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Will Having Enough Faith Protect Me From Sickness?

Written by Kelly Alexander on

In this pandemic season, when health is at the forefront of most people’s minds, you may have heard someone claim, “if you have enough faith, then you will not get sick.” So how should we respond to this statement? Is it grounded in the truth, or is it a false belief?

Let us examine it against Scripture, particularly in light of God’s desire for us, the purpose of Jesus’s ministry, the meaning of faith, and the theology of suffering.

God’s Desire for Us

Does God have a higher purpose than ensuring that we do not get sick? Of course, he does. God is interested in more than just our health, wealth, and prosperity—and we should be as well. Our greatest desire should be to know God (Col. 1:10-12; Eph 1:15-23), to obey him (Matt. 22:34-40; 2 Cor. 5:9-10), and to spread his truth (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:15).

In Paul’s letters to the churches at Ephesus and Colossae, he prayed that they would grow in their knowledge of God (Eph. 1:15-23; Col. 1:1-14). Did these churches have people who were sick or disabled? Certainly, they did. Yet what the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pray for was that they would know and love God more. Similarly, Matthew reminds us, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt.16:26).

Jesus’s Ministry

Throughout the gospels, we have many examples of Jesus healing people. However, Jesus himself made it clear that this was not the reason he came. Early in his ministry, when he was in Capernaum, “the whole city was gathered together at the door” and Jesus “healed many who were sick with various diseases” (Mark 1:33-34). Mark does not tell us that he healed all, only that he healed many. Although Jesus could have healed them all with a single word, he chose not to. The next morning, when the disciples told Jesus that everyone was looking for him, instead of returning to heal more people, he said, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:28). Jesus came to preach the way of salvation, not heal the sick. Misunderstandings develop when we take a good thing—healing—and make it the main thing. 

“Enough” Faith

Let us consider the idea of “enough faith.” We are not required to work up enough faith to get something from God. Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt.17:20). The “size” of a person’s faith is not what keeps them from getting sick or grants them healing. Faith is not like tickets in an arcade. It is not as though we can earn enough “faith tickets” and turn them in for protection again an illness or for healing. Faith is not about getting enough so God will do what we desire. Biblical faith is believing God is who he says he is and will do what he has said he will do.

Theology of Suffering

Having a good theology of suffering helps us understand that God uses various kinds of suffering to bring about our sanctification (James 1:2-4). Paul himself asked three times for a thorn in his flesh to be removed. Surely it was not from a lack of faith that God did not remove it? Paul tells us,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2. Cor. 12:9).

And what was Paul’s response to God’s choice not to heal him?

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9b-10).

It was not for Paul’s lack of faith that God did not heal him; rather, it was for Paul’s sanctification. And Paul responded by choosing to be content and to rest in the sufficiency of God’s grace.

Present Contentment

I am not saying God no longer heals. Of course, he does. I am not saying that we should not pray for the sick to be healed or for God to protect us from sickness. Just as Paul did, we can ask for the desires of our hearts and then choose to be content with God’s answer knowing that he has a higher purpose. “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” (Jeremiah Burroughs) Being content in every condition includes whether we are sick or healthy, poor or rich (Phil. 4:11-13).

Kelly Alexander

Kelly serves College Park Church as the Assistant Director of Soul Care. She is passionate about counseling and teaching others to counsel using the Word of God. Kelly enjoys spending time with her husband and grandchildren.

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