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May 23, 2018, 8:42 AM

Is any one of you sick?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Is any one of you sick?” (James 5:14)

James wrote to believers who had fled Jerusalem under great persecution, and his letter is amazingly relevant to modern Christianity on several points. He, for instance, called on the church to be in touch with the hurting world that is all around us. We live in the midst of a world of hurts. Hearts are hurting. Families are hurting. Have we looked around us lately? People are not simply sick physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually sick. Thus, we find ourselves asking an extremely pertinent question: “Is any one of you sick?” Hawkins writes, “Perhaps no other ministry in the New Testament church has seen as much perversion as the church’s healing ministry. While many involved may have wonderful intentions and pure hearts, some healing ministries have too often been a vehicle for a few to build their own personal financial kingdoms offering false hopes of healing to any and all.”

Here in James 5, we find the only directive in Scripture concerning praying for those who are sick. He asks, “Is any one of you sick?” The key to understanding this question is the word sick (ἀσθενέω). James chose a word here in Greek that means “without strength” or “to be weak.” Erroneously, we often assume that only physical sickness is involved. However, the word can include those who are weak in body, in soul, or in spirit. Note the next verse where James said, “The prayer of faith will save the sick” (5:15). Here the word sick (κάμνω) means “to grow weary.” James was writing to those who had “grown weary” in the struggles of life, those “scattered abroad” (1:1) in the great dispersion. They had been forced to flee their homes and their jobs. Tempted to give out and give up, they were weary and weak. What do you do when you are “weary” and “without strength”?

James’s proposal is for those who are weak and weary to “call for the elders of the church” (5:14). Did you notice that the initiative is to be taken by those who are sick themselves? Anyone who has ever served as a pastor has more than once heard, “No one ever came to visit me when I was (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) sick.” But, according to James, the onus is on the one who is sick to take the initiative to call for the elders. In response, the elders are then instructed to pray over them and anoint them (5:14). The prayer that is to be offered is “the prayer of faith” (5:15). Prayer for any kind of healing must always be offered according to God’s Word and His will. This verse is not a carte blanche for getting whatever we want. Healing is a mystery wrapped up in the counsel of God’s own will. Some say all can be healed if they just have enough faith, yet God did not remove Paul’s “thorn” when he asked (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Rather, the promise is, “The prayer of faith will save (σῴζω) the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (5:15). When it comes to healing, we don’t always get exactly what we want, when we want, but we can trust the One who always has our very best interest at heart. Indeed, ultimately, the healing we all need is not merely a physical healing, but to be saved and raised up on the last day. Therefore, if instead of hearing God say, “Yes,” if He says, “My grace is sufficient,” then indeed His grace shall be sufficient for whatever we face. Either way, when we are weak and weary, we gather the church, we pray the prayer of faith, and then we trust God’s will and His way.

Let us join in prayer: Jehovah Rapha, heal us, save us, raise us up on the last day in Christ. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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