Our Creator can and does heal people. But not always. Many times God deliberately chooses not to heal.
Why would God ever choose not to heal a person?
Isn’t health and wholeness in this life what He wants for us?
Does He withhold healing because we have sin we haven’t repented of yet?
Or is it because we lack faith?
Or is it because we have simply not asked?
Any of these factors can, and often do, lead to a situation where healing is withheld. But what about situations where none of these is a factor? Consider Paul’s prayers for his own healing 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
American King James Version×. God’s reasons for answering “no” were not because of sin in Paul’s life or some lack of faith. God said “no” because He had something much bigger and much better in mind for Paul that could only be achieved through perseverance in suffering.
For believers, that bigger and better goal God has in mind is to be transformed into a new type of person who thinks and acts like Jesus himself (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×, Ephesians 4:12-15 Ephesians 4:12-15 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
American King James Version×). That transformation is what makes us fit to receive God’s gift of eternal life. If we were to receive that gift of eternal life without having first undergone this transformation in the way we think and act, eternity could end up being a very unhappy place.
God’s purpose was that Paul be moved towards this goal through physical suffering. Even in this physical suffering, Paul was following the example set down before by Jesus Himself (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×).
As with Paul’s life, our present lives with all their trials and suffering should be viewed as a training ground. Preparing us for a future that is bigger and brighter than anything we might enjoy in our present physical lives.
Why then does God choose to heal some people?
We cannot possibly know all the reasons why God chooses to heal or not to heal. However, two broad categories shine forth in the Scriptures:
1. God heals because He is compassionate. He desires to act with kindness and gentleness towards human beings. In the greater world around us human disobedience, indifference and disbelief often disrupt the flow of His compassion.
2. God heals to demonstrate His power to perform works in this world (John 9:2-3 John 9:2-3 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
American King James Version×). He often heals for the purpose of building and strengthening newly forming belief in Himself, either in the person being healed or ones looking on.
By contrast, Paul’s strong faith was tested and strengthened when he was required to persevere through the trial of not being healed.
Only God, who knows the heart, can properly assess a person’s life. Only God can know whether to heal or not heal will best move the person forward toward His goal of building the mind of Christ in them. His deep desire is that we learn to trust Him in all things including matters of healing.
To more fully explore what God’s Word has to say about the larger questions related to human suffering in this world, our free Bible study guide Why Does God Allow Suffering? is a good place to continue learning.