Previously, we concluded that God does not will good health for all of mankind as the faith healers state. The opposite of this statement is that God does will sickness and bad health for his people. Probably neither of these statements are true, but rather the truth is somewhere in between. We should attempt to determine what the Christian philosophy of health is.
Perhaps this statement will state the Christian’s position: The will of God for mankind is Christlikeness, and everything else, including sickness and health, derives its significance in relation to that goal. Personal comfort and absence of pain are not, therefore, the prime considerations in life. Health for the Christian should be subordinate to other more vital interests. The human family may be helped in its growth toward Christian maturity both by affliction and by the struggle against affliction.
Let’s look at the affliction this way. Suppose you give a bicycle to your child. The bicycle is an instrument of great possible enjoyment. Yet, it is an instrument, that if not used wisely, may cause great injury and even death. But few parents refrain from giving their children bicycles on that account. Or, suppose you are an indulgent parent who gives his child everything that he can want… allowance, parties, cars, clothes… but you notice that his studies slip and that he no longer keeps good company and he becomes lazy. A wise parent withdraws some or all of these privileges in order to chasten and return the child to the proper way of life.
What does the Bible have to say about the struggle of man against disease and the other afflictions? Although God started the human race off in ignorance of the causes and cures of disease, one of the first tasks God gave man was to subdue the earth. Man is constantly challenged by the problem of subduing the world. In overcoming these problems, his own character, ingenuity, inventiveness, self-discipline, are enhanced. We can be sure that God approves of man’s efforts to combat disease for the Scriptures give many laws concerning infectious diseases, sanitation and hygiene.
Furthermore, God has endowed the human body with healing forces in itself so that we know that His intention is that the body heals itself. We know also that there are many diseases brought about by sinful acts, and often times the cures of diseases also bring about the cures of the sins through repentance. Finally, we can believe that God has a mission for every person. Every Christian is called upon for some duty, evangelism, teaching, preaching, and it is through some afflictions that some people are directed into vocations that are useful to God. Hence, we see that the Bible directs our attention to the use of diseases and sickness in an effort to build our Christian maturity and to direct us into paths God wants us to follow.