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Why Does God Not Always Heal?

It is not always God’s will to heal a person physically. A person may sincerely pray and truly believe that God can heal, but if it is not God’s will to provide the healing at that time, no healing will come (see 1 John 5:14). Sometimes, God’s blessings come in other ways besides physical healing.

God Heals

If it were always God’s will for people to be healed, everyone would be healed every time they became ill. If good health was always God’s will, Christians should never die. We can’t blame someone’s malady on a lack of faith, for we know, biblically, that God sometimes uses illness to accomplish His will. Also, it’s not just wayward believers who get sick. Paul“left Trophimus sick in Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20),and Paul himself had a physical ailment that the Lord declined to heal (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).

Often, Christians have an over-simplified idea of healing. They think that if they are sick, they have only to ask God to heal them and, because God loves them, He will heal them straightaway. Healing is proof of a person’s faith and God’s love. This idea persists in some circles despite the truth that every mother knows: a parent does not give her child everything he asks for every time, no matter how much she loves him.

Joni Eareckson Tada struggled with this issue for a long time. As she recounts in her book Joni, she sought physical healing of her quadriplegia. She prayed and thoroughly believed that God would heal her. In her words, “I certainly believed. I was calling up my girlfriends saying, ‘Next time you see me I’m going to be running up your sidewalk. God’s going to heal me’” (quoted in an interview with Marvin Olasky, January 17, 2013). Yet Joni is still in a wheelchair today. Forty-five years after the accident that left her paralyzed, God has still not healed her. Her perspective is of great faith: “God may remove your suffering, and that will be great cause for praise. But if not, He will use it, He will use anything and everything that stands in the way of His fellowship with you. So let God mold you and make you, transform you from glory to glory. That’s the deeper healing” (quoted on Grace to You, October 16, 2013). Some feel that God will never heal anyone miraculously today. Others think God will always heal a person with enough faith. But God will not be put into either box.

 

We must understand that healings, even in the Bible, are rare. There is no mention of any healings for the first 2,500 years of biblical history. Then, during the life of Abraham, we have a possible healing, although it is only implied (Genesis 12:17–20). Then, we have to wait until the life of Moses, who performs many signs to authenticate his authority as God’s leader. However, the only healing associated with Moses is Miriam’s cleansing from leprosy (Numbers 12:13–15).

 

In the covenant God gave to Israel, there were many provisions to regulate their lives, and there is an emphasis on physicality and material things in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 28, God promises to reward Israel’s faithfulness with freedom from disease. This is the clue to the meaning of miracles in the Bible. God pledged to Israel health, long life, children, flocks, corn, grapes, etc.—and victory over their enemies—if they stayed faithful to the Lord. At the same time, God threatened them with sickness, barrenness, disease, drought, famine, the loss of livestock, and enemy occupation if they forsook the Lord. This is the context of Israel’s relationship with sickness and healing. The promise to be kept“free from every disease” (Deuteronomy 7:15) was explicitly part of the Mosaic Covenant with Israel under the theocracy; such a promise is not given to the church.

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