“Jehovah will sustain him on his sickbed.”
SONGS: 23, 138
1, 2. What did God do in Bible times, and what might some wonder today when they are sick?
IF YOU have ever been seriously ill, you may have asked, ‘Will I get better?’ Or perhaps a family member or a friend is sick and you wonder if he or she will get well again. It is normal to want good health for yourself and for the people you love. In the Bible, we read about some who were not well and who wanted to know if they would get better. For example, King Ahaziah, the son of Ahab and Jezebel, wondered if he would recover from an injury. And later, King Ben-hadad of Syria was sick and asked if he would get better.
2 The Bible also tells us that in the past, Jehovah sometimes healed people by means of a miracle and even used his prophets to resurrect some who had died. (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:17-20, 32-35) Today, some people who are sick might wonder if God will also do something to help them get better.
3-5. What can Jehovah and Jesus do, and what questions will we discuss?
3 Jehovah has the power to affect people’s health. He punished some with sickness, such as the Pharaoh in Abraham’s time and later Moses’ sister, Miriam. (Genesis 12:17; Numbers 12:9, 10; 2 Samuel 24:15) And he punished the Israelites with “sickness or plague” when they were unfaithful to him. (Deuteronomy 28:58-61) At other times, Jehovah protected his people from getting sick. (Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:15) He even healed some of them. For example, he cured Job when he was very sick and wanted to die.
4 We are sure that Jehovah has the power to heal those who are sick. Jesus too can heal the sick. When he was on earth, he cured those who had diseases such as leprosy or epilepsy. He healed blind people and those who were paralyzed. (Read Matthew 4:23, 24; John 9:1-7) Those miracles help us look forward to the wonderful things Jesus will do in the new world. At that time, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”
5 But if we get seriously sick, can we expect Jehovah or Jesus to heal us by means of a miracle now? And what should we think about when choosing a treatment?
RELY ON JEHOVAH WHEN YOU ARE SICK
6. What does the Bible say about the miracles that Christians in the first century performed?
6 In the first century, Jehovah anointed Christians with his holy spirit and gave some of them the ability to perform miracles. (Acts 3:2-7; 9:36-42) For example, they could heal people and speak in different languages. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) But later those miracles ended, just as the Bible said they would. (1 Corinthians 13:8) So today we cannot expect a miracle from God to heal us or our loved ones.
Jehovah knows exactly what his servants are suffering, and he does not forget their faithfulness
7. How can Psalm 41:3 encourage us?
7 But if you are sick, Jehovah will comfort and support you, as he did his servants in the past. King David wrote: “Happy is anyone who shows consideration to the lowly one; Jehovah will rescue him in the day of calamity. Jehovah will guard him and keep him alive.” (Psalm 41:1, 2) Of course, David did not mean that a good person living at that time who showed consideration for a lowly one would never die. So how would Jehovah help that good person? David explained: “Jehovah will sustain him on his sickbed; during his sickness you will completely change his bed.” (Psalm 41:3) Jehovah knows exactly what his servants are suffering, and he does not forget them. He can give them courage and wisdom. Jehovah has also made the human body in such a way that it can heal itself.
8. According to Psalm 41:4, what did David ask Jehovah to do for him when he was seriously sick?
8 In Psalm 41, David also tells us about the time when he was seriously sick and felt weak and anxious. It seems that at that time, his son Absalom was trying to become king instead of him. David was so ill that he could not stop Absalom. He knew that his family problems resulted from his sin with Bath-sheba. (2 Samuel 12:7-14) So, what did he do? He prayed: “O Jehovah, show me favor. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.” (Psalm 41:4) David knew that Jehovah had forgiven his sin, and he relied on God for help during his sickness. But was David expecting a miracle from Jehovah?
9. (a) What did Jehovah do for King Hezekiah? (b) What did David expect from Jehovah?
9 It is true that sometimes God chose to heal people. For example, when King Hezekiah was dying, Jehovah healed him. Hezekiah lived for 15 more years. (2 Kings 20:1-6) But David did not expect a miracle. Instead, he was expecting God to help him in the same way that God would help “anyone who shows consideration to the lowly one.” David had a good relationship with Jehovah, so he could ask Jehovah to comfort him and take care of him during his sickness. He also asked that his body would heal and he would get better. We can ask Jehovah to help us in the same way.
10. What happened to Trophimus and Epaphroditus, and what does that teach us?
10 In the first century, not all Christians were healed by miracles even though the apostle Paul and others could heal the sick. (Read Acts 14:8-10.) The apostle Paul healed the father of Publius who was sick with a fever and a serious infection. Paul “prayed, laid his hands on him, and healed him.” (Acts 28:8) But Paul did not heal everyone he knew. One of his friends, Trophimus, traveled with Paul on a missionary journey. (Acts 20:3-5, 22; 21:29) When Trophimus got sick, Paul did not heal him. So Trophimus had to stop traveling with Paul and stay in Miletus to get better. (2 Timothy 4:20) Another one of Paul’s friends, Epaphroditus, got sick and nearly died. But the Bible does not say that Paul healed him.
WHAT ADVICE SHOULD YOU ACCEPT?
11, 12. What do we know about Luke, and how might he have helped Paul?
11 Luke was a doctor, and he traveled with Paul. (Acts 16:10-12; 20:5, 6; Colossians 4:14) He likely helped Paul and others when they got sick on their missionary journeys. (Galatians 4:13) Just as Jesus said, “those who are ill” need a doctor.
We need to be careful when someone gives us advice about our health
12 Luke was not just someone who liked to give advice about health. He was trained to be a doctor. The Bible does not say where or when he got his training. But it does say that Paul sent greetings from Luke to the Colossians. So it is possible that Luke was trained in a medical school in Laodicea, a city near Colossae. Also, when Luke wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts, he used specific medical words. Because he was a doctor, he included many stories of occasions when Jesus healed people.
13. What must we remember before giving or accepting advice about health?
13 Today, none of our brothers can perform miracles and heal us. But because they want to help us, some might give us advice even when we do not ask for it. Of course, some suggestions are harmless. For example, Paul suggested that Timothy drink some wine. Timothy had stomach problems, possibly because he drank polluted water. * (See footnote.) (Read 1 Timothy 5:23.) But we need to be careful. A brother might try to convince us to take a certain kind of medicine or herb or to eat or avoid certain foods. He might tell us that it helped someone in his family who had a similar problem. But this does not mean that it will help us too. We must remember that even if many people use a medicine or a treatment, it may still cause a lot of harm.
USE GOOD SENSE
14, 15. (a) What kind of people should we be careful of? (b) What can we learn from Proverbs 14:15?
14 We all want to be healthy so that we can enjoy life and work hard for Jehovah. But we are imperfect, so we cannot avoid all sickness. When we get sick, there may be a variety of treatments, and we have the right to decide which to accept. Unfortunately, some people and companies say that they have found a treatment that will cure our illness. They do that because they want to make a lot of money. They might say that many people used that treatment and got better. And if we are sick, we might be willing to try anything that could help us feel better and live longer. But we must not forget the advice in God’s Word: “The naive person believes every word, but the shrewd one ponders each step.”
We must use good sense and be careful about what we believe
15 If we are shrewd, or wise, we will be careful about what we believe especially if the person giving us advice has not had proper training. We will ask ourselves: ‘He says that this vitamin, herb, or diet helped people, but do I know for sure that it really helped them? Even if it has helped others, how do I know that it will help me? Should I do more research and talk to some who are well-trained to treat my health problem?’
16. What should we consider when making decisions about our health?
16 When we are deciding which test to have or which treatment to accept, we need to have “soundness of mind,” or use good sense. (Titus 2:12) This is especially important if the test or treatment seems very unusual. Can the person we consult explain how the test or treatment works? Is the explanation strange? Do many doctors agree that this test or treatment can cure people? (Proverbs 22:29) Perhaps someone tells us that a new cure has been discovered somewhere far away and that doctors do not yet know about it. But are there any facts that prove there is such a cure? Some may even offer treatments that use a secret ingredient or an unknown force. This can be very dangerous. Remember, God warns us not to use supernatural or magical powers.
“GOOD HEALTH TO YOU!”
17. What normal desire do we have?
17 The governing body in the first century sent a letter to the brothers in the congregations to tell them some things that they had to avoid. At the end of the letter, the governing body wrote: “If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!” (Acts 15:29) Although the last few words were just another way to say good-bye, they remind us that it is normal to want to have good health.
18, 19. What can we look forward to in the new world?
18 Because we are imperfect, we cannot avoid all sickness. And when we get sick, we do not expect a miracle from Jehovah to heal us. But we can look forward to the future when God will heal us completely. At Revelation 22:1, 2, the apostle John spoke about “water of life” and “trees of life” that will heal everyone. This does not refer to some herbal remedy that we can take now or in the new world to heal us. Instead, it refers to all that Jehovah and Jesus will do so that we can live forever.
19 We look forward to that wonderful time. But for now, we are sure that Jehovah loves each one of us and that he understands how we feel when we suffer. Like David, we are confident that if we get sick, Jehovah will not abandon us. He will always take care of those who are faithful to him.
^ par. 13 The book The Origins and Ancient History of Wine says that scientists have found that typhoid and other dangerous germs die quickly when mixed with wine.