Following God’s health principles can have amazing benefits for our health and to list them here would take quite a bit of time. In fact, we have filmed an entire television series doing just this, and yet in doing we so we have only barely scratched the surface of the blessings that God has available for us, if we avail ourselves of them. Because of this a few individuals have stated that if we “listen” to God and follow all of His health laws we will never be sick. In fact, some have gone so far as to define health as listening to God or obeying God, and disease as a lack of faith. While it is true that following God’s prescription for health can and often will prevent and even reverse many health problems, does keeping God’s health principles guarantee us good health? In this article we will explore this very important question. If the above definition of health and disease were right, how would we explain why our close personal friend who eats very healthfully, without overeating, never eats any sugar, rarely eats a third meal, hikes three or more miles per day, never goes to bed late and spends quality time with His Maker each day ended up with a recent diagnosis of melanoma, a very serious form of skin cancer.
According to the above definition, if disease is best defined as a result of not listening to the voice of God, then our friend is forced to either feel as though he is breaking some unknown law of God, or he is rejected of God. The result of this is often despair and loss of trust in God—the exact opposite of God’s eight doctors!
A biblical example that must also be considered is the case of Job who developed boils or abscesses containing puss all over his body. Without doubt, these must have been very painful, and likely were associated with fevers and other symptoms of systemic inflammation. Despite Job being very ill, God Himself described Job as one who feared God and eschewed evil (Compare Job 1:1-2 with Revelation 14:6-7). In other words, in God’s eyes, Job was righteous, and yet he still subsequently became very sick.
Given cases such as these, one is forced to ask the question, “Is something else at work which can explain the presence of disease?” In Job’s case, reading all of chapter one reveals that sometimes, to further God’s glory and reveal His character, God allows His children to suffer at the hand of the enemy, if it will bring more children into His kingdom. So, if we are suffering or persecuted despite living up to all the light we have, we can take courage that we are in good company.
But what about Exodus 15:6, in which God promises the children of Israel, if they will listen to His voice, and obey Him explicitly, that He will put on them none of the diseases which He had brought on the Egyptians? How do we balance such statements with the story of Job? First of all, the text is true, and if we choose to follow God’s eight natural doctors, science has proven that lifestyle related diseases can often be prevented and treated. But, if we forget that we live in a sinful world, where “our adversary, the devil is prowling around seeking whom he may devour,” we can go too far and we can fall into fanaticism, or irrational zeal.
The Jews of Jesus’ day leave us a dangerous example. They believed that anyone who was sick, or even poor, was in that condition because they had incurred the disfavor of God. The sick were believed to be sinners who were suffering God’s punishment. Jesus worked to dispel this belief in His response to His disciples, after they asked, “’Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him’” (John 9:2-3). In other words, God did not make the man blind, but allowed the illness so that His power could be manifested to others.
On the other hand, lest we think that we have no role to play in our own personal health, the Scripture also clearly points out that our sins can and often do have consequences upon our health. One example is the passage in Luke 5:17-26 that speaks of a man with palsy (paralysis). In this story, Jesus first dealt with the man’s greatest desire, forgiveness of his sins. Then, almost as an afterthought, He dealt with the result of the man’s sin, paralysis. By healing the paralytic, Jesus proved that he had the power to forgive sins. The lesson here is that our greatest need is to be cleansed of our own sins, rather than to have some miraculous divine intervention for our physical health. See also Desire of Ages, chapter 27.
While Jesus healed many people of their physical ailments when He was here on earth, it is not always the will of God for us to be healed. Paul, the greatest evangelist who ever lived is a good example. After seeing the brightness of the glory of the Son of God on the road to Damascus, his eyes were damaged. Afterward his eyesight was very poor. He made reference to this in his appeal to the Galatians in chapter four of his letter to them. Although he had this physical ailment, the Galations loved him so much that they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if they could have (see vss. 4:13-15). His bad eyesight was the thorn in his flesh, or infirmity, that God allowed him to keep so that he would not become proud with his revelations from God and his success as an evangelist (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; see also 14MR:56-57). Rather than healing Paul, God’s answer to Paul’s repeated prayers was, “Speak to Me no more of this matter. My grace is sufficient. It will enable you to bear the infirmity.” Here, we can see that despite having even the faith in Jesus that Paul had, it did not heal Him as it was not God’s will that he be healed.
In most cases, strengthened by God’s grace to follow His eight doctors, all the while asking His blessing, we can hope for restoration of our health, but it is not always God’s will for us to be healed. Because of accidents and hereditary conditions, physical ailments will continue until Jesus returns. However, one thing is certain, we can trust our physical condition and our entire beings in the hands of Jesus. He promises to give us sufficient “grace” or strength to continue to walk with Him in peace regardless of the outcome.