Hezekiah, King of Judah, was very ill and “at the point of death” (2 Kings 20:1), when the prophet Isaiah comes to him with a word from the Lord telling him to get his house in order, because he’s going to die. Hezekiah reacts the way most of us would; in despair he cries out to God and “weeps bitterly.” God’s response is very quick; Isaiah hasn’t even left the palace when God’s word comes to him telling him to go back and tell Hezekiah that he’s heard his prayer, will heal him, give him 15 more years of life, and deliver the city from the King of Assyria.
Then Isaiah does something curious: he tells them to make a fig poultice and apply it to Hezekiah’s boil.
I was really struck by that because it was God’s determination to heal Hezekiah; yet he (apparently) told Isaiah that he would do so through this poultice. I wasn’t sure if this was a medical remedy, or something on the order of Jesus putting mud on a blind man’s eyes (John 9:67). But googling “fig poultice boils” shows that it’s still a home remedy for boils today.
A couple of things that struck me:
God healed Hezekiah, but chose to do so through a medical remedy
We should pray for healing and use the means God has put at our disposal: medicine, exercise, healthy eating, etc. This doesn’t mean our trust should be in those things, but that we shouldn’t be super-spiritual: we don’t know how God may choose to heal, so we should follow the normal course of treatment.
That is, of course, in cases where there is a treatment available. Sometimes there may not be, or it may not be effective. We should do what we can, while ultimately crying out to God to heal us.
Ultimately, it was God’s will that Hezekiah be healed
The important factor here wasn't the fig poultice: it was that God had decided to heal. If healing is not God’s will in a particular case, no amount of remedies we use will be effective. If it is, even if humanly speaking there is no remedy, that is no obstacle for God.
God may heal miraculously or through medicine
I’ve been the recipient of both, and seen both happen for others. Several years ago, I collided with a car while rollerblading and injured my knee. The knee was constantly sore, and I feared that as I got older, it would get worse. More than four years after the accident, a friend laid her hand on it and said, “In Jesus’ name, be healed!” And it was, instantly.
That’s the only personal instance of miraculous healing I’ve experienced. Maybe it’s something we should experience more often, and pray for more often. But I think we pray for healing, follow medical treatment when available, and leave healing up to God, recognizing that ultimately, it’s his sovereign decision.