Why doesn’t God choose to heal everyone who prays for it? Is there a reason?
Sin and Suffering
If you choose to sin you choose to suffer, and that’s what the world has chosen by choosing to sin. If ever there was a perfect environment it was the Garden of Eden. There was food available for the picking. There were ample supplies of everything Adam and Eve wanted. There could not have been a better environment in which to live, but Adam and Eve, even in this perfect garden, chose to disobey God, and ever since, humanity has suffered the consequences. Some people get sick or get diseases because of their own sins, but others are sick and diseased because of someone else’s sin. We might not be judged for other people’s sins but we can suffer consequences from their sins. People might think we’re a product of our environment, and to a point, that’s true, but as we have seen, even in a perfect environment where everything was “very good” (Gen 1:31), we can still chose to sin and that choice is a choice to suffer. After the fall (Gen 3), human nature took on a sinful nature, and caused humans to be anything but good (Rom 3:10-12). You don’t have to teach a 2 year old to fight for a toy with another toddler. It’s already in their nature, but if we get a disease or get sick because of someone else’s sin, why wouldn’t God heal them since it wasn’t our fault to begin with?
The Suffering Servant
There are far too many people who don’t understand what Isaiah 53:5 is all about. Some claim that where the verse says, “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b), is a promise of healing but what is the healing Isaiah is writing about? Is it a promise for God to heal everyone of everything, including the common cold? Did Jesus really die so that you could get over the flue or defeat cancer? Isaiah 53 is not about claiming this verse for themselves and saying they can be healed by Jesus’ wounds. This chapter speaks about Jesus being smitten and afflicted by God (Isaiah 53:4) for our transgressions and our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5a) and it was “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). There is nothing in this chapter about a promise for God to heal everyone who claims this verse. It’s not a “name it and claim it” verse but a verse that resides in a chapter about Jesus’ being brutally beaten and tortured and killed, not so we could get healed, but so that we could have peace with God (Rom 5:1) and have our condemnation lifted (Rom 8:1), because it was Jesus’ “chastisement that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5c), not a chastisement that we can claim to be healed. The greatest healing is not of the physical body but a spiritual healing where our sins are taken away and we are seen as having Jesus’ own righteousness (2nd Cor 5:21). Of course God can heal whom He wants to heal, but He may use our suffering as a way to make us more like Christ and to keep us humble and reliant upon God. We can be healed…but if we die again outside of the faith, what good is that?
Suffering has always been a problem on this planet. We can’t get away from the pictures of starving children, abandoned animals, and diseases and sicknesses claiming one life after another. The Apostle Paul wrote “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom 5:3), so Paul didn’t pray to have his suffering removed because he knew God was working in him to produce endurance, which Paul would certainly need as the world’s foremost missionary (at least at that time). Suffering is what we naturally tend to avoid but the Apostle Peter wrote that it is “a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1st Pet 2:19), so we should “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1st Pet 4:13). You are certainly not alone if you suffer since “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1st Pet 5:9). Paul went even further in writing that he shared in Jesus’ suffering “so that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11). If you suffer, it’s for a reason, since “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2nd Cor 1:5). If you suffer from something, you can sympathize with those who suffer from the same thing or something very similar. And most of all, we are sharing in the suffering of Christ, particularly if we suffer from persecution for Jesus’ sake.
Healing is not a given in this world. We can have faith to move mountains but if we are not healed after praying and obeying, we must trust God in all this because even the bad things can be used for good (Gen 50:20). The Christian knows (or at least should know) that whatever happens in this life will work out for our ultimate good, whether it looks like it or not (Rom 8:28), so look at today’s suffering and contrast that with the glory that’s coming, and you’ll see that today’s suffering and the glory that’s coming cannot even be compared (Rom 8:18). Today, as in the past, God is still healing people miraculously, but He has never promised to heal everyone of everything… at least not on this side of the veil (Rev 21:4).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.