What does the Bible say about sickness?
Many people believe as Christians, they will no longer endure hardship and illness despite the Bible never making such a claim. While God can heal people, He may have another purpose for sickness, or He may not give a reason why someone stays unhealed. Either way, even as a follower of Christ, you can expect to endure uncomfortable ailments throughout your life.
The real issue is not the malady’s but your response to problems of the flesh. God may not heal you, but He will not leave you no matter what health issues you encounter. Faith and healing are two key elements in scripture; let’s take a look at how faith can lead you to spiritual healing even when your flesh is under attack.
Christian quotes about sickness
“When you get sick, do two things: pray for healing and go to a doctor.” John MacArthur
“I venture to say that the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness. Sickness has frequently been of more use to the saints of God than health has.” C.H. Spurgeon
“Health is a good thing; but sickness is far better, if it leads us to God.” J.C. Ryle
“I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain.” John Henry Newman
“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?” John Piper
Scriptures on being sick and healing
The Word often speaks about illness and suffering while pointing toward the flesh as the cause. As we are made of a body that decays, we need to be reminded of our imperfect nature and the necessity of eternal life, which the Bible points out time and time again. Jesus came to take away our decaying forms and replace them with eternal forms free from sickness and death by showing us the route to Heaven through salvation.
To fully realize the necessity of Jesus’ sacrifice, we need illness to remind us of our human nature. The only cure for our flesh is the spirit that comes from salvation via Jesus Christ. Romans 5:3-4 embodies the necessity of suffering, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
While enjoying sickness does not happen, God uses physical affliction to sharpen our spirit and bring us closer to Him. While on earth, Jesus healed physical ailments to help people understand how God can cure the problem of sin. If the Lord can reverse problems of the flesh, how much more will He do to guide your spirit to a place of health and life?
All scripture leads to the healing of sickness with sin as the main sickness. Our flesh and sin are linked until we break the chains with salvation from God. No matter how hard you try, at some point, you will die, and your flesh will no longer matter. Illness will no longer matter, but your spirit will remain. Do not allow a temporary problem like flesh to guide you away from God.
1. Romans 5:3-4 “And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”
2. Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
3. 1 Kings 17:17 “Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” 19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
4. James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
5. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
6. Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
7. Exodus 23:25 “You must serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your food and water. I will take away all sickness from among you.”
8. Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”
9. Matthew 25:36 “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
10. Galatians 4:13 “but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time.”
The importance of taking care of your body
Although flesh dies, the human body is a gift made by God to tether us to the earth. As long as you are on this earth, take care of the gift given to you. No, caring for your body will not remove all ailments but can prevent many. For now, your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit (Corinthians 6:19-20), and the Spirit deserves a nice place to live while He maintains your soul.
Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Keeping control of your flesh allows you to maintain a healthy relationship with your Creator. Sickness impacts spiritual nature, and by maintaining your flesh, you keep yourself a vessel ready to be filled by God.
11. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
12. 1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
13. Romans 12:1 “I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship.”
14. 3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
15. 1 Corinthians 10:21 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
16. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
Why does God allow sickness?
Sickness comes from three sources: God, sin and satan, and from natural sources. When God inflicts us with illness, it often includes a spiritual lesson to remind us of our human nature and the necessity of His nature. As stated above, Romans 5 tells us that illness can bring endurance which can bring character. Hebrews 12:5-11 also tells us how discipline and reprove come from a Father who loves us and wants to mold us into His perfect image.
Psalms 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” Verse 71 states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” We are to accept illness as a way to reach closer to God and find His will. Sickness causes us to stop and think and hopefully to find the love of God waiting to nurse us back to health so we can follow His eternal will.
Satan can convince you to sin where you will be less discerning of God’s will and fall under judgment (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). Sin comes with natural consequences, and Satan is out to destroy! However, most illness allows us the opportunity to display God’s glory, “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).
Finally, simply living in a flesh body can cause illness. Whether from poor genetics or from age, your body starts to die from the time you are born. You cannot leave your fleshly body until you die, so you can expect that while your mind and spirit are strong, your body will be weak. Illness in the air and all-around can infect you without God or the devil being the cause.
17. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
18. Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
19. 1 Peter 1:7 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
20. John 9:3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
21. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
22. Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”
23. James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
24. Hebrews 12:5 “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you.”
The God who heals
God has been healing since sin and sickness entered the world. In Exodus 23:25, “Worship the Lord your God, and His blessings will be on your food and water. I will take away your sickness from among you.” Again in Jeremiah 30:17, we see God’s willingness to heal, “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord. God is capable of healing those who cry out His name and seek His grace.
Jesus went on to continue healing. Matthew 9:35 tells us, “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” God’s goal has always been to clear our afflictions, not just physical but spiritual as well.
25. Psalm 41:3 “The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, You restore him to health.”
26. Jeremiah 17:14 “O LORD, you alone can heal me; you alone can save. My praises are for you alone!”
27. Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
28. Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
29. Exodus 15:26 “He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”
30. Jeremiah 33:6 “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
31. Exodus 23:25 “Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.”
32. Isaiah 40:29 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
33. Psalm 107:19-21 “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”
Healing through prayer
Yes, God can heal you through prayer. Psalms 30:2 states, “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” When you are sick, your first response should be to take it to the Father. Call out to Him as faith can move mountains and cure that which is in God’s will (Matthew 17:20). The key, though, is to pray with others. While you alone can pray, where two or more are gathered, Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20).
James 5:14-15 tells us, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” Notice we are to call on our church family to pray over and anoint us during times of sickness. Also, the scripture points to the healing of the spirit too with forgiveness and not just healing of the flesh.
Prayer is your greatest defense and first action when encountering problems of the flesh. God wants to help you, but as a gentleman, He waits for you to ask. Psalms 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Address prayer this way, knowing that you are weak, but God is strong and capable of what you cannot, healing your body.
34. James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
35. Psalm 18:6 “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
36. Psalm 30:2 “LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.”
37. Psalm 6:2 “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am frail; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are in agony.”
38. Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
39. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
40. Psalm 103:3 “He who forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases.”
Praying for healing
Prayer for healing of the body coordinates with healing of the soul. In Mark 5:34, Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” In Luke 8:50, Jesus told a father to not fear but to believe and His daughter would be well. Sometimes sickness is a test of our faith and a way to open the gates to more prayer.
What you need to learn is prayer is a sign of faith. Ask for what you want and if it follows God’s will then you may receive a positive answer. Ask others to pray over you, too, as many have the gift of healing to cover where your faith lacks (1 Corinthians 11:9). Jesus sent the apostles out with the ability to heal (Luke 9:9), so do not depend on your own prayer but seek out your church family for more prayer. Most importantly, believe for what you want to receive (Mark 11:24) for results.
41. Psalm 41:4 “I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against You.”
42. Psalm 6:2 “Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.”
43. Mark 5:34 “He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Focusing on Christ in your sickness
Jesus knew one way to reach people’s souls was through their flesh. When you go through ailments, focus on Christ as He knew physical problems were related to the spiritual. Now is the time to focus on the health of your soul and reach out to God as He alone can heal you of both.
Use the time while in pain to seek comfort from God. Allow the work He wishes to accomplish to take place. How do you focus on Christ, though? By spending time with Him! Pull out your Bible and read the Word, and pray. Let God talk to you through this time of pain while learning empathy, grace, and understanding of the Grace of God.
44. Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
45. Philippians 4:8 “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
46. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
47. Psalm 105:4 “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”
Praying for God’s will
Humans have free will, and God has His will; your goal should be to align your will to God’s will. You can do so by reading the Word and specifically asking for God’s will. First John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request that we have asked of him.”
God wants us to find Him. If we find Him, we can listen to His will. Following His will will lead to happiness eternally, while not finding Him leads to eternal death and misery. God’s will is very simple according to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Also, in Micah 6:8, we learn, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
If you follow these verses, you will be in God’s will and see an improvement in your life even if your afflictions are not overcome.
48. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
49. Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
50. 1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
Praising God even if He doesn’t heal
Just because God can heal you does not mean God will heal you. Sometimes God’s will is for you to go home to Heaven. Only God knows as He alone has the full picture of what’s going on and can make the correct decisions. Many times God does not heal because the problem with your body is not as important as the problem with your soul.
When we are sick, we are less likely to have the energy to sin but have a deep desire to seek God for healing. God wants this connection. For many, He knows that connection will not come if they are healed, and there is still work to be done in the spirit. Even if our body does not heal, the greater plan could be unknown to us, and we need to have faith that God has a plan for our good (Jeremiah 29:11).
Look at Luke 17:11-19 “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
All ten of the lepers were cured of their illness, but only one came back and followed God’s will to praise and say thank you. Only this man was made well. Most often, physical health issues are a problem of the heart or spirit, and we need to be made well by following God’s will. Other times, we are given the answer we do not want, no. God does not have to explain His ways, and He can choose not to heal us. Whether it’s because of sin or consequences of sin, we can be denied physical healing to save our spirit.
51. Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.”
52. Philippians 4:4–6 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
53. Psalm 34:1-4 “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
54. John 11:4 “When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
55. Luke 18:43 “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”
Jesus healing the sick in the Bible
Jesus came to spiritually heal the world, and often times this included physical healing. Christ performed 37 miracles in the Bible, and 21 of these miracles were healing physical ailments, and He even brought a few dead people and removed unclean spirits from others. Read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how important healing was to the ministry of Jesus.
56. Mark 5:34 “He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
57. Matthew 14:14 (ESV) “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
58. Luke 9:11 (KJV) “And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.”
What is spiritual sickness?
Just as sickness attacks the body, it can also attack the spirit. While it’s not specifically mentioned in the Bible, spiritual sickness is an attack on your faith and walk with God. When you sin and do not confess or ask for forgiveness, or simply fall away from God’s path, you may be spiritually sick. The world is often the main cause of sickness as the world does not follow God’s will.
Thankfully, treatment of spiritual sickness is easy. Look at Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Remember to avoid the thinking patterns of the world but to stay close to God’s will to avoid spiritual sickness. Jesus Himself is the cure for spiritual problems as He is the physician for sin (Matthew 9:9-13).
59. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
60. Ephesians 6:12 “Our fight is not with people. It is against the leaders and the powers and the spirits of darkness in this world. It is against the demon world that works in the heavens.”
God uses sickness to create an environment where we will spend more time with Him or to help us back to His perfect will. Sometimes though, God does not heal us for reasons we may never know, but what we do know is God will never leave or forsake us. Take the time while you are sick to pray continually, seek God and His will and praise your Creator.