By Scott Saunders, M.D.
Cecilia came limping into my office with left knee pain. I examined her knee and found nothing wrong with it, but ordered an x-ray anyway. The report came back showing a normal x-ray of the knee, but a bone lesion was seen just above the knee in the femur. Several tests later proved devastating. She had a bone cancer that was almost always fatal. The surgeon recommended they take her entire leg off at the hip joint – and then start whole-body radiation and chemotherapy. She declined and left the office.
Three months later I noticed she was on the schedule and I was expecting to find a woman with cancer, but I was very surprised when I opened the door. She had both of her legs. She was walking normally, not even a slight limp. I did an exam and found no mass in her leg. I inquired as to what she did.
“When I left your office, I went to Mexico to my family and we had a prayer circle. We fasted and prayed. As soon as it was done I knew I would get better. The next day the knee didn’t hurt me anymore, and I have had no pain since.” Of course, I was very curious to see what her bone looked like so I asked if we could just do an x-ray, but she declined. “I just wanted to let you know I was alright.” She left, and I haven’t seen her since.
This wasn’t my first exposure to a person being healed by the Lord, but it was the most dramatic. The Lord heals all illnesses and all wounds, but we need to have His vision. While we see the healing of the physical body, the Lord cares more about the heart. Each illness, and each healing are given to help us learn and grow, and, ultimately, to heal our hearts.
There are three ways in which God heals us:
- Instant healing of body and spirit.
- Using the knowledge of the world.
- We must wait.
Though all three are miracles, the only the first type, like Cecilia, are generally considered miraculous. Because we have to do something, we often consider the second to be our own efforts, even denying the hand of God. The third is the biggest challenge we have to overcome, but is likely the most important means of changing hearts. Each is a gift from God that requires faith.
The Faith to be Healed
Cecilia had faith to be healed. We have many examples of people healed of terrible illnesses through the power of prayer and faith. Peter would walk down the street and people would be healed by just his shadow falling on them. (Acts 5:15-16)
The Gospel of St. John tells of Jesus spitting on the ground to make mud, applying it to the eyes of a blind man who then washed it off and was healed. (John 9:6-7)
Do shadows heal? Was it the mud? Was it minerals in the dirt? Was it the saliva of the Lord? No, it’s none of these. Those Jesus healed were told, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (KJV Luke 17:19) He gave the credit for the cure to those who were healed. It wasn’t just that He had the power to heal them, but also because they had faith in Him that they were healed. God works among His children according to their faith.
Elijah had faith that the Lord would answer him when he proposed a contest with the priests of Baal. He taunted them as they begged their god to burn up their sacrifice. Then, he had his own inundated with water, lest anyone think there could be any trickery, and prayed while fire came down from Heaven. His faith was in the one true God, whereas their god wasn’t true. The priests of Baal had belief, but lacked evidence, whereas Elijah gave the Children of Israel evidence of the true God.
Those who believe begin to gather evidence for God, and learn who He is. They learn to communicate through prayer and the Spirit. They recognize His voice, and can distinguish it from the voice of man or Satan.
It is a learning process like any other. If you want to talk to Chinese people you have to take the time to learn Chinese. It is a process that requires a great deal of effort, and will not happen just because you show up in China. Faith is like that, we need to learn the “language of the Spirit” over time in order to understand the will of God. Suddenly needing God does not suddenly give us faith, nor does just showing up in church.
Sometimes all it takes is faith to simply ask. Surprisingly, many don’t turn to the Lord and ask for healing.
When the Children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, poisonous snakes came and bit them, and many were dying. Moses went to the Lord and was told to make a brass serpent up on a pole. Any who were bitten needed only to look up at the brass serpent on the pole, which represented Christ, and they would be healed. However, many died because they didn’t believe – they just didn’t look! Thus, many are not healed today because they don’t even have the small amount of faith to ask.
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not… all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:21-22
Faith in what God has Provided
When we pray for healing, God often answers our prayers in ways we don’t expect. If we have faith, we will be able to recognize the voice of the Lord, and receive the gift we desire.
One patient, I don’t remember her name, was vehemently against having chemotherapy for cancer, “I’m never going to take those poisons!” she exclaimed. She was sure God would heal her. Well, events happened as she got worse and her family prevailed upon her to do the chemo – and she got better! We must be willing to use the tools God has prepared for us if we want to demonstrate our faith in Him.
The story is told of a man caught in a flood. As the flood waters rose, the man had to go up to his roof. The water was getting higher so he prayed to God for deliverance. A boat came by, but the man said he was sure God would save him so the boat went on to rescue others. The waters rose more and finally a helicopter came along, but the man waved it on because he was sure God would save him. The waters rose more, he was washed off the roof and drowned.
I had a very similar experience with a woman of faith who was sure God would heal her diabetes. We did some tests and found that with some changes in her eating and exercise, along with some herbs and nutrients she could gain control of her diabetes without insulin. She rejected the program I recommended and to this day is still using insulin.
If we were to catch pneumonia, treatments are readily available so it isn’t reasonable for us to forego such treatment and expect a miraculous recovery. God gives the knowledge we have, and if it is found on the Earth, then we may be expected to find what is already known.
Society grows with more knowledge and understanding over time. Part of this growth is information dispensed from God that helps us to live better.
Only a couple hundred years ago people were treated with all sorts of crazy concoctions, potions, and procedures. George Washington was arguably killed by his own physicians who drained his blood as he lay sick. Old-time treatments for scurvy, which is now easily cured by eating an orange, included mercury, alcohol, barley water, tar water, and burying up to the neck in hot sand (none of which improved the illness, and often made it worse).
Now, we have much more knowledge about the functions of the body, and how to treat and cure illness. Indeed, in spite of the retro patent medicine cartel, doctors can make the blind see, the lame walk, and the deaf hear.
The Faith to NOT be Healed[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’]
Again, when we have faith, it is not in our own desires, but rather in the will of God. The purpose of prayer is not always to ask God to give us what we want, but often to ask to know His will for us in our lives. The Apostle Paul is a good example:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)
The answer came not as Paul desired, but as the Lord willed. Paul, then, submitted to the will of the Lord, kept his “thorn in the flesh” and gloried in it.
Why we are not always healed from all our infirmities.
Our purpose in life is to experience the highs and the lows as we learn and grow through experience. Our hearts are changed gradually as we face life. Paul was given a weakness to keep him humble. There are many other reasons for not being healed.
I acquired a medical practice of an alternative medical doctor who had pancreatic cancer. He did all the treatments he recommended to others, but gradually declined. One day, while I was at his house signing papers he said, “Cancer has been the greatest blessing to me!” Of course, I was curious – he had my full attention! He continued, “Over the last couple of years I have been able to say goodbye to my children, make amends, tie up loose ends, make sure my wife is taken care of, and now I have the peace of knowing my patients are in good hands – what a blessing! If I had died suddenly of a heart attack or something there would have been a lot of unfinished business left behind for others to worry about.” After battling cancer for over two years, he died less than a month later.
On Death and Dying
Eileen had lung cancer filling one lung and wrapped around the blood vessels of the heart. The surgeons couldn’t operate on it so they gave her three months to live. She came to see us for alternative treatments because, as she gruffly put it, “There ain’t no expiration date stamped on my [bottom], and they can’t put one there!” We started a treatment program and two years later she was still working in East LA as a juvenile parole officer. The tumor in her lung shrunk down, but several years later she got multiple tumors in her brain and died.
Because I have over sixty patients in a nursing home, I am often asked to give an expected date of demise. In order to begin a hospice program, for example, a patient has to have a certified life expectancy of less than six months. However, one of the most surprising things about taking care of sick people is the seeming randomness to healing. Some people we think should pull through from minor illnesses die, while others that aren’t expected to last a day continue on for years.
Death is not random or arbitrary, God has perfect timing. After many years of working with me, one of my office assistants said,
I agree; because of my experience with illness I am convinced that our days are numbered. No matter the age at death there are no mistakes. I have seen many people who are bitter and angry at God because of the death of a child, spouse, or loved one. Some said that they prayed with much faith for God to heal them, but He didn’t, and they completely lose their faith, while others come to know that it is the will of God and find acceptance and peace.
Healing the Heart
The purpose of prayer is to come to understand the will of God. When we fast and pray because we, or a loved one, or even a stranger is sick, we are seeking to know His will. If we come to understand that He desires the person to be healed, we can put our faith and trust that it will be so. If the Lord tells us that the person needs to seek knowledge He has already dispensed to man, we can exercise faith in learning these things. However, if we understand by the Spirit that healing is not to come, then we also show our faith by accepting His will, and, like Paul, having patience and trust in Him.
The big picture, whether or not we are healed, is to do the work of the Lord in the salvation of His children. When Jesus and His disciples came upon a man born blind, “His disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (KJV John 9:2-3) The man was healed and went on to be a powerful witness for the Lord.
The fact is, no matter what happens to us in this life, if we are faithful we are all ultimately healed. Our time on Earth is brief, whether we live for a day or a hundred years. Some must live with infirmities, others will be miraculously and suddenly healed, while still others will need to use the tools and knowledge God has given to man. No matter which, in the end it is all for our knowledge, understanding and growth that we experience these things.
God really is over all. There is a plan. He knows all things. He has all power.
While we look on the outward appearance of things, God looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Ultimately, His purpose is to heal our hearts – which is the real miracle!
All who demonstrate their faith by seeking restoration, and are willing to put their trust in Him are healed – miraculously.
Dr. Scott D. Saunders, M.D. (Ask-an-MD) is a practicing physician, specializing in preventative health care, who utilizes eclectic health care for the whole family, including conventional, orthomolecular and natural medicine. He is also the medical director of The Integrative Medical Center of Santa Barbara in Lompoc, CA. He went to UCLA medical school and is board certified in family medicine. View natural remedies with Dr. Saunders at: http://drsaundersmd.com