"You'll end this year healthier, wealthier, and happier than when you began it. Type Amen."
I've lost track of how many times I've seen posts that have said something along these lines on Facebook, yet I know better than to believe them. Messages like these are the "health and wealth gospel," the opposite of what the Bible teaches.
Yes, I believe that God is kind and good. If I die this year, I believe I'll be healthier and happier than when I began this year because I'll be in heaven. But I can't type "Amen" and "name and claim the blessings" these Facebook posts promise for here on earth because I can't believe them. Sure, any of us might end this year healthier, wealthier, and happier while still on earth, but there is no promise in the Bible that it will happen.
I can't believe these messages because Jesus promises, "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33). I can't believe them because of my own seven-year battle with chronic illness, the daily headlines in the newspaper, and the stories told in the Bible.
While no one has said so to me directly, I've seen an overwhelming amount of Facebook posts that if only I had enough faith I'd be already healed. But in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, the perfect and blameless one, prayed for God to take the cup away from Him, and He still ended up crucified.
However, while John 16:33 promises trouble, there is more to the promise than just that. The full verse reads, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Yes, I have complete faith that God is fully capable of healing me. Recently, I've been listening to the book of John, and I am remembering the many miracles Jesus has done. This time I am listening to them with joy, but to be honest, sometimes I have hated reading those miracle stories because they were a reminder of the miraculous healing God could give me but had chosen not to. But it's important to remember the point of those miracles: to show that Jesus was indeed who He claimed to be, the Son of God, and to bring glory to Him.
And you know what? Although I'm still sick, God has worked a different sort of miracle in my life. To quote Charles Spurgeon, “My dear brother, do you know that sometimes God works a greater wonder when he sustains his people in trouble than he would do if he brought them out of it? For him to let the bush burn on and yet not to be consumed is a grander thing than for him to quench the flame and so save the bush. God is being glorified in your troubles, and if you realize this you will be ready to say, ‘Lord, heap on the loads, if it be for thy glory; give me but strength equal to my day, and then pile on the burdens; I shall not be crushed beneath them, but I shall be made to illustrate thy power. My weakness shall glorify thy might.’”
Recently, I finished reading Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan. I wasn't sure what to expect when I decided to read it. Would this be some book that preached the same false message as those Facebook posts? But Chan was honest about the reality of suffering. He agreed that we shouldn't doubt the power of God and that it isn't wrong to pray for miraculous healing, but at the same time, we should pray for God's will to be done. We should pray for the Holy Spirit to be so alive in us that people will know that our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control cannot be of our own strength. We should pray to be so full of the Spirit that when people see us, they really see His miraculous power in our lives. To that I say, "Amen."