“And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.” (Acts 28:3–5, AV)
I heard a man speak one time that had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the brain. He was given a short time to live. This man hunkered down in his house in a great state of bitterness and depression. His thoughts were, “Why me!” He thought that what was happening to him was not fair. Yes, these are common reactions that all of us might have if put in the same situation.
This man’s small group from the church kept trying to reach out to him, but he would not respond. He continued to hunker down in his house depressed. However, the group of Christian friends would not let it rest. One night in the middle of the winter, they went over to his house and stood in the snow in front of the man’s house and prayed for his emotional and physical wellbeing. When he saw them outside, he was moved by their love and invited them in.
Afterward, he had a change of heart. He stated, “Prior to this I had been saying, ‘Why me?” but then I started thinking, ‘Why not me?’” In other words, he began thinking what made him so special that this would not come upon him. So, his countenance changed. He experienced emotional healing. Granted, while he accepted his illness, he still hoped that he would be delivered from it. The good new is that on his next visit to the doctor for a scan, they could find no sign of the tumor. He was healed without any explanation.
Now, people responded to this in many ways. Some said that original doctor’s diagnosis or scans were wrong. Yet, others ascribed this to a miracle of God. Yet, this man and the doctors can only say one thing. One minute he was seriously ill and the next he was not. One thing we can conclude is that the Lord is our Great Physician, our Jehovah Rapha (Exod 15:26).
After Paul and those on the ship made it to shore on Malta, the islanders gave them a friendly reception. Paul was putting wood on a fire for the group to stay warm. While handling the wood a poisonous snake latched onto Paul’s hand. All who observed felt that Paul would die. Yet, Paul did not die. He did not even swell up. Paul escaped the deadly poison of the viper through the power of the Lord who heals.
The Lord is our Great Physician. Considering this truth, we have many questions. If this is so, why does He not physically heal everyone? This is an unanswerable question. However, this one thing we can say the Lord heals in accordance with and for His sovereign purposes. In Paul’s case, it was so he would continue to be a witness for Him in Rome. Of course, even when the Lord does not heal us from a specific illness, He will give us the ultimate healing when entering our eternal home.
Next, if the Lord is the Great Physician, why should we go to a doctor? The best answer we have is that God has granted to people their skills for His sovereign purposes. The Lord is the one who has gifted doctors with medical knowledge and uses them in the process of healing. Thus, we should use doctors, when available, but make sure we give glory to the Lord our Great Physician who heals us.