Healing Stories in the Bible And What They Mean For You

Have you ever felt like healing seemed so far away? Like it wouldn’t be possible for you? What you most want is a glimmer of hope or a bit of encouragement.

The Bible provides countless examples of God healing people—some in seemingly impossible situations.

Often we think of Jesus healing people He encountered during His earthly ministry. But there are also several stories about the prophets and apostles healing people through God’s power.

This post will go over what the Bible says about healing and what that can mean for us today when we’re suffering. You’ll also learn about how healing is holistic—including body, mind, and spirit.

We’ll cover:

Before we jump into this topic, we want to note that this article is not intended to be medical or mental health advice. The promises of healing in the Bible don’t take away the necessity for seeking medical help or professional therapy.

In fact, God often works to provide healing through professionals who have the skills to meet our particular needs. He uses many different means for bringing us healing, so seeking help is not a lack of faith.

With that said, let’s start with an overview of this topic in the Bible.

What does the Bible say about health and healing?

We often think of healing as the complete removal of physical illness or injury. But in the Scriptures, healing involves the restoration of physical, mental, and spiritual health. It covers everything that makes us human.

The reason for this is that the Bible recognizes the connection between our bodies, minds, and souls (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

John also expresses his desire for us to have health in body and soul when he writes:

“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” (3 John 1: 2, ESV)

So beyond spirituality, the Bible addresses our physical health because of how it impacts our spiritual and mental health, and vice versa.

Jesus said that part of His mission on earth is to help us have a full and satisfying life (John 10:10).

And a good description of a full life is thriving physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Let’s begin with physical healing.

Physical healing

A model of a human heartPhysical healing is the restoration of the different parts of our bodies to normal functioning. It involves recovering from diseases that cause us pain and suffering.

Many Bible stories tell of people being healed from all kinds of diseases and disabilities.

A good example is healing from leprosy (2 Kings 5:1–27; Matthew 8:2–4).

Leprosy was a highly contagious disease with no cure, and anyone who had it was considered an outcast and shunned by society (Leviticus 13:45–46; Numbers 5:2). But God healed many such cases.

Many people with disabilities—even ones they were born with—were also healed in the Bible.

Examples include:

  • The blind seeing (John 9:1–38)
  • The lame walking (Acts 3:1–9)
  • The deaf hearing (Mark 7:31–37)
  • The mute speaking (Matthew 9:32-33)
  • The crippled regaining full function (Luke 13:10–17)
  • The paralyzed being restored (Matthew 9:1–8)

We’ll look at more examples in a later section.

Mental healing

An overwhelmed young man with his head in his hands, praying for Jesus' healingYou may find it intriguing that the Bible has a lot to say about mental health.

We find an example of depression in Elijah when he ran away from Jezebel, of anxiety in Martha when she was overwhelmed by hosting her guests, and of mental distress in David who was burdened with the responsibilities of leadership and constant threats from his enemies.1

And just like physical healing, we have many examples of people being healed of mental burdens in the Bible:

  • Jesus defended a woman who was being criticized by His disciples (Mark 14:3–9)
  • Elisha helped a widow and her sons pay their debt and get out of a desperate situation (2 Kings 4:1–7)
  • God helped Elijah find relief from his mental depression so he could move on (1 Kings 19:1–18)
  • Jesus relieved a distressed father by healing his epileptic son (Matthew 17:14–18)

Today, many of us experience mental health struggles, such as stress, depression, and anxiety.

Thankfully, God does not leave us alone. His Word provides us with principles for comfort and healing, and He guides us to strategies and solutions that can set us on a healthier path.

Each day, God asks us to look to Him for help, reminding us that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

He assures us that though we may face troubles in this life, we can be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

He asks us not to be anxious about anything, but to present our deepest needs to Him in prayer. And His promise is that we’ll have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7, ESV).

And beyond calming our anxieties, He teaches us how to trust Him and live a worry-free life. He will draw us to His presence where we can experience “abundant joy” and “eternal pleasures” (Psalm 16:11, CSB).

Experiencing this joy of living boosts our sense of wellbeing, which has a ripple effect on our overall health. The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, knew this when he wrote:

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).

Most of us have experienced this reality—that the more joyful we are, the healthier we feel. And the more sorrowful we are, the more likely we are to feel or fall sick.

When the Bible talks of the “heart” here, it doesn’t mean our physical heart, but the inner person, mind, understanding, soul, memories, thinking, emotions, passions, and the seat of courage.2

So when we have a “broken spirit,” it means that the core of who we are is broken.

Yet, one of the reasons Jesus came to earth was “to heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18, NKJV). We can turn to Him for the fulfillment of that promise.

Spiritual healing

A man with a cross behind him to symbolize the power of God to heal us spirituallyBeyond healing of the body and the heart, the Bible points to an even deeper need—spiritual healing.

This gift, which comes through Christ, is mentioned in Isaiah 53. Talking of Christ, it says:

But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; the punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, NASB).

The healing that Jesus secured for us through His physical pain and suffering is first of all healing of the soul.

It’s a cleansing from the things that cause our very core to ache.

Things such as guilt, shame, and regret for rebellion to God’s ways. And the depression and anxiety that come as a result of living in a broken and sinful world, full of restlessness and evil.

Jesus paid for the evil in the world and for our offenses and wrongdoings—the very things that cause disease of the soul and can even lead to mental and physical illnesses.

Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we receive forgiveness and restoration while also finding peace and true rest that the world can’t give to us.

And as we’ll see in the examples, every time Jesus healed people, He addressed this aspect of health.

Examples of healing in the Bible

Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible contain many stories of people being made well. While Jesus is the ultimate healer, His disciples, and even the Old Testament prophets, healed others through the power of God too.

Here are some of those stories.

Jesus’ healing miracles

A key part of Jesus’ ministry was healing. When He was on this earth, He was ever ready to heal and sympathize with the sick and diseased—no matter their circumstances.

And when He healed people, He was interested in their entire wellbeing: physical, mental, and spiritual.

1. Jesus restores the sight of a blind man (John 9:1–12)

A blind person using a cane to walkJesus met a man who had been born blind and healed him by placing clay on his eyes and asking him to wash it off in the pool of Siloam.

Many people believed the man’s blindness was a punishment from God. It was a common belief in the Jewish culture at this time. Even Jesus’ disciples and the priests believed God inflicted people with diseases to punish them for their sins or their parents’ sins.

But Jesus corrected them and told them that the blindness wasn’t because of his or his parents’ sins. He made it clear that not every sickness or disability is a result of something someone has done.

2. Jesus heals a paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–15)

For 38 years, a paralyzed man laid near a pool named Bethesda in Jerusalem, with no one to help him. Jesus visited him and asked if he wanted to be healed, and when the man said yes, Jesus healed him.

Later on, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him:

“See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14, ESV)

Jesus was interested in both his physical and spiritual restoration. He also wanted him to continue in a health-promoting lifestyle.

Jesus encouraged those he healed to do all they could to maintain good health. And for those who had diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles, He asked them to change their ways and stay away from the things that led to the disease.

3. A paralyzed man is made well (Luke 5:17–26)

One day, as Jesus taught in a packed house, a paralytic was carried by his group of friends to that house.

But the friends couldn’t find a way to get past the large crowd to Jesus, so they climbed to the roof and made a hole right above where Jesus was standing. Then, they gently lowered the paralytic—right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw the faith of these friends, He said to the man:

  “Your sins are forgiven you” (Luke 5:20, NKJV)

The religious leaders started questioning why He had forgiven the man (Luke 5:21), but Jesus told them He has the authority to forgive sins.

Then He went on and said to the man:

“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home” (Luke 5:24, ESV).

Here again, Jesus demonstrated interest in both spiritual and physical restoration. He first dealt with the man’s greater burden of sin and then restored his physical health.

4. Jesus heals a leper (Matthew 8:1–3)

A man kneeling on leaves and praying to God for healingLeprosy in the Bible generally referred to a range of serious skin diseases that were hard to cure.3

In the Jewish culture, it was often used as a symbol to describe sin because of the way it was contracted and so easily spread. It was a horrible and highly infectious, degenerative disease.

In fact, lepers had to live as outcasts. They weren’t allowed to come close to healthy people, and no one was allowed to touch them, either.

But going against these restrictions, a man with leprosy came to Jesus—what he felt was his only chance. The leper “knelt before Him, saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean’” (Matthew 8:2, CSB).

Jesus also went against the set “rules” and compassionately touched him to heal him.

But in order to get him accepted by the rest of the community, Jesus asked him to get an “examination.” The priests would examine him and verify that he was fully healed and safe to be around (Matthew 8:3).

By asking him to follow these procedures, Jesus helped restore the man to a position of acceptance in the community—essential to social healing as well.

5. Jesus cures a woman who bled for 12 years (Mark 5:25–34)

A depressed and fearful woman, representing the woman with the issue of blood who came to Jesus for healingAn unnamed woman had suffered from constant bleeding for 12 years. In Jewish society, she was an outcast. She had spent all her money going to doctors and trying to get help, but nothing had worked.

Jesus was her last glimmer of hope. Despite her social standing, she made her way through the crowds, determined to reach Jesus. She told herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well” (Mark 5:28, NASB).

And when she did, she was cured instantly.

But when she tried to sneak away unnoticed, Jesus asked who had touched Him. So the woman came forward and told her story. Jesus reassured her:

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease” (Mark 5:34, NASB).

What a tender Healer!

We can be encouraged that when we come to God in faith with our needs, He will be compassionate, assuring us of His peace too.

6. Jesus cures a demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1–20)

In the country of the Gadarenes, Jesus met a fierce man with an “unclean spirit.” He lived at a cemetery, and no one could tie him up—even with chains. He cried all day and night and cut himself with stones.

When Jesus approached him, the legion of demons within Him spoke and identified Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus then commanded them to leave him and enter into pigs that were feeding nearby.

After the demons were cast out, the man was “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” again (Mark 5:15, NKJV).

This story is an example of someone who was healed of a serious mental and spiritual disease. Jesus restored him completely, demonstrating His absolute power over demonic forces.

Healing by Old Testament prophets

Healings did not start in the time of Jesus. Before then, God worked through prophets who performed incredible miracles, even bringing the dead back to life.

We’ll look at some of these stories:

1. Elijah and the widow of Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17:17–24)

During a famine in Israel, the prophet Elijah stayed with a widow and her son in a region called Zarephath. God provided food for them so that they didn’t starve.

While he was there, the widow’s son became sick and died, so Elijah cried out to God, and He brought the widow’s son back to life.

Through the miracle, God extended His love and care to this non-Israelite woman. She learned about the God of Israel and chose to put her faith in Him.

2. Elisha and the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:8–37)

A woman holding a baby and looking into its faceDuring his travels, the prophet Elisha was hosted by a wealthy woman in Shunem. And since she was barren, Elisha prayed for her to conceive. God granted his request and gave the woman a baby boy.

However, when the boy grew older, he died suddenly while out working in the fields in the heat. The anguished mother saddled a donkey and rushed to find Elijah, who came and prayed for her son to come back to life.

Just like the widow of Zarephath, the Shunammite woman experienced God’s love and care for her through that miracle.

3. Isaiah and king Hezekiah (2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38)

Hezekiah, the king of Judah, became very sick with a skin infection and was destined to die. Even the prophet Isaiah came to him and told him to prepare himself for death.

But Hezekiah turned to God and prayed to be spared. God, in His patient mercy, gave him 15 more years of life. Through Isaiah, He instructed the king to place a fig poultice on his skin, healing the infection.

4. Elisha and Naaman (2 Kings 5)

While Elisha was still alive, a Syrian general Naaman, who had leprosy, came all the way to Israel to be healed.

The prophet Elisha, giving glory to God, asked him to go bathe in the Jordan River seven times. And when he did, he was healed. In fact, his skin became even healthier than it was before he had leprosy!

From this story, we learn that God may sometimes use very simple things to restore health.

Healing by Jesus’ disciples and other New Testament apostles

The disciples of Jesus also performed healing miracles—both while Jesus was on earth and after He went back to heaven.

Let’s look at some examples.

1. Disciples healing while Jesus was still with them

  • In Mark 6: 7-13, Jesus sent out the 12 disciples. As part of their mission, they “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:13, NKJV).
  • In Luke 10:1–23, Jesus sent out 70 disciples as missionaries to neighboring cities. When they returned from the mission, they joyfully reported that “even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” (Luke 10:17, NKJV).

2. Peter and Paul healing after Jesus’ ascension

  • In Acts 3:1–10, Peter and John encountered a lame beggar who had never walked before. But Peter told him, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6, NKJV). And to everyone’s amazement, the man stood up, “and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8, NKJV).
  • Paul also healed people: “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12, NKJV).

These examples of healing can encourage us that God still heals people in answer to prayer. But the question may have come to your mind:

What about when God doesn’t heal?

When God doesn’t heal

Sometimes, we may feel like God doesn’t heal us or someone we love when we need Him to. But we can trust that God has our very best interest at heart; and we can be assured that healing will come—though, for various reasons, it may not come in our timing.

Notice this passage in the book of James about prayers for healing:

“Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14–15, CSB).

We’re assured that “the prayer of faith will save the sick.” God’s ultimate desire is to save us and give us eternal life.

But right now, we live in a sinful world—a world where good and evil exist together. Sickness and disease are part of that unfortunate reality.

Often, we won’t understand the reason we’re not being healed. And that’s hard!

But there’s one thing we can be sure of: God can take the most difficult situations and use them for good (Romans 8:28). He won’t leave you to go through pain or sickness alone (Hebrews 13:5–6).

Even in the Bible, we find situations in which people prayed for healing—and longed for it—but weren’t healed. Or the healing took longer than desired.

Paul was one of them.

He had a problem—what he called “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV)—that some scholars believe had to do with his eyesight. He pleaded with God three times to take it away (verse 8).

But God didn’t take it away.

Instead, He told Paul that even as he struggled with it, God’s grace would be sufficient for him. Through weakness, Paul would find God’s strength revealed more perfectly through him (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Similarly, when our prayers for healing aren’t answered, it’s not necessarily because of what we’ve done or not done. It could be something God uses to make us stronger in Him.

Grave stoned rolled away as we study how Jesus called Lazarus out of grave and resurrected him after 4 days of his death.Then, there’s the situation of Lazarus.

Lazarus, one of Jesus’ close friends, had a life-threatening sickness. His sisters sent a message to Jesus asking Him to come, no doubt hoping he would heal their brother.

But Jesus didn’t go for another four days. And by this time, Lazarus was dead.

When Jesus arrived, he showed the distressed sisters that he had a greater plan by resurrecting Lazarus.

He used this occasion to carry out his most remarkable miracle and teach an important lesson about the resurrection.

So, sometimes healing takes a long time. But even then, God still has a plan that reveals His glory (John 11:4) and brings about a favorable outcome.

So, as you pray for healing, comfort, and peace, claim His promises both for yourself and your friends who are sick. In one way or another, He will heal, restore, and strengthen!

At the same time, God also gives us wisdom to live in a way that can foster healing. More on that next.

Healthy lifestyle that promotes healing

A woman jogging in the light of the rising sun to care for her healthGod wants a fulfilling and quality life for us, which is why He’s provided us with principles—both in the Bible and verified by science—that promote health and healing.

These principles include:

But why is it important to maintain this kind of lifestyle?

Two reasons:

  1. The Bible tells us that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” That we are not our own since we “were bought with a price.” So, we should “glorify God” in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV).
  2. These principles help us experience a quality, vibrant life.

For more on these biblical principles of healthy living, click the links in the bullet points above.

From here, we’ll turn to some final encouragement—what God tells us in His Word about His compassion and willingness to heal us.

Bible promises for healing

The Bible contains many promises for restoration of health—physical, mental, and spiritual.

And these promises are for everyone, even if you are not a Christian. God is willing to heal anyone who comes to Him in faith (Matthew 8:5–18).

Just as God told the Israelites, He tells you, “I am the Lord, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26, NKJV).

He promised that if they remained faithful to Him, He would “take away sickness from among [them]” (Exodus 23:25, NKJV).

And this is His promise to us too.

A hand reaching out toward the sun that is on the horizon beyond a lakeObedience to God’s laws or principles brought the blessing of good health to God’s people.

But even when they didn’t obey God and experienced the consequences of their actions, still “He sent out His Word and healed them” (Psalms 107:19–21, NKJV).

And throughout their history, we see Him promising them healing and restoration.

In the same way, the Lord tells us, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds” (Jeremiah 30:17, NKJV).

If you are struggling with sickness, know that “the Lord sustains [you] on [your] sickbed and restores [you] from [your] bed of illness” (Psalms 41:3, NKJV).

If your heart is broken, you can be comforted that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:17–22, NKJV).

And if you are struggling with regret and guilt, you can praise the Lord “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” (Psalms 103:2–4, NKJV).

Whatever your situation, He says:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29, NKJV).

Like David, you can affirm your faith and trust in His healing power by saying:

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11, NKJV).

And even if you feel that everything is going wrong—that you’re doing your best and praying, but your health is still failing—you can say as David did:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalms 73:26, NKJV).

You can trust God even in these hard times because one day, God will fulfill His ultimate promise to us—the promise of saving us from this world of sin and suffering. And the promise of giving us a body that will never again become sick or grow old (1 Corinthians 15:53–55).

And when God brings an end to all sin, He will comfort us forever for all we’ve been through:

“God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).

God wants you to find healing

Sickness—whether a mystery autoimmune disease, an ongoing struggle with cancer, or a long-term disability—is never easy. And God understands that. He is there to walk with you, encourage you, and strengthen you.

He wants your healing more than you do.

And He works through many different avenues for healing. First and foremost, He gives us His promises to encourage our hearts. But He also gives us wisdom to seek out the right kind of care and live out simple principles for a healthy lifestyle.

[1] 1 Kings 19; Luke 10:38–42; Psalm 35; 86. []
[2] “Heart,” Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009). []
[3] Francis D. Nichol, The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1, pp. 758-763 (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953). []

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