Will God Heal You?
God desires all people to be saved, and to come to the fullest experiential knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). His complete salvation is designed for our entire being (1 Thess. 5:23), including our spirit, our inner man that contacts God (Rom. 1:9), our soul, our personality that expresses our self (1 Pet. 1:9), and our body, our temporary dwelling place on earth (2 Cor. 5:1).
When Jesus was on the earth, He healed people from all kinds of diseases and infirmities (Matt. 4:24). After His death and resurrection, this same Jesus, now as the indwelling Spirit, continued this healing ministry through the hands of His apostles (Acts 3:7;9:34, 40;19:12; 28:9).
What about today? Can God heal you?
The Purpose of Sufferings
God, in His great love, desires us to become His many children, making us like Him (1 John 3:1-2; Rom. 8:29). He wants to share with us His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and impart into us through faith His eternal life (John 3:16). At the same time, He must cleanse us from all that is contrary to His holy nature (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 1:7; 2 Cor. 7:1). In order to perfect us in this way, God uses afflictions of all kinds. Consider these verses:
- And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)
- Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22)
So that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. (1 Thess. 3:3)
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
God's intention is to transform us and conform us to the image of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:26-30; Rom 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:17-18). He uses all things for this purpose, especially the sufferings of this life. The more we understand what God's eternal purpose is, the more we will be able to accept with joy the trials of our life.
Why Does God Heal?
By healing our body, we are enabled to serve the Lord in a fuller way, even extending the time of our ministry on the earth (Philp. 1:22-26; 2:25-27). Another reason for miraculous healing is that it provides a sign of God's reality, inspiring more people to believe and confirming the faith of those who do (Mark 16:20; John 12:10-11; Acts 2:22; 2 Cor. 12:12).
But there are also unintended consequences of miracles. They can distract people from the deeper purposes of God. God is well aware of this. Consider these cases:
- In John 2, it states that "many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men" (v. 23-24). It seems people who follow Jesus mainly for the miracles cannot be entrusted with the deeper truths. In the next chapter we read: "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus... this man came to Jesus..." (3:1-2). This man sought not miracles, but the truth beneath them. Jesus entrusted Nicodemus with a profound word of the spiritual rebirth.
- In John 6, again Jesus attracted great crowds due to the miracle of multiplying bread. Free food! Who could resist this? Yet Jesus said clearly to the crowds: "You seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled" (6:26). The sign of multiplying bread was mainly meant to lead people to Him. Jesus challenged them not to seek after mere bread, but the bread of life, which was Jesus Himself, as the Spirit of life, entering into their being (6:58, 63). After Jesus spoke this word, we read that "as a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore" (6:66). We can apply this to any miracle. God's physical healings, while wonderful and needed, are only a sign pointing us to the Lord's deeper healing of our inner man in His transforming work.
- There are many cases in which Jesus strictly charged people not to tell others of the miracles He performed (e.g. Luke 8:56). It seems that He knew it would cause human publicity, which He did not need to accomplish redemption for us. Rather, the "media" would only distract people from this.
- Herod was excited to see Jesus. He wished to see some miracles. Instead, Herod got nothing (Luke 23:8-9). Again, it appears Jesus has no intention of appealing to our need for entertainment. Miracles of any sort can easily become a mere amusement, distracting people from appreciating the Lord Himself and His purpose.
- It is also important to note that during the end times many will be deceived through signs and wonders from Satan (Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:14). Since people have this inclination to respond to miracles, Satan will use it to his advantage. This is a warning to believers to not cultivate a taste for seeking after signs and wonders. Our goal is to love Him, not just what He does. Indeed, God rebuked Israel for the same thing, for they knew His works (His miraculous doings), yet they did not know His ways (His inner being and purpose) (Heb.3:9-10).
Thus, even though Jesus was compelled by His compassionate humanity and empowered divinity to heal whenever He could, He did not seek the publicity of man, as it would just distract from His deeper purpose of redemption. Today, in Christ's heavenly ministry, His purpose is to sanctify us and transform us within, building us together to be His church and His bride. Miracles can also serve to distract us from this deeper purpose.
Is God Obligated to Heal Us?
Peter writes that Christ "bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." (1 Pet. 2:24). Many consider this as a verse to "name and claim" for miraculous healing of our body. They claim that physical healing is a guarantee for those who believe, a kind of spiritual entitlement. Yet there are many portions of the word of God that are contrary to that notion. For example, in 1 Peter itself, the apostle's emphasis throughout the epistle is to accept suffering in our life as a way of God purging us from sin (4:1) and a proving of our faith (1:7). The idea that God will always heal our body is contrary to this notion. Peter stresses the salvation, that is, the spirtual healing and renewing, of our soul, not our body (1 Pet. 1:9).
Consider the case of Paul's thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12). What was this? Some have said it was something outward, such as the continual persecution he received from the Jews. Yet Paul affirmed that such persecution was expected and normal (Acts 14:22). Why would he ask the Lord to remove such suffering? Paul even aspired to experience "the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Philip. 3:10). Jesus experienced such persecution, and so should we (Matt. 5:10-12). Instead, this thorn must be some physical malady, perhaps a disease of his eyes: "but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe... For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me" (Gal. 4:13-15). Paul knew God could heal Him from this affliction. Yet he also knew that, if it was God's will, He could also leave it alone. With such an open and subservient attitude, he prayed three times to the Lord. The divine answer was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). This caused Paul to rejoice in "weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties" (v. 10), so that Christ would be displayed in Him. What a wonderful attitude! Paul was focused not on his healing, but on Christ being glorified.
While Paul had the gift of healing (e.g. Acts 28:8), it is worthy to note that once he left a co-worker sick (2 Tim 4:20), and even told Timothy to take wine for the sake of his stomach and his frequent ailments (1 Tim. 5:23). Why did Paul do this? It seems later in his ministry, perhaps after his own dealings with the Lord concerning the thorn in his flesh, he had a fuller appreciation of the Lord's ways, and did not immediately seek miraculous healing. Rather, he sought the Lord in a case by case way, not assuming the Lord would heal physically, but always sought the Lord's organic transforming work by His indwelling Spirit.
There is also the matter of God's judgment, which is due to our sins. In these cases, God allows Satan to act on our body (1 Cor 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20; 1 John 5:16). We should not pray for healing in these cases, but rather pray for the sinning one's repentance. Only by careful prayer and fellowship can we discern these things.
Eventually, all things of Satan and the curse will be done away with (Rev. 21:4-5). God fully intends to do away with all sickness and death through Christ. Yet that day has not come. In Hebrews we learn that such powers belong to the next age, but we can taste of them today (Heb. 6:5). Today is the age of the transformation of our soul; the next age--the transfiguration of our body.
How to Pray for Healing
First, seek the Lord to determine His will concerning your affliction. Have an open and obedient heart. Be determined to accept any type of answer from the Lord. He loves you and desires to give you what you need, not necessarily what you want. You should continue to pray until He either:
- Tells you that He will heal you; or
- Tells you that He will not heal you
If His answer is that He will heal you, you can stop praying and begin praising Him! Live as if you are already healed (Mark 11:24). Do not trust your feelings, but His living word (2 Cor. 5:7).
If the answer is "No", you can stop praying and begin praising Him also! God is your Father, and He has determined that His grace is sufficient for you. He desires to display His glory in you, in your affliction. Look forward to manifesting His wonderful grace, even unto death. Jesus glorified God unto death. Now it is your turn, by the power of His resurrecting Spirit in you, to do the same. Your faithfulness will infuse faith and love into all who know you as they see how real and how great your God is. Magnify Christ in your body! (Philip. 1:20) Rejoice! Realize that your body is dust, and to dust it shall return. We have a powerful, glorious, spiritual, incorruptible body waiting for us at the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Philip. 3:20-21; Rom. 8:23). This is our hope. Our hope is not in temporal healing. Even if He heals us, we will still die. We have a living hope, who is Christ Himself (Col. 1:27).
If you have no clear speaking from the Lord, keep praying. I am not sure what Paul meant by saying he "implored the Lord three times" concerning the thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:8), but I doubt he meant three quick prayers in one day. More likely, Paul set aside a considerable time, perhaps several days, with fasting, in which he focused his prayer on the matter of the thorn in his flesh. When he received no clear answer, he let the matter go for a time. Perhaps weeks later, he again set aside time to pray. Finally, in the third intense session of this kind of prayer, a break through was made. He had the answer. God would not heal him, but instead supply him with grace to express Christ.
I wish you well in your spiritual journey with Christ.