Matthew 9:5-8 shows us that Jesus has power over both sin and sickness. Jesus not only was crucified for our sins, but also for our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:5). The exact reason why individuals suffer an affliction (trouble) or sickness on this earth we may never know. It can be one of 1001 reasons. But, there are definitely times when sickness is brought on by sin. John 5:14, 1 Corinthians 11:30-31 and James 5:15 are three portions of scripture that attest to this.
James chapter 5 verses 13-18 are info packed verses. First, sickness is sometimes caused by sin. According to Strong’s, the Greek word for sick in verse 14 means to be feeble or weak in any sense. This covers spiritual weakness and can include illness, disease, medical conditions, handicaps, and any other human weaknesses. Second, afflictions and troubles and tragedies are a part of life just as much as happiness and cheerfulness are. Third, confession is a good thing, not only to God, but sometimes to others in the faith. Fourth, no one is to be a loner in the faith. There are times to cry out for help, and leadership has the responsibility to respond. Fifth, anointing with oil by fellow Christians serves as a refreshing, encouraging act of friendship. When looked at in line with Matthew 6:17-18 (But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting) it helps the sick to look revived. It’s faith (verse 15), not the symbol (oil) that heals. Sixth, which is the most important part, is that there is tremendous power in prayer.
Sickness or affliction, when it strikes, can be a confusing thing. Dozens of questions may fill our mind as to why. Is it a wake-up call? Is it because of sin? Is it to keep us in line? Is it to keep us dependent on God? Is it to change our human plans? Is it to be an example to others? Is it to test us? Is it to make us stronger? Is it to give us a much needed rest? Is it because of our own carelessness, is it because of our own bad decisions? Is its end purpose to bring glory to God? Is it because of a demonic attack? As I said previously, there can be 1001 reasons. But, no matter what, we are to seek the Lord’s face for the game plan. We are to put our faith and prayer into play. We need to practice acceptance if the Lord simply replies back to us, “My grace is sufficient.”
I found John Wesley’s note on 2 Timothy 4:20, where Paul left Trophimus at Miletus sick, very enlightening. He wrote, “Not having power (as neither had any of the apostles) to work miracles when he pleased, but only when God pleased.”
There are no absolute formulas when it comes to dealing with sickness and afflictions. James 5:14 only gives us a guideline. It actually is an ambiguous verse not repeated elsewhere in the New Testament after the day of Pentecost. Some Christians have made the mistake of turning James 5:14 into a ritual. What is most important about James 5:13-18 is that we can be absolutely assured that there is tremendous power in prayer. The New Living Translation actually entitles these verses ‘The Power of Prayer’.
Let’s part with an observation a great man of God declared, “God is more eager to answer than we are to ask.” May we always be found asking, seeking and knocking. Also, let’s never fall into the same trap as the Apostles (John 9:1-3) or as Job’s three friends (Job 1:1, 1:22, 4:8, 8:6, 11:4-5, 42:7-8) by making false assumptions. One’s sickness may have nothing to do with sin.