The Bible speaks of a gift of healing in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given…gifts of healing.” Is this gift for today? Should we be seeing individuals in the church exercising this gift?
It is not without significance that the literal translation of the phrase in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is “gifts of healings.” Some are given the message of wisdom, some faith, some miraculous powers, some prophecy, but to these individuals are given “gifts of healings.” It seems likely that it is not an ability to heal at any time, but that this person is the channel through which many of God’s healings are ministered. This also suggests a limitation on the person’s ability to heal. Rather than a resident ability, it is a resident readiness to be God’s vehicle for any healings He wishes to grant.
It is also of some interest that when the author of the letter to the Hebrews sought to impress on them the validity of the Christian faith, he spoke of the signs and wonders God did through those who confirmed to them what was first spoken by the Lord. Why did he not point to miracles that they were experiencing at the moment? It is a common observation that various periods of God’s work in history are more filled with miracles than others. Does this mean that when we don’t see miracles very frequently in our day, that we should just give up expecting them? Of course not. But it may be that our particular situation is not one in which God is granting as many as someone else’s situation.
Near the end of Paul’s career he wrote to Timothy from prison of a certain Trophimus, whom he had left in a city called Miletus during the course of his mission journey and arrest. The reason he left him there was that he was sick (2 Timothy 4:20). This is the same Paul whose handkerchief had healed of disease, who had raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 19:11,12; 20:7-12). Yet at this particular date no miraculous cure for Trophimus was forthcoming.
Without a doubt there is a faith component to the distribution of healing from God. Mark says Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth because of their lack of faith (Mark 6:4-6). We must beware that we do not excuse ourselves for the lack of miracles in our midst with the claim that God is just not doing that now.
On the other hand, we must also consider the possibility that God does not purpose to do many miracles, including healings, in our present situation, to serve His greater glory. This makes it especially tough, at times, to build up our faith when we ask, believing in God’s power, for Him to do the miraculous and restore ill people to health, and He does not grant our request. It is at times like these that we need to hear God saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Like Paul, we are free to ask until God tells us no.