Nov 22, 2015
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?
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?
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).
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Does Living by Faith Mean Doing the Same Miracles the Disciples Did?
- Why Bless God, if He Takes Things Away?
- Don’t Be Surprised by Trials
- Dealing with Loss and Grief