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Is It Always God’s Will to Heal?

Jesus Healing 2

God’s Will to Heal

Jesus showed us that it is often God’s will to heal the sick.

Think of the man with the withered hand, and how Jesus restored his hand to full use (Matthew 12:9-14).

Or of the paralyzed man who, after meeting Jesus, walked away carrying his mattress (Mark 2:1-12).

Or of the man blind from birth, who obeyed Jesus’ command, washed in a pool, and came back seeing (John 9:1-7).

But that was then.  What about today?

Healing Today?

Jesus healed the sick because of his compassion (Matthew 14:14), and because he wanted to show that he was the Son of God (John 20:30-31).

But healing did not stop with Jesus.

The New Testament shows that God wants his people to pray for the sick, and that he will often bring supernatural healing as a result (1 Corinthians 12:9; James 5:13-16).

But does that mean it is always God’s will to heal someone now, in this life?

Always God’s Will?

I believe the answer is No.

I believe there are times when God, in great love and compassion, allows an illness to remain in order to bring the sick person even more joy in God than he would have had otherwise.

That’s what happened with Paul and his thorn in the flesh.  Three times Paul prayed earnestly that God would remove the thorn.

And God answered Paul; but not with the answer we might expect.

God told Paul that He would not remove the thorn; that He would allow it to remain because Paul would experience more of God’s grace with the thorn than without it (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

But Many Say Yes

But today many people say it is always God’s will to heal now, in this life.

They teach that if we just believe enough, God will always heal.

But I do not see that taught in Scripture.

And I believe that this teaching is harmful, because it says God promises something which He does not promise.

As a result, when people are not healed, this teaching causes some to think God does not keep his promises, and causes others to think the reason they are not healed is because of their weak faith.

So what leads people to think it IS always God’s will to heal?

On Earth as It Is in Heaven

One reason they say this is because Jesus calls us to pray “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

They point out that there is no sickness in heaven.  They say that since we should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, that means we should pray that sickness will be healed here on earth, right now, and that this is always God’s will.

But is that true? I don’t think so.  Here’s why.

No Death in Heaven

The problem is that those who teach this assume that anything God wills to have happen in heaven, is also what God wills to have happen on earth.

Now there is some truth to this.  Since Jesus calls us to pray this way, at least some of what God wills to happen in heaven he also wills to happen on earth.

But is that true that everything God wills to happen in heaven he wills to happen on earth?  No.  One obvious example is death.

God’s will is that there be no death in heaven.  But is that true for earth?  No.

The Bible teaches that all of us will die (Hebrews 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:22), and that death is an enemy of God that won’t be conquered until the Second Coming (1 Corinthians 15:26).

So it is not right to teach that everything God wills to happen in heaven, he also wills to happen on earth.

So is sickness similar to death?  Is it something God says will be gone in heaven, but which we must deal with on earth?

Wasting Away

I believe the answer is Yes.

One reason is because Paul says that “our outer self is wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:14).

This means that we all have bodies which are declining, which includes sickness.

Another reason is because Paul says we groan as we wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

Why do we groan?  The answer is because our bodies, along with all of creation, are in “bondage to corruption” because of the Fall (Romans 8:20-21).

That corruption includes everything that leads to death, including sickness.

And salvation does not remove us from this, because Paul says that “we ourselves” — saved believers — groan.

But the good news is that at the resurrection we will receive brand new incorruptible and immortal bodies (Romans 8:23).

A Little Wine

Here is another reason to believe that it’s sometimes God’s will for believers to be sick.

Paul, who miraculously healed the sick, urged Timothy to drink a little wine to help his stomach and other frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23).

But if believers are never  supposed to be sick, why didn’t Paul urge Timothy to pray for healing, or to ask others to pray for his healing?  Why did Paul urge Timothy to use medical means?

This shows that while God sometimes heals miraculously, he doesn’t always do so, and he sometimes will heal through medical means.

Through Many Afflictions

Another reason is because of what Paul preaches to churches he has just planted.

He says that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

The Greek word “tribulations” refers to a wide range of trials and difficulties, as we can see from the way it is used in 2 Corinthians 8:13 and James 1:27.

It does not refer just to persecution, because there is another Greek word that does refer just to persecution, the word diogmos, which Paul does not use here.

So the most natural reading of Acts 14:22 is that the the road to heaven takes us through all kinds of trials and difficulties, including sickness.

What to Do

So what should you do if you are sick?

Turn to Jesus with your doubts and fears and unbelief.  Trust him to forgive you for any sin, strengthen your faith, and satisfy your heart.

Be assured that because of his death on the Cross, and his perfect righteousness covering you, you are fully accepted and delighted in by the Father.

Then, pray for healing (James 5:13).  Ask others to join you, including the elders of your church (James 5:14-15).

And if God does not heal you, trust his promises —

  • that he will give you all the grace you need to endure this trial (2 Corinthians 9:8),
  • that he will give you wisdom for the decisions you will need to make (James 1:5),
  • that he will provide all the finances this sickness might bring (Philippians 4:19),
  • that he will give you so much joy in him through this trial that one day you will fall at his feet and thank him for it (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Questions?  Comments?

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17 Responses

  1. Shadrack Tumbo says:

    I do not agree with you brother where in the bible does it say pauls thorn in the flesh was a disease.I believe our lord healed all the sick that came to and followed by saying sin no more.If your argument is true then the bible would atleast site an incident where jesus failed to heal the sick that came to him and also the lord promises the israelites to take away sickness and diseases from them, so brother on point try and re-evaluate.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Shadrack.

      There is one time when Jesus did not heal someone immediately. That’s when Mary and Martha asked Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus, in John 11:1-6.

      It’s true that Jesus ended up raising Lazarus from the dead. But the point is that in this case it was not Jesus’ will to heal immediately. In this case, because Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5), he stayed away for two days.

      In great love and wisdom, he chose to have Lazarus suffer two more days, and then die, before raising him from the dead.

      So this story shows that it’s not always Jesus’ will to heal someone immediately.

      Also, I believe the most natural understanding of “thorn in the flesh” is that it is some sort of physical problem.

      God does promise to take sickness away from Israel if she follows him faithfully.

      But the story of Job shows that God does not promise this to everyone, since Job was the most righteous man in all the earth, and God allowed Satan to afflict him with boils (Job 2).

      And if obedience means never getting sick, how would we explain 2 Corinthians 4:16, Romans 8:23, 1 Timothy 5:23, and the fact that we all end up dying?

      Again, thanks for the comment.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

    • Ben says:

      Shadrack, while I understand your point, I disagree. We don’t see an instance of Jesus failing to heal because he can’t fail. Everything he wills is sure to happen. He’s God, he can’t fail. We should see the context of Christ’s mission on earth….to prove he’s God and to save. Christ performed countless miracles and healings to prove his authority. It was for signs to the Jews as the old testament predicted. He still does these things today, but we also know through scripture as the article stated, that there will be sicknesses and such that won’t be taken away. We’ll go through pain for our growth to holiness. It allows us the realization that through all things we can rest in the assurance of salvation. No worries necessary. That’s growth. That’s purpose in allowing us to suffer at times.

  2. Jyoti says:

    Thank you for your sharing, Steve.
    Many Blessings.

  3. Mwanje Nekemeya says:

    Brother for me,on the point of God’s will always to heal is that,the answer is in between.Because these bodies that we do have can be attacked by any disease.But the most important issue is the inner man(the spirit) once u be born again,that new spirit is protected and sealed for it can never be attacked by sickness.Thanks

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mwanje Nekemeya.

      To help me understand what you are saying, could you give me some Scriptures that would explain your convictions on this issue?

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  4. Martin Sage says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for this great blog which I hope to be reading more and more in future. I share the same belief as you. Although One question I had is you quoted James 5:14 which states: “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” It does not say “if He wants to”. It seems like at the prayer of faith, unconditional healing takes place. Am I misreading it? Appreciate your loving approach and sharing efforts for the Glory of God!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Martin —

      James 5:14 is a verse I have struggled to understand.

      At first reading it sounds like people will always be healed if we have enough faith.

      But for the reasons I mention in the post above, I don’t think that’s what Paul taught.

      So this has made me look more closely at James 5:14.

      I noticed that James says healing will happen in response to the prayer of faith.

      Paul says there is a gift of faith, which is not saving faith, but a supernaturally-given confidence that God is going to do something miraculous (1 Cor 12:9).

      We do not all have that gift. And we can’t choose to have that gift; it must be supernaturally given in each situation.

      So I believe James’ “prayer of faith” is a prayer that’s offered with a supernatural confidence that God will heal.

      You can see more about the gift of faith in this post.

      I hope that helps.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. Kathe says:

    I think it’s wiser to admit that you aren’t sure why everyone who asks isn’t healed, instead of saying it isn’t always God’s will. Too many scriptures indicate, that it is his will. In fact we’re called to bless the lord and not forget his benefits, and the healing of ALL our diseases is one. Even if healing comes through medicinal means, who is it that gives people the insight, wisdom and understand to create medical breakthroughs? God! The truth is, we don’t know why some people don’t experience a restoration of health. A better solution is to pray until something happens. Incorporate fasting. Cry out until your need is met or the spirit of God leads you into the truth of your personal situation. Get desperate and then get even more desperate than that for an answer!

    We don’t know what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was. Could it be a physical ailment? Perhaps. But even then, it was a messenger of Satan sent to torment, so it’s not from God. God didn’t say, no I’m not healing you Paul. He said his grace was sufficient. He’s used the situation to bring Paul into a dimension of Grace, that up until that point, he hadn’t experienced. Paul had a healing of his mind due to the shift in his perspective, altered by God’s word to him. It’s just like Job. When Satan destroyed everything he had, to get him to curse God, he didn’t and God ultimately blessed him in an even greater way!

    Illness is not synonymous with aging and death is a part of life on earth. The scripture indicates both of these things. I think it’s human nature to make excuses for our shortcomings. So it’s easy to make concessions for God, when we don’t see him moving according to his word, but he doesn’t need them. Let God be true and every man a liar. We can’t believe Christ was bruised for our iniquities, pierced for our transgressions, chastised for our peace but hesitant about whether we’re healed by his stripes.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Kathe —

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      I agree that there can be many reasons why someone is not healed, including unbelief, lack of prayer, or lack of wisdom regarding healthy lifestyle choices.

      But the main question I’m raising here is whether it’s ever God’s will to allow a sickness to remain.

      And I believe the answer is Yes, as I explain in the blog post.

      It’s true that Paul’s thorn was a messenger from Satan. But the fact that Paul asks GOD to remove it shows that Paul sees God as ultimately sovereign over Satan.

      And I love your emphasis on praying until something happens — and that “something” will sometimes be a sense from the Lord that He has chosen not to heal in this life, as in the case of Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Rosea says:

    I am rose I had mini strokes and have high blood pressure an blood clots in lungs is very weak my back is an I lean forward I can’t walk at all can’t move my toes legs up part of my body I can’t stand up or sit right can’t feed my self cook or bath I am not strong in my body my hands stay numb my body hurts all the time can’t half way see heal me let me walk and things give me strenght

  7. Alison Cools says:

    Faith isn’t always easy. You have to be very carefully with saying something about it. I think a lot of people only believe in God when they need Him. For example, with the exams. That’s not good because God wants us to love and worship Him, although it’s difficult or when we don’t need Him. When someone we know is incredibly sick, we ask God for healing and if nothing happens, we can start doubting about God’s existence. But I’m convinced that everything that God does has a purpose. I think our faith shrinks year after year because there are a lot of people who suffer at the moment but if God didn’t exist maybe there was more suffering going on right now. I assume that God wants the best for everyone and that if we believe and have faith in Him, He will help us and make the world a better place.

  8. Leslie says:

    Consider if you will, that His will for our full healing, is for spiritual health.
    That Christ bore our sins on the cross to heal our spiritual sickness.
    That by His wounds, we are healed from spiritual death and infirmity.
    That it is His will for us to have abundant spiritual life.

    We know the Word cannot contradict itself.
    He says the rain falls on the just and unjust alike.
    He says on this earth we will face trials of every kind.
    He says our bodies will waste away.

    So if He says all this, it can only line up with who He is, if those scriptures on praying and believing for healing were of a spiritual nature.

  9. Amanda says:

    I became sick right after I became a Christian at 15. I have seen more of God’s miracles bc of having SLE lupus. It has become a stronger testimony bc of the hardships I’ve seen. I have given birth twice to 2 preemies when the doctors have told me it was a miracle to have given birth and for how healthy my babies were. They were born 2 months early. I have survived flesh eating bacteria twice, an induced coma, kidney failure, gangrene feet (kept them and only lost the tips of my toes). What if our temporary troubles are just to showcase the Lord’s love and power? To all of the world…

  10. Dirk van Niekerk says:

    Physical healing is definitely secondary to spiritual healing. Temporary vs eternal. See for the eternal and the rest will follow as God wills.

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