of human understanding seems to be violated by God himself.
I’d like to make one more brief point with regard to what Gene has written about suffering, and then I promise to bloviate no more.
I think that some Christians (including myself) have made too much of the distinction between God allowing suffering to happen versus God causing it to happen. In a court of law, one who had the power to stop a crime from being committed but did not–especially if it would have been easy to do so–is culpable. When non-believers raise the oft-heard objection that it’s illogical to believe in a God who is simultaneously loving and all powerful, they are usually not satisfied with answers that hinge on the semantic distinction between “allowing” and “causing” because, from the point of view of the person who is suffering, the practical difference is almost nil. And I am not completely satisfied with such answers either.
JLS asked: “When does a method of treatment become ‘proven science’?”
Maybe when profits from the treatment are maximized? He who wins the war writes the history books. I know too many *former* pharmaceutical sales reps for this question to be completely sarcastic.
We have seen pictures of disciples of various religious traditions that beat themselves with bloody whips in sorrow for their sin. Priests in the middle ages did this. Crucifying their flesh. It was a flawed theology. We get that in our Gospel Message. You can’t pay for your own sins.
They believed that the price paid by Jesus on the Cross was insufficient in payment for their sin. So. They add to it by their own sacrifice.
That’s the essence of a cult. Jesus PLUS. We certainly all agree that it is an abrogation of the Gospel to think that we can add to or take away from our salvation be the complete work of the cross in the atonement by our personal Crucifixion. If I were crucified today for my sin, my sin goes unpaid for. I can’t die for my or your sins.
This is why I reject the idea that because JESUS suffered and died on the Cross at the hands of God’s intent WE must therefore be willing to suffer because Jesus Suffered. That argument is not Biblical as I see it.
Of course people do, they were martyred, they suffered. They did so with the understanding that this was a season of life that would end and then there was glory set before them. If we must endure suffering and many of us do, it is with this understanding. It must be coupled with an understanding that this is happening not as punishment, not as some way to crawl up on the Cross with Jesus, not because of our sin or lack of faith. It happens because we live in a sinful fallen world with a devil who hates us and wants to make our life miserable.
We discredit the Father when we say, “It’s GODS WILL for me to be in pain and suffering. That makes of our Father a split personality. On one hand blessing, providing, good God and on another hand a child abuser.
Yes, God IS a God of vengeance and fully capable of carrying out his vengeance with violence on his enemies. I know the Old Testament pretty good and can’t seem to find evidence of God’s violence to his sons and daughters… if they were truly his son or daughter. I only see grace and mercy.
So, while I can see the cross, I can see the pain. I don’t see where it is ever GODS WILL that WE are to suffer and die without recognizing who and what causes our pain.
Sometimes it’s US and sometimes it’s just the world flesh or devil. Even the martyrs who were burned at the stake would testify with their last breath, His Grace is Enough. You know the stories. Grace from what? The will of God?
Think about this and then ask yourself the key question. Is the suffering and Pain I am enduring right now of God or of the enemy? If it’s OF GOD then you should try to suffer MORE, it would be more GODLY. Then you would be no different from those who engage in self mutilation to pay an impossible price for their sin.
I’m not trying to be harsh here, I’m trying to help people who suffer lay the blame for their suffering squarely at the feet of the source of their pain …. It’s NOT JESUS
Gene, I wonder what your opinion then is of Hebrews 12:3-11:
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Thanks in advance for your opinion,
You ask a good question and I will try to answer it.
This passage when used for under girding the idea that we are to accept pain and suffering twists the meaning and purpose of Hebrews 12.
The subject of the passage is SIN. Known sin. Sin that easily besets. Sin that is persistent.
God doesn’t wink at our sin and in his LOVE for us disciplines us. Teaches. Disciples.
If we think we get away with or refuse to deal with the sin that besets God will eventually allow Dianne Sawyer and the Klige lights to show up and expose us. We have seen many examples of this in the past few years.
God is not mocked. Our sin will be dealt with.
So, is pain and suffering discipline? Surely God CAN use pain to discipline but it’s usually temporary. Fleeting.
His best is that WE resist sin even to the shedding of blood.
Look at verse 11 – for the moment. While we are being disciplined it’s painful but not forever. There is a Peaceful Fruit of righteousness that must be the result of the training and discipline.
IF you or I are being disciplined by God it will be pretty obvious what the issue is. I am never in doubt when this is happening. So, unless you can clearly identify what it is in your life that God is trying to correct thru suffering you are not in discipline, you are experiencing grief and sorrow.
That then looks to another passage. Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The price for your pain and suffering has been paid. The intense bed of pain you are on is NOT God’s will for you. I can’t explain WHY, just WHAT.
I don’t question for a second that you have asked God sincerely for relief. I know how that feels. I experience it too.
It goes back to the positional base from which you petition God and deal with the pain. You are not the sick trying to get well, you are the well whole bought and paid for Child of God who is oppressed of the Devil.
When you really hurt it’s hard to remember. I promise you this, the capacity to have faith for being better than you are now comes by apprehending this truth.
I hope this helps.
I pray for you, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your heart will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ
EVEN YOUR PAIN
Gene and anyone else still interested in this thread,
I also have a question regarding the interpretation of John 9:1-3:
9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
I believe that somehow God will be glorified in my eventual physical healing, just as when this man, blind from birth, received his sight. I believe as Job did, “Though he slay me, I will hope in Him” (13:15).
Yet while I wait for that physical healing, God has given me emotional and spiritual peace – “You keep [her] in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because [s]he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). When I do not fix my mind and my trust on Him, I lose that peace, but when I focus on Him rather than on myself and/or my circumstances, then that peace never dissipates.
Anyway, just my two cents, and my experience….
I’m sure no one is interested in this much any more. But, I want to honor you in your question. Even if it’s only YOU, you are worth answering to the best of my ability.
About the John 9 passage.
First this takes the you must have sin in your life idea out of the cause for sickness. But, sometimes people believe that God created him blind so He could be glorified thru Jesus.
He didn’t. Perfection was lost at the rebellion in the Garden. So, sometimes even from the womb people are born twisted. That is another translation for the word Iniquity in Psalm 51. In fact we are all born with a twisted nature, not just for sin, but in physical characteristics too.
So his blindness was a twistedness. Not God storing up a problem to display his Glory. But, Jesus was invoking the Roman’s 8:28 truth. He said that this was able to be turned to the glory of God.
God WILL be glorified in your healing. And, He wants you healed more than YOU DO.
Bless you for the peace of God you have.
Remember this, Like you are the saved who sometimes sins, Not a sinner who hopes to get saved, You are the healed fighting the opression of the Devil, Not the Sick and oppressed hoping to get well.
If nothing else comes of this conversation, I hope that will. Positionally, in the heavenlies you are whole, healed, mighty and fully pain free. It’s time for heaven to come and touch earth. What would that be like? I encourage you to reach toward eternity and apprehend what is ultimately yours anyway. Sanctification is Body, Soul and Spirit….. You deserve it, not because of any good you did, but because of what HE did.
I have continued to read this thread with interest, and I did not want to write again unless I had something useful to contribute.
Where I still differ from Gene is that I am convinced that God does frequently call us to earthly lives of self-sacrifice and purposeful suffering. Not because he doesn’t love us. Not because Jesus hasn’t already paid the price for our sins. He does it to advance His kingdom, to display His glory, to draw people to Himself, to spread the gospel, to sanctify, to confer upon his beloved greater glory in eternity, and probably for many other reasons that we will never understand in this world. This does not imply that we should intentionally seek out more suffering, because this is about God’s work, not ours.
There are simply too many examples in Scripture and experience for me to believe otherwise. For example: In Genesis 22, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It was his will for Abraham and Isaac to go through this emotionally distressing and terrifying scenario, only to be stopped at the last moment. God had many reasons for doing so, some of which we now understand, some of which we still do not. I do not believe that God took any delight in watching Abraham and Isaac suffer. I’m sure it was painful for God as well. This was not just a bad situation, a work of the evil one, that God turned around and used for a good purpose. It was something that he planned and willed from the beginning.
God be with you.
About the suffering in the Abraham and Issac story.
I won’t comment beyond saying, what does the text say? You are reading so much into this that isn’t there. Read the text. Read it in lots of versions. Use Bible Gateway. Go deep.
Why DID God ask this of Abraham? Did Abraham doubt God’s hand? Was Abraham prepared to do what God asked? Did he? What did GOD SAY the real reason for all this was?
To use this as a stretch for an example of God’s intentional abuse of his children is a long long reach.
Brother Gene, I have learned quite a bit from your postings. I admire your zeal, your conviction, and your love for the Lord. But on this point I simply do not agree with you, and to suggest that I am a careless student of the Bible is inaccurate and unhelpful. God bless you.
For a careful and well documented case on healing from a Jewish-Christian charismatic viewpoint is Michael L. Brown “Israel’s Divine Healer” (Zondervan, 1995).
We see many acts of sickness, plagues, destruction, and death by God on his own people Israel throughout the OT and not just on Israel’s enemies. God gave Moses wife Miriam leprosy (Num.12:10-12); and even the good prophet Elisha suffered from an illness and died (2 Ki.13:14) which also shows that righteous people may suffer from disease and illness without recourse for disobedience or chastisement from God.
Job was a righteous sufferer (and we know his affirmities and sickness came from the Devil) but ultimately Job looked at God who is Sovereign over the affairs of man as the one who struck him down.
Then there is David who God causes his new born son sickness and death (2 Sam. 12) as well as viewing his own sickness almost unto death as punishment for his own sins against God (Psalms 6, 38, 41, 118:17-18 etc.).
I just did a funeral two weeks ago for a four month old baby boy. I saw one of the greatest miracles in my life of him being resurrected from death on a Sunday morning and receive a miracuolus healing from his terminal brain tumor to dying on a Sunday morning from a shunt in his brain and complications that followed.
I saw both his Mother and Father give their life to the Lord as well as many others respond to God in positive ways. This boy’s name was Isaiah and I can not help but wonder as I ponder these words from the book of Isaiah,
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are tsken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil” (57:1).
As I apply this verse to this boy’s life, only God knows best in the end.
The original topic of this two part post that generated our conversation was John’s rehearsing this statement:
I now realize that I need to promote “more constructive interference in my own life.” I need to address how I use my mind, what kinds of energy I expend it on, and how I can/should take responsibility for my own health in a new, pro-active, way.
Reading the thread relating to these posts make me wonder if they would agree with John’s quest? Many seem to espouse a theology instructing believers to be passive about difficulty and just allow things to happen without constructive interference that may include Prayer, Declaration and Faith in a God who means to do his people good. It might seem like comfortable theology to just watch things to happen and chalk it all up to God’s Will.
Then why pray? Why study God’s word for answers? Why are we to encourage each other… to be passive?
Even if some decide that this sickness, pain and suffering is His discipline that injures his called out ones, I do NOT. Yet, I understand that: the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil” (57:1). I have known such. But it applies to only SOME cases.
I do NOT agree with a passive “”Oh Well, it’s all God’s Will”” theological position. I believe it to be deception.
Why are watchmen on the wall? What gap are we to stand in? Why must we have faith at all? For what? Eternal Salvation? Once that’s settled I guess there is nothing more to press in for. Nothing more to believe for? Sorry to be harsh. I know I have offended (again). When I cause offense I point to John Wimber’s famous quote: “Whatever offends the mind reveals the heart”. I was in a meeting where after some particularly hard preaching the pastor said, “If I have offended any of you, I am not sorry, I wish you weren’t offended, but you need to ask WHY, the reason for your offense lies in YOU” Most offense roots in pride.
I reject the theology of passivity. I embrace the woman pressing thru the crowd to touch Jesus with her last bit of Strength. Oh that we had more of that passion in the church, a militancy in the pursuit of God.
But that’s just me.
I would encourage you to listen to this LCMS Lutheran pastor’s testimony. He was paralyzed and yet pressed in. We must do the same. God didn’t do this to him, but GOD HEALS. This should build your faith for Healing. He wants you healed, he wants you WHOLE.
Gene, your latest post is a great example of why I like and admire you though we have never personally met. And it reinforces how much we actually agree.
I too reject the theology of passivity, because it is biblically indefensible. I do not pretend to be a theologian. I have not worked out a comprehensive and logically consistent theory of pain and suffering. But when I read and study the Bible inductively, two teachings continually leap out: (a) God allows and, yes, sometimes wills his children to suffer in the short term for the sake of a greater long-term good. (b) We are not called to fatalistically accept bad things in our lives and in the world but cry out to God in prayer and instigate good in the world through prayer. These two principles cannot be inconsistent, because they oexist in so many passages of the Bible.
Last night, leaders from my church gathered for our weekly Bible study. The passage was about Hannah (1 Samuel chapter 1). Two points lept out of the text, plain as day. (a) The LORD had closed Hannah’s womb. (b) Hannah prayed about it, and God used her prayer mightily to heal her barrenness and to bless her nation for generations to come.
I have never been offended by your theological positions, though I sometimes disagree with them. Differing points of view on some issues among true believers are a necessity and blessing; without them how can we learn and grow? I bristled only at your earlier suggestion that, because I had not arrived at the same position as you on this matter, it must be because my reading of Scripture was careless, superficial and riddled with error.
I preach and uphold the authority of Scripture. And I agree with the following statement made by Robert A. Traina (1952) in his excellent little book on inductive Bible study.
“For the Scriptures are really authoritative only if they are used as the basis for formulating one’s beliefs, and not if they are merely employed to support one’s dogmatic positions.”
A few years back, a dear friend and brother in Christ was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We cried out to God in prayer for him to be healed. Within six months, he left his cancer ridden body and went to be with the Lord. He is now 100% healed for all eternity. Would he not have died if we had prayed more fervently or believed more strongly? Only God knows. Was our faith deficient? I’m sure it was. Do I have much to learn about the practice and power of prayer? Of course I do. Can I claim with conviction that for him to leave this world in that manner was not God’s will for him? No, I cannot do so with a clear conscience.
The Corinthian Christians had both bad theology and bad practices. Some of them were struck down with both sickness and death under God’s judgement (see 1 Cor.11:29-31).
The best place to stand is judging ourselves (v.31), not others.
I just wanted to make some comments about Hannah’s suffering in 1 Samuel chapter 1. Careful reading would indicate that Hannah’s main suffering didn’t come from the fact that God closed her womb. The major suffering seemed to have come from the fact that Peninnah “provoked her grievously to irritate her”. This wasn’t just one time thing. “It went on year by year”. The way Peninnah irritated Hannah was to use the fact that God closed her womb.
It seems that Peninnah wouldn’t stop unless Hannah had her own children. In verse 11, she says, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant…” I think the affliction refers to Peninnah’s provocation but not to the fact that God closed her womb. I think Hannah prayed to God to save her from the affliction provoked by Peninnah. Hannah seemed to have reached the point of mental/emotional breakdown because of Peninnah’s constant and pestilent irritation. I think that was her main suffering.
Hannah’s main suffering did not come from the fact that God closed her womb. Her suffering was mainly afflicted by another human being who constantly irritated her with the fact that God closed her womb.
God should not be blamed for our suffering. It may be that we are suffering because we are constantly reminded by pop culture that suffering is bad. I think the Bible teaches us that suffering is good if it is for a good cause.
Yes, I’m sure that Hannah was deeply hurt when provoked by her rival. But the words of others sting the most when they ring true. Her prayer to God indicates to me that what she really wanted was a sign that God remembered her, that God had not forgotten her. She had the love of a devoted husband, but that was not enough; she also needed the love of her Creator. To say that this was mainly a dispute between two women seems to downplay the spiritual aspects of Hannah’s struggle. But that’s just my opinion.