For generations, mankind has struggled to understand the mysterious ways of God, especially when it comes to sickness and suffering. We're taught that God is the great physician, and we boldly hold to that conviction. So then how do we petition Him for help and healing?
What's the proper protocol? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues a message he started on the previous program. James Chapter 5 provides clear direction for anyone seeking relief from their hardships. Chuck titled today's message, When God Heals Body and Soul, and we begin with prayer. What a great thought we have heard, Father, and we count on it, that You lead us, You lead us as You please, not necessarily as we wish or as we have planned. You lead us unerringly into Your will. We blunder along the way and make a mess of things, and You very graciously pick us up, forgive us, brush us off, and get us back on our way. It's all because of Your grace. Your grace.
Where would we be without that? As You give to us what we do not deserve, can never ever earn or repay You. Thank You, Father, for Your grace. Thank You for the grace You have given to mothers, especially mothers in this day where the pressure is on, and there's a constant, constant demand from all corners of our culture to be someone they're not. Enable these mothers who are with us today to simply be who they are by Your grace, and to remember that You're using them as they influence their families and friends. We're grateful for each one.
No one is poor who has had a godly mother, and we are rich by Your grace, Your amazing grace that enables us from what we have earned to return to You what is Yours, and rightfully so. We give with gratitude and generosity in the name of Jesus, the model of grace. We pray these things.
Everyone say, amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash hope.
And now the message from Chuck titled When God Heals Body and Soul. So what does God say when you determine to think biblically? We won't answer all the questions you have. We won't even answer most of them, but maybe some of them will be answered from James 5, 13 through 16. If you haven't already done so, please turn to that passage of scripture and notice in a rather simple way, there are three statements you can underscore that will at least begin to open up the passage for you.
All three are questions. Look at verse 13. Are any of you suffering? I have that marked in my Bible. I'll come back to it. A little later in the verse, the second you may mark, are any of you cheerful or any of you happy? Mark that. Drop down to verse 14 and you will read.
Are any of you sick? Usually that can't be the same as suffering or it would be redundant. Track with me as we think theologically, think biblically. When we are suffering, verse 13 begins, the word is kukkopatheo, a long Greek word that translates into English suffering. It's a broad word. It means some type of misfortune.
Stay with me. Normally it's not used of a physical illness, but it's used of emotional or mental or spiritual struggles. It is a reference to inner turmoil would include discouragement, doubt, anxiety that lingers. It could even include financial hardship, worry over a lawsuit that you're involved in. It could include a relational conflict with someone you love or someone you've met. You maybe were once close, you're not now, and the breakdown has you suffering, troubled, agitated. It's the picture of an inner struggle. You're enduring a troublesome situation.
So what do you do? Look at the verse. If you want to think biblically, you will let the scriptures speak and you will not read into them. You will let them speak to you.
Let's see what the scriptures answer is. Are any of you suffering? You should pray. Period.
End of sentence. Now that's a profound answer because prayer woven through the fabric of scripture is a magnificent subject. I could, in its broadest sense, assume that would include praying for endurance, praying for insight, praying for God to reveal how I might build a bridge back to one that I was close to, but it's now broken down.
How I might deal with this financial issue I'm wrestling with. I might pray for encouragement, recovery from this dark doubt and anxiety that won't leave, maybe even borderline depression. And so I pray. When I'm going through times like this to be biblical, I'm to pray and I'm to take that seriously. It's not a play thing.
It isn't a cliche. You should pray. Have that prayer on your heart, on your lips, in your mind regularly. Bombard the throne with your prayer.
Bring it up often. There's therapy in releasing the anxiety through prayer. And I don't know how that works. I just know that it does. There's wisdom in the answer. Time doesn't allow us to amplify further, but you get the picture. If you are troubled, the answer is to pray.
And that isn't a casting off of the concern. There's a deep compassion in the answer. Pray. The question is, are you? Have you?
Will you continue to? That's the biblical answer. And there are others as well, but for here, that's the answer.
Here's the second. When we're cheerful, it gets even more simple, doesn't it? When we're cheerful, this is the opposite of the affliction I just described. This is the one who is not anxious, not suffering some kind of hardship or trial or affliction, not going through some lengthy endurance of a trial. This is a person who is on top of it, we say.
So what do you do? The Greek word is psaleto. It starts with a P and includes an S. P-S-A-L-E-T-T-O.
Psaleto. It means to play on a stringed instrument. Obviously, not everyone plays a stringed instrument. So the thought is really in a broader sense it's a picture of being filled with praises. The kind of praise that comes over you when you hear magnificent music.
The kind of joy that accompanies being around one who plays beautifully on an instrument. There's something within us that is exuberantly excited when we are cheerful and James says, let it out. Let it out.
Even though the world is crying and in great need, you may be having a fabulous day. Let it out. Let there be praise. Let there be songs. Let there be singing. Now the third category is much more complicated.
That's why he spends longer developing it. Look for yourself. Are any of you sick? Sick.
A-S-T-H-E-N-O. Interesting word. It means to be weak, without strength, incapacitated, could even include bedridden. It doesn't often refer to physical illness as much as a weariness, a fatigue that leads to such. There are other words that go deeper into physical illness, but this is a serious illness of some kind. It may be physical, but whatever you, we have the words, I just can't go on.
I've just reached an end. This is it. That's the picture. That's how serious it is. So you're that sick. What do you do?
What do you do? If you're going to think biblically, let's let the Bible give us instruction on what to do. We'll make this just as clear as we can. First, the sick person takes the initiative.
You notice? You should call for the elders of the church. You take the initiative. Often the elders, I can tell you from experience are the last to hear that you've gotten sick or that you're very sick. Sometimes we don't hear until you're near death. Now, the picture here is that you come as soon as you realize you can't move about.
You can't keep working. Richard Trench in his synonyms of the New Testament says that the word is used in medical treatises for sicknesses. Now we've got a sickness and we call for the elders and what do they do? Well, they have a responsibility.
And by the way, let me add this. In ancient days, there were not docs in the box on every other corner. There were not specialists in every field of the anatomy. There were not that many medical physicians available in the first century, certainly among the persecuted believers who were the recipients of James' letter. Elders often served in the role of spiritual leaders and, if you will, medical practitioners.
I pause as you picture that in your mind. Not so much nowadays, but in those days they would be like a practitioner that would help you with your sickness. And so not surprisingly, they would come with that which would help you with your illness, namely oil. You see, call for the elders. They will pray over you, anointing you with oil.
Look closely. Anointing you immediately think of David who was found by Samuel and Jesse's youngest son and he anointed him with oil and the oil ran down his head. There was a religious significance to it.
There was a symbolism about it as this oil was poured over the head of this young man. That is the word creo, c-h-r-i-o. We get our word Christ from it, the anointed one. But that's not the word used here for anointing. This is the word alifo. Alifo doesn't sound at all like creo and it isn't meant to because this word means to rub, to apply, and sometimes to pour into a wound. You remember in Luke 10, 34, the good Samaritan came upon the man who had been mugged and he was beaten to almost the end of his life and no one would stop to help him until the Samaritan came and what did he do? Verse 34 says he poured in or he massaged in or he rubbed in, same word, alifo, he rubbed in the oil. It was the ancient antibiotic, if you will.
It was the ancient medicine used for wounds and sometimes for illnesses. I'll pull the veil back and tell you my wife has suffered great pain as a result of back surgery and then later even neck surgery. I've said since then as a one who has cared for her through those months of healing and still going on in some ways, those kind of surgeries are not for sissies. That's painful surgery. The recovery is lengthy and painful.
She's found help with oils that she will often in the morning rub right on the spot right there, right there and has several oils that she will use. It's an ancient method and it's remarkable how often that will help take the pain away. It isn't magic. It isn't miraculous. There's no hocus pocus in this. It's medicine. So let me apply it. When the elders come, a good question is have you been seen by a physician?
Has the specialist come to assist you or have you gone to one? In that sense, you're making sure about the oil. You don't carry a little flask and drop a few drops on them.
That's not it. That's a ceremonial creole anointing. This is rubbing, massaging, applying.
So have you sought medical help? In fact, the syntax in the Greek sentence is very revealing. Literally, it reads that the elders come and pray over you, having anointed you or rubbed in the oil. So the rubbing of the oil precedes the praying. Got it? If you think biblically, which we want to do, first comes good medical treatment, reliable, carefully thought through as you were able to get that help.
Make sure that you have done that. And now we're going to pray and please observe that the results are left with the Lord. Note that no elder has a magical gift. No elder is a faith healer. The elders there to pray and in this case to help provide the medication, the applying of the oils. Now look closely, not just prayer, but praying over you, applying the oil in the name of the Lord. That isn't just a fill in.
That's not a cliche. When you think biblically, you understand this includes his will. Oh God, I care about this individual. We care as a body of elders. We were at a loss to know what your plan is, but obviously there's a severe sickness here and the seriousness of it forces us to turn to you because we are, we're helpless. Good medication has been provided, good medical help, and there's not been recovery.
We're going to trust you because we want your will to be done. Our elders did that recently and the individual we prayed for died later. It was not the Father's will to heal that individual. The elders were not out of line. They could not have been more sincere.
It's happened more than once rather recently. Sometime the Lord raises them up and in this case, James says this, the Lord may raise you up. Look at this, the restoration of the one who was sick, the healing provided by the Lord. And now he adds another dimension. If you have committed any sins, that's a new dimension.
But you're not surprised because we laid a foundation, remember? And the third, if you turn to your outline, you will see it. The third foundational fact, sometimes there's a direct relationship between personal sins and sickness, not always, but sometimes, sometimes. So that's James point. If he says, doesn't say there is sin, he says, if there is sin, see it? If you have committed any sins, you'll be forgiven. And the implication is you'll be healed because the connection in this case is sinfulness has been a part of the condition of your life, of the sickness.
This is Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll is midway through a message titled When God Heals Body and Soul. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insideworld.org. A moment ago, you heard Chuck refer to an outline, so I'll remind you that Insight for Living provides Searching the Scriptures study notes for every sermon Chuck presents.
Thousands are taking advantage of this free study tool, and you're invited to do the same by going to insight.org slash studies. But that's not all because we're pleased to tell you that Chuck wrote a brand new book that parallels this teaching series. It too is called Clinging to Hope. In this latest book from Chuck, he answers relevant questions like, why is there so much suffering in our world? How do we cope when doors of opportunity get slammed shut?
And how should we respond when calamity crashes in? In the same genuine style you've come to expect from Chuck, we know you'll appreciate owning this brand new book, Clinging to Hope. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash hope, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. When you include a donation to support the Ministry of Insight for Living, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're helping people around the world as well. I saw a note that said, Chuck, I'm a pastor in Damascus, Syria, and I follow your studies every day.
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Our goal is to create special moments when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 5th through the 16th, 2023. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by handpicked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444.
Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444, or go to Insight.org slash events. Insight for Living Ministries tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll continues his message called When God Heals Body and Soul, Tuesday on Insight for Living. .
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