The first kind of deliverance that we will discuss in greater depth is physical deliverance. This kind of deliverance is according to the will of God, and is not absolutely guaranteed on this side of our death bed or the rapture of the church, no matter what we do, believe, or pray. It is common in certain branches of “Christianity” to teach that it is never the will of God for genuine believers to experience pain, suffering, poverty, or physical death. While this kind of teaching is very popular, it is certainly not Biblical. God does heal. He does deliver from premature death in many situations. He often in His kindness limits our pain and sufferings and often financial prospers His children, however this is not always the way that He operates in the lives of His children, and there are actually good reasons for that. Let us look at several passages of scripture that provide the full picture of a Biblical worldview of deliverance from human suffering, sickness, and pre-mature death.
In James 1:2 we are told to “count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the trying of our faith produces patience.” Many times, God in His wisdom knows that we need to experience physical suffering as a part of our spiritual growth. God is more concerned with our holiness as a believer, then our temporary happiness in this world. Notice what God told Paul in
2 Corinthians 12:7 concerning his thorn in the flesh. Paul says, “I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul properly responded to God’s answer to his prayer. Notice what he says to God. “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul wisely as a mature believer, humbly accepted God’s answer to his request. It is interesting, that Paul even says that he will boast in his infirmity, because he rested in the goodness and wisdom of God.
My mind is drawn to yet another passage of scripture that presents the full picture of a Biblical view of suffering and physical deliverance, in Hebrews 11:33-39. In this passage, we tend to reflect on those who saw great triumphs by faith, but notice the complete picture recorded for us as a comfort and motivation to the Jewish believers who were tempted to compromise under the weight of persecution. The writer of Hebrews says: “through faith these believers, subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” These are wonderful testimonies of God’s amazing deliverance from physical suffering and death. However the passage does not stop there. It says: “And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith.” For some, God delivered them from their trials, while others, He carried through their trials. In fact for some their deliverance was physical death and the hope of a perfect resurrection, not ease, and safety from all problems.
The point of this section is not to downplay the power of God and His ability to heal and deliver in the greatest struggles of our lives. We see countless examples in scripture of the mighty hand of God blessing and delivering, but there is one common denominator in all these events. That deliverance was always temporary. Every person whom God miraculously delivered from death and various desperate situations eventually died. Those who were healed from terrible illnesses eventually became sick again and died. Those who financially prospered did not take their riches with them. Salvation in the physical sense is always limited on this side of the eternal state, and we must keep this in correct focus. Let us rest in the sovereignty of our all-wise God who does all things well according to His perfect will!