Psalm 103:1–3 (NIV84)
1 Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
My sister-in-law is undergoing treatments for a malignant brain tumor. My daughter has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since she was eleven years old. My aunt has completely lost her eyesight. I’m currently battling a nasty cold. So how are things in your family? Oh, my! I’m so sorry to hear that!
Ever find yourself swapping accounts of family illnesses? Some folks do that merely to wallow in self-pity. For others, though, such conversations prompt expressions of sympathy, medical advice, words of encouragement, prayers for healing and recovery, and, yes, even heartfelt praise to the Lord. Let me explain:
Every sickness arrives as an uncomfortable reminder that you are a fallen creature. Mankind’s first parents sinned against God; so have you. The consequences of sin include a litany of aches, pains, sicknesses, and seemingly countless diseases. And that’s not going to change, is it? You’ve noticed that for every triumphant announcement that a deadly disease has been pushed off the world’s stage, another deadly disease comes onto the scene.
Jesus came to drive out fevers, to cure leprosy, to put the paralyzed on their feet, to give sight to the blind, and to bring hearing to the deaf. People came to the Great Physician from all over the region, and why not? He was “healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23), again and again showing his compassion and proving his identity as the Son of God.
But Jesus didn’t eradicate every illness from the face of the earth, did he? He had a much higher priority. My greatest problem is not my sniffles. My aunt’s worst ailment is not her blindness. Your most dangerous disorder is not what most recently had you sitting in your doctor’s office. It’s rather that we have offended our holy God in our thoughts, words, and actions. Those sins should lead to more than a trip to the emergency room or a frightening diagnosis at the hospital. They should result in eternal suffering in hell.
Remarkably, the Son of God was willing to suffer in my place for all my offenses against God. Praise the Lord! On the cross, he shed his blood to set you free from guilt. Praise the Lord! For his Son’s sake, our heavenly Father forgives all our sins. Praise the Lord! In this life, the Great Physician is going to heal all our diseases whenever such healing is in keeping with his good and gracious plan for our eternity. Praise the Lord! In the life to come there will be no more sickness, sorrow, suffering, or pain. “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.”
PRAYER: Whenever we petition you on behalf of those who are suffering from an illness of the body, merciful Lord, accept our prayers. Whenever we hear that you have forgiven all our sins, gracious Lord, accept our praises. Amen.