April 28, 2017

What If God Chooses Not to Heal?

We’ve been talking about seeking physical healing lately, and have covered the basic means God has provided for us to seek it. But what if we do all those things, and yet God chooses not to heal us?

We may be persistent and passionate in our prayers. We may remain strong in belief, sound in doctrine, and steadfast in faith. We may seek God’s help first and medicinal help second. We may even patiently wait with a confident expectation that God will heal. Yet all this does not guarantee healing. All this does not determine whether God will remove our afflictions.

When He does choose to heal, the healing is merely temporary — death has spread to all of us, because we are all sinners. Yet sometimes He chooses not to heal at all.

We cannot determine His choice. We cannot control the outcome of our obedience. Therefore, even as we obey biblical principles, we must also be willing to continue suffering.

Once again, Scripture provides examples for us to learn from — godly men and women who remained seriously ill because it glorified God. Trophimus was left in sickness at Miletus, and we never read whether he recovered. Epaphroditus suffered a sickness “nigh unto death” for the sake of spreading the gospel. Although many prayed for his recovery, and God did eventually heal him, he remained deathly ill for a while. Even the great Apostle Paul suffered a serious affliction, a thorn in his flesh, which God chose not to heal.

Our examples are not limited to Scripture. Think of Fanny Crosby, the great hymn-writer who suffered blindness. If she had been able to see throughout her life, would she have penned all those faith-filled hymns of praise to God — favorites like Blessed Assurance, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, To God Be the Glory, Near the Cross? Think about Joni Eareckson Tada, who suffered a childhood accident and remains a paraplegic to this day. She has a ministry to others who are disabled which she may never have experienced otherwise!

Not to compare my influence and effectiveness with theirs, but I have also experienced opportunities to minister that would not have existed, had God spared me from sickness or healed me in the hospital. My book Touching the Hem would not have been written. Other ministries of encouragement and relationships that God has directed me towards would simply never have existed. I’m able to empathize with those who are hurting physically, not because I’m in the same exact situation, but because I understand the underlying questions and difficulties of living with chronic illness.

Perhaps you even have a ministry or a friendship which would not have otherwise existed, had you not first suffered physically or been denied immediate healing.

Time and space limit the stories we could share, yet our stories would all prove the same truth: when God chooses not to heal, it is because we can glorify Him better through our suffering than through our wholeness.

Sadly, sometimes that glory may even be through death, something we don’t anticipate for anyone, even though eternity will far surpass our earthly lives. Yet death is a natural progression of life. As soon as we are born, we begin to die — there is “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” Life is a vapor which exists for a moment, then vanishes completely.

However, God sovereignly controls the length of each of our lives: our days are determined, the number of our months is with God, and He has appointed limits that we cannot pass. In fact, God ordained the number of our days before we were even conceived. We can neither lengthen nor shorten them on our own.

And sometimes, God ordains our days to be concluded by terrible illness. Sometimes, He lovingly takes His child home by severe physical suffering. It is certainly not easy to watch a loved one suffer toward death; however, for those who know God as their Savior, death is not a thing to be mourned. It is a home-going! Death is merely the soul’s passing from a sin-filled world to a perfect eternal home, from a broken state to a glorified state.

Yes, it is hard for those left behind. It leaves a gaping hole. It hurts. Yet God gently comforts us that the death of his saints is precious in His sight. He does not willingly grieve or afflict us; He has compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. God does not delight in ordaining death for His children — and if we truly believe that, then death will not leave us sorrowful for long.

What If God Chooses Not to Heal?

Sometimes it requires stronger faith to trust God when healing does not come. tweet this

It is a harder path, but He still leads. It is more physically difficult, but the spiritual rewards can be bountiful.

Although we might suffer tremendously here on earth, we look forward to an eternity of abundant, glorious life with Him! He promises to provide good from our suffering: beauty from ashes and joy out of mourning.

When healing does not come… we must still remain steadfast in faith and doctrine.

When healing does not come… we must continue faithfully in prayer for ourselves and others.

When healing does not come… we must learn to live rejoicing evermore, giving thanks in everything.

Whether we are healthy or sick, comfortable or afflicted, full of life or knocking at death’s door, this is His will for each one of us!

We may not understand His ways, but we can rest in knowing God is King over all!  tweet this

"We may not understand His ways, but we can rest in knowing God is King over all." - Touching the Hem

 

Note: this post has been adapted from my book, Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical SufferingWant to learn more? Visit the website to learn more about the book, download the free study guide, and find related reading recommendations. Or buy your own copy of the book here!