God's dispositional will is for us to be healed. He promises healing in many Old Testament prophecies (Jeremiah 30:17; 33:6; Isaiah 57:18–19) and promises freedom from disease in the Mosaic Law (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 7:15). Jesus commanded His twelve disciples to "heal the sick" when He sent them out (Matthew 10:8). So, if God wants everyone to be healed, why doesn't He heal everyone?
Why doesn't God heal everyone?
There are a couple different ideas that are popular among different Christian groups about why not everyone receives healing. One of them is to equate a lack of physical healing with a lack of faith in God or the presence of sin: "You must not have enough faith." The other is to credit a lack of healing to God's sovereignty, not knowing why He would willingly not heal someone: "God has reasons that we cannot know that would explain why He has not healed you." Both of these perspectives try to explain the "why" without leaving enough room for mystery. God cannot be put in a box.
Perhaps the most important factor blocking physical healing is that we live in a fallen world, and God sometimes allows natural factors to hinder healing. God is perfectly sovereign, and in that sovereignty He allows things like sin and its consequences (i.e., the realities of living in a fallen world, including illness) to exist. God can intervene in any situation, but it is not always best that He does. Though we do not always know precisely why God does not heal everyone, we can trust that He will work everything together for the good of His followers (Romans 8:28). So we remain patient in trials and trust God to ultimately work them for His glory and our benefit (James 1:2–12; Romans 5:1–5; 12:12). We also eagerly await the day of the new heaven and new earth when there will be no more sickness (Revelation 21:1–4).
We should pray in faith and ask God for healing; James 5:13–18 tells us to do so. But this is no guarantee of physical healing; there is not a magic formula of prayer or faith that results in physical healing. We see people in the Bible who were healed, and their faith was clearly important in that healing. For example, this was the case for the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8:43–48. We also see people who showed no evidence of faith themselves, but Jesus healed them. For example Jairus in Luke 8:40–56 had faith, but we are not told his daughter, whom Jesus healed, did. We even see in the man at the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:1–9 someone who was healed with no apparent faith and no apparent friends or family who approached Jesus on his behalf. We also see people in the Bible who were not healed. For example, sickness kept Trophimus from traveling with Paul (2 Timothy 4:20). Timothy had stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). Trophimus, Timothy, and Paul were all faithful servants of the Lord. Their faith was not lacking; it simply was not God's will to heal them. Even Jesus, who did God's will perfectly, did not heal everyone.
Throughout Jesus' ministry, as well as that of the apostles, miracles are used to confirm Jesus as Lord and validate the truth of the gospel message (John 7:31; Luke 11:20). Isaiah prophesied about Jesus: "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus' crucifixion made provision for our salvation and healing. We have a guaranteed "healing" here on earth in that our spirits can be saved when we submit to the lordship of Jesus. Spiritual healing is our biggest need and God guarantees salvation when we put our faith in Jesus. Physical healing is not a guarantee in this life.
Let's look at the testimony of Joni Eareckson Tada, author of the book Joni, who as a young woman had an accident which caused her to become a paraplegic. For over 45 years, she has lived in faith, whether that means she will or will not receive miraculous physical healing. She says: "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 in: www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-2/a-deeper-healing-joni-eareckson-tada, October 16, 2013).
The Lord is always good, and it is up to us to choose to remember His goodness and have faith in His way of doing things. In the words of the psalmist:
"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm 103:2–5).
Though we may not see these physical benefits on earth, we have the comfort that we will be able to fully walk in and experience them when Jesus returns. He will not always do a miracle – this is a mystery we may not ever be able to fully grasp until we arrive in heaven. We can trust that God knows what we need more than we do (1 John 5:14). God is more interested in the healing of our souls and hearts. In time, those who are in Christ will be resurrected with new bodies and health perfected in every way (Revelation 21:4).
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