This post is a response to a comment from “pastormatte” regarding an earlier post about declaring things over your life. It also answers a question someone asked for my series, “Questions People ask About the Holy Spirit.”
Some people argue that “the New Testament always shows healing and never shows someone asking for healing and leaving still sick.”
The Bible includes examples of people who were not healed.
Paul himself was not always healed. Paul reminds the Galatians that “it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you” (Galatians 4:13).
Furthermore, Paul had sick friends that he had no doubt prayed for. He writes that he left “Trophimus sick in Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20). And Paul’s friend Epaphroditus was so sick that he “almost died” (Philippians 2:27).
Paul nowhere suggests that these people were sick because he or they didn’t have enough faith. And he doesn’t tell Timothy that Timothy needed to exercise more faith because of his “frequent illness” (1 Timothy 5:23). Instead, he suggests a medicinal remedy.
Why are some people not healed?
Hmmm…that question requires a book. There are many possible reasons a person might not be healed when they pray.
Many people aren’t comfortable with this, but in some cases it is possible that God has inflicted the suffering (Deuteronomy 7:15). Again, some cases.
More generally though, one important reason people aren’t healed is that the kingdom of God hasn’t fully come yet. I’ve written about this in my previous post, “Why Are Some People not Healed?”
Do you know of any Pentecostal / Charismatic resources that address a theology of suffering?
Yes! Here are some books by Pentecostals that address a theology of suffering (in alphabetical order)…
- Courey, David J. What has Wittenberg to do with Azusa? Luther’s Theology of the Cross and Pentecostal Triumphalism. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2015.
- Menzies, William W., and Robert P. Menzies, Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.
- You may have this book on your shelf, as many PAOC clergy received this book for free a number of years back. Chapter 12 deals with divine providence and a theology of suffering.
- Torr, Stephen C. A Dramatic Pentecostal/Charismatic Anti-Theodicy: Improvising on a Divine Performance of Lament. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.
- Warrington, Keith. 2005. Healing and Suffering: Biblical and Pastoral Reflections. Milton Keynes: Paternoster.
I have also addressed this question to some extent in my article (see the section on ministry) “The Holy Spirit and Eschatology—with Implications for Ministry and the Doctrine of Spirit Baptism,” in the Journal of Pentecostal Theology 25.2 (2016): 203-221.
Question: Do you know of any other Pentecostal-Charismatic scholars who have addressed a theology of suffering? Leave a comment below by clicking here.