Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Does God Not Heal And Save Despite Belief And Prayers?

             There’s pain and sickness all around us. As you read this article, you could be in pain. I am in moderate physical pain and have been in intense emotional pain. Moreover, those we know and do not know are suffering from a variety of painful situations. Christians as well as non-Christians are in pain.

            No one enjoys being in pain. No one enjoys observing the painful existence or the death of a loved one.

            When in pain we solicit help. Apart from atheists, the others pray to God for deliverance, healing and relief. It is more than just a mere fact that the walls of the hospitals have heard more intense prayers than the walls of the churches. Then there are local support systems (friends, hospitals, counseling centers etc.) that serve many.

            When we ardently believe in God and earnestly approach HIM in prayer, we expect healing and deliverance from the most gracious and the most loving God. God does heal; but healing and deliverance does not always happen, which is precisely why we have overcrowded hospitals and innovative measures to bury the dead or as an alternate, choose cremation.

            Some Christians teach that all sickness is because of sin. While sickness could be because of sin (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11: 29-30), we should also recollect that Christ denied that very notion, “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1–3). Therefore, to state that sickness is always because of sin is theologically incorrect.

            It’s also not always true that Satan is the source of all sickness. These verses (Exodus 4:11, 2 Kings 15:5, Luke 1: 19-20) assert that God sends sickness. There are also situations when God sends evil upon the most righteous, “they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him…” (Job 42: 11, RSV, Emphasis Mine).

             I recently witnessed the death of a new born which was a consequence of a complicated pregnancy. In this instance, the new born died despite her parents’ ardent belief in God and fervent prayers. On the other hand, I have witnessed births of premature babies who continue to enjoy good health. So on one hand, God took away the life of a newborn but in another instance, HE blessed the newborn with life and good health.

            We can extend this situation to many scenarios. There are remarkable illustrations of freak accidents and freak births. Consider the lives of Joni Eareckson Tada, Nick Vujicic and many many more.

            Joni is paralyzed shoulder-down after a freak accident that fractured her 4th and 5th cervical levels. Nick was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of four limbs. Joni continues to remain a quadriplegic and Nick remains without his four limbs. Significantly, they remain grateful to God and continue to serve HIM with faith and fervor.

            Another famous argument against God is that HE does not heal amputees, even the amputees who are faithful Christians. Even the most famous pastors are not exempt from the predicament of pain. The author of best selling ‘Purpose Driven Life,’ Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide recently.

            So the question ‘why does God not heal everyone’ is indeed pertinent.

            The greater problem is that some Christian teachers preach and teach that lack of faith in Christians defeats God’s plan to heal. This motivates a conclusion that Pastor Rick Warren did not have faith in God; hence God did not save his son from suicide. But it may be absurd to treat Pastor Rick Warren as an unbeliever. Therefore pain and death seem to be the lot of those who have utmost faith in Christ.

            We could also observe pain and healing from the perspective of God’s sovereignty. If God wills not to heal, then HE would not heal. This is the implication of God’s sovereignty.

            There are some who were not healed by God in the Bible, they are: Elisha (2 Kings 13: 14), Apostle Paul (Galatians 4:13-15; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), Timothy (1 Timothy 5: 23), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25–27).

            Even Jesus did not heal everyone. For example, at Bethesda, Christ healed only one, although there were many who were ill there (John 5: 1-8).

            This affirms the notion that while God does heal; healing is not always assured to everyone.

            When God’s sovereignty is juxtaposed with God’s perfect justice and love, there should be very good reasons as to why God does not heal everyone. However, the sovereign God is not constrained to make it known to men. This too is an entailment of God’s sovereignty.

            How then do we understand the verses that proclaim healing upon God’s children? An oft quoted verse is Isaiah 53: 5, “by his wounds we are healed.” Hebrew word study reveals that “heal” (Hebrew “rapah”) does not always refer to physical healing, e.g. “Rapah” refers to spiritual healing in Jeremiah 3:22 (healing of faithlessness). The other two much quoted verses 1 Peter 2: 24 and Matthew 8: 16-17 are quotes of Isaiah 53.

            Suffering is an integral part of Christian life (John 16:33, Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 4:8–10, Philippians 1:29, Hebrews 11: 35-38; James 5:10). Therefore, our attitude should be that of Job’s, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10).

            Failure to receive healing from God is not a universal indication of our faithlessness or our sinfulness. Of this we must be sure. However, we should consciously ensure that we do not fall ill by indulging in sinful activities.  

            Therefore we infer that while God does heal, healing is not assured to everyone. While God may not heal everyone, HIS peace and guiding presence is available to all those believe in HIM during their trials and tribulations. So while we pray, we pray for healing as well as wisdom, peace, comfort and encouragement especially when healing does not come our way.

            Whether we are healed or not, we can always glorify God. To glorify God during our times of trials and tribulations is a greater testimony to God’s presence, and may we do just that. Amen. 


Anonymous said...

Scripture says we are more than conqurer in Christ Jesus. He also has given us all weapons to fight the afflictions n so we are commanded to resist the devil n he will flee.
We need to know the new covenent in in heb8:12 n also that we are a new creation n no sins are imputed on us anymore becase we are washed by the blood of Jesus once for all.

sarah said...

'' Scripture is full of truth that will heal souls,just as a pharmacy is stocked with remedies for bodily disoders; but in both cases a misapplication of what, rightly used, will heal, will have a disastrous effect. If, instead of dabbing iodine on, you drink it, the effect will be the reverse of curative. The doctrines of new birth and new life can be misapplied too, with unhappy results. -
an inaccurate application. '' quote from knowing God by JI Packer.

However well meaning the teaching is, in Is.28:20 we read of short bed and narrow blanket - a long term discomfort and discontent.

Oliver said...

God does heal. He commands us to heal:

Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

What was commanded to the disciples is commanded to us:

28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Jesus' death provides healing of the body:

Matt 8:16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

We know beyond question that Isaiah 53:4 (quoted there) applies to all our sins. Therefore it must also apply to all our diseases.

Unbelief stops healing:

Mark 6:5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief.

Our problem in healing is that we have been trained to unbelief. We have been told that healing is rare; we do not believe that we can heal; so we don't and can't, because God will not respond to unbelief.

This is not written out of my experience but to build up my own faith!

Raj Richard said...

Thanks to Oliver, Sarah and Anonymous for your comment.

Oliver, do you realize that the sovereignty of God is compromised when a statement such as "unbelief stops healing" is made?

To say that man's unbelief limits God is to make man more powerful than God. This then opens up the discussion to the healing of the unbelievers. If God does not heal them then who does? Does Satan heal them? Where is the Scriptural proof for Satan induced healing?

I am not saying that God never heals, God does heal. But there are tenable situations where God does not heal, and I have provided Biblical support for my claims.

But my overarching point is that it is not the believer's belief that's an impediment to not receiving healing, but God's sovereign decision.

Please do not blame the believer for everything. Moreover, it is only God who TRULY knows whether a man believes in HIM or not, no one else can say that for sure.

Thanks for hearing me out...God bless.

Oliver said...

// Oliver, do you realize that the sovereignty of God is compromised when a statement such as "unbelief stops healing" is made? //

It is the bible that says that Jesus could not do many mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief.

Yes, it is God's sovereign decision to heal, but faith is an important factor in his decision:

Matthew 17:14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Raj Richard said...

Oliver, thanks for your response.

1. The 'unbelief' you have mentioned is an unbelief in Christ. It is not an unbelief in Christ's healing powers.

2. You may desire to quote Mark 6:5 than Matthew 13:58, because the Markan account seems to indicate an inability of Christ to heal "And He could do no miracle there." But immediately after, the text says this, "except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them..." So we do see Christ healing there despite people's unbelief.

The Markan text does not say that those who were healed were healed because of their belief, so this argument cannot be reasonably sustained.

3. The Matthean text, on the other hand, clearly says that "And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief."

Some food for your thought.

sarah said...

Also, there are miracles of grace where the recepient never asked for
a miracle, but Jesus was moved by compassion and He went ahead and acted.

Elijah was sent only to one woman in Zarephath when there was a famine and she was provided for. It is the Sovereignty of God.

God cannot be made to act based on my demand. As someone said He is not a celestial bell-boy.


Raj Richard said...

Very true, Sarah. Very valid points indeed. Thanks much.