We know that God can provide divine healing, but do we understand what He is doing when He heals—and why?
If you need healing, this may be the most important question you ever ask!
In the midst of a crisis, we often ask, "Where is God?" We wonder, "Why is He allowing me to suffer?" or, even "Why did He allow my loved one to die?" Such questions may run through our minds in stressful and despairing moments when we face sickness, pain and even the possibility of death.
But maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Instead of judging God for not intervening quickly, we should be asking a different question. If we need God's healing right now, we should ask the fundamental question: Why does God heal? Read on for the answer!
To understand healing, we must understand the "big picture" perspective about sickness and death. What is God's perspective on human life? First of all, human life is very short! Contrast that with God's life, and the difference in perspective is enormous! The prophet Isaiah explained, "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy" (Isaiah 57:15). God has been alive from eternity past, and He will live on forever into the future. This is difficult for our minds to grasp! Furthermore, He is preparing us to share in that never-ending life with Him, through the resurrection of the dead (John 5:24). We have an amazing future that, from our current perspective, we can only begin to comprehend!
Reflecting on the brevity of human life, King David observed, "My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away as grass" (Psalm 102:11). And yet, our brief life is leading to a great and marvelous future: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
Sometimes God mercifully lets a man or woman die—even a righteous person—to be spared coming times of trouble. This is also an important perspective to grasp. "The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil" (Isaiah 57:1). This is God's perspective.
Even so, our God is a merciful and compassionate Father who knows our frame, our physical weakness and our frailty (Psalm 103:14). Jesus Christ Himself came so that we might have life, and "have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). When He gave His life for our sins, He also offered His body to be wounded for our sicknesses—for our healing (1 Peter 2:24). We read that when Jesus saw the multitudes following Him, He "was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14).
Some believe that looking to God for healing is for less-educated Christians, and that miraculous healing was just "for a more primitive age," less sophisticated than ours (Healing, Francis McNutt, pp. 17, 20). However, nothing could be further from the truth! Divine healing is for God's faithful people in all ages. Notice what David said: "Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive… The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed" (Psalm 41:1–3).
God heals because He loves us and looks on us with mercy, as we look to Him in faith and obey Him. Like any loving Father, He derives great joy from granting His children gifts that are good for them. But God also has other reasons for healing. What are they?
When we need healing, do we do the obvious? Do we go to God and ask God for it? Jesus Christ told His disciples to "ask, seek, and knock" for the things they needed from their Father. He explained, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11).
The principle is: we need to ask! God wants us to come to Him, to lay out our requests before Him and ask for relief. Yet, as authors James and Carol Garlow point out, "Ironically, it is when we most need God's healing power that we may have the hardest time asking for it" (God Still Heals, p. 20).
Why are we sometimes afraid to ask? Sometimes we feel distant from God, ashamed of our sins. Sometimes we may feel unworthy to receive God's awesome blessings. But we must not let anything hold us back from humbly going to God to ask for healing. If you are in need of healing, go to God and cry out to Him! Repent of your sins and ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him to help you obey Him more fully. Let Him know that you are serious about your request. And do not give up! Learn from the example Christ gave of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1–7).
The prophet Hosea chastised the disobedient nation of Ephraim for making an outward show of religiosity but not really praying from the heart! "They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail on their beds" (Hosea 7:14, NIV). If we desperately need answers to our prayers, are we really making a heartfelt effort to draw closer to God?
Asking God in faith also means accepting His answer—whatever it may be. Some people assume that if God does not grant their requests, He has not answered their prayers. Reporter William Lobdell is the author of Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America—And Found Unexpected Peace. The book details his journey from unbelief to mainstream Christianity, then back to atheism. When interviewed about his book, Mr. Lobdell said "a big turning point in my de-conversion was that there are no legitimate studies showing that prayer worked" ("Losing his religion, finding peace," Charlotte Observer, March 7, 2009).
Prayer does not work? From whose perspective? Is prayer just about getting what we want—or is it about seeking God's will rather than our own? Although the Apostle Paul begged God three times to heal him of a "thorn in the flesh," God appears to have answered, "No!" Did Paul respond by "losing his religion"? Not at all! He accepted, in faith, that God's will was paramount. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
David was a man of God who prayed fervently and repeatedly asked for God's deliverance. He cried out to God, "Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake! For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?" (Psalm 6:4–5). What was David really saying? He was conveying to God, "I want more time to live Your way of life, God. I want more time to do Your work. I want more time to submit to Your will in my life!" When we ask God for healing and deliverance, is this what we are really seeking? Or are we just asking Him to make our pain go away?
The Apostle James explained the role of God's ministers in our healing. When we need divine healing, Scripture commands us to call for His ministry and ask to be anointed. "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14–15). There is nothing "magic" about the minister himself, nor the oil he uses in the anointing. It is God who performs the healing, whether the minister physically lays hands on the sick individual or whether he follows the Apostle Paul's pattern of sending an anointed cloth (Acts 19:11-12).. If you seek God's healing, do not fail to approach God's true ministers for counseling and anointing.
In recent decades, many people in our Western nations have lost interest in God, and some have simply lost track of Him. A recent Associated Press article described this disturbing trend: "Between 2007 and 2014, when Pew conducted two major surveys of U.S. religious life, Americans who described themselves as atheist, agnostic or of no particular faith grew from 16 percent to nearly 23 percent. At the same time, Christians dropped from about 78 percent to just under 71 percent of the population. Protestants now comprise 46.5 percent of what was once a predominantly Protestant country" (Zoll, Rachel, "Study: More Americans Say They Have No Religion," Herald & Review, May 16, 2015). The researchers state that the findings "'point to substantive changes' among the religiously unaffiliated, not just a shift in how people describe themselves" and that their unbelief has led to increasing efforts to "keep religion out of public life."
And yet, in ancient times, God performed miracles such as divine healing to reveal who He was! When God released Israel from slavery in Egypt, He had to re-introduce Himself—and His power—to an unbelieving and skeptical nation. In addition to revealing His Sabbath, His Holy Days and His commandments, God revealed Himself through miraculous acts of healing.
When Moses and the Israelites arrived at Marah, they found the waters bitter and undrinkable. But God healed those waters, and told the people, "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you" (Exodus 15:26).
Perhaps you have experienced a time in your life—a crucial turning point—when God dramatically healed you or protected you from a terrible accident. An event like this is often the starting point of many people's calling. There is nothing like a supernatural healing to let us know God is involved in our life. It gets our attention!
If God has healed you in the past, be grateful. Give thanks to God, and think about why God healed you. He may be calling you out of an unbelieving generation into a closer and more obedient relationship with Him (John 6:44).
When Jesus Christ was on this earth, He performed astounding miracles. One reason He performed His dramatic healings was to identify His mission, and to call attention to His Work of preaching the Gospel. When John's disciples came to Christ and asked if He was the Messiah, notice how He responded: "And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them'" (Luke 7:21–22).
Bible prophecy shows that false ministers in the time of the end will perform deceptive miracles (Matthew 24:24). Scripture prophesies the appearance of a "lawless one" who will perform satanic "lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9) and deceive those who have not really come to a love of the truth (v. 10). This evil figure will be able to perform "great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men" (Revelation 13:13).
And yet, Christ told His disciples that they would be empowered to perform true miracles of God—including that of healing the sick (Mark 16:18). These miracles are in the context of preaching the Gospel and preparing the way for the return of Jesus Christ to earth. "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature… And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:15–18).
How will you be able to tell the difference between "lying wonders" and the miracles of God's faithful servants? God's authentic miracles highlight the Work proclaiming the true Gospel. They validate the truth of the Bible, and show the fruit—the blessing—of obedience to God's law. As Isaiah wrote, "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). Do not let yourself be fooled by "miracles" that seek to deny the plain truth Jesus Christ taught, as recorded in your Bible!
Can healing be a test? If you think about it, great blessings can sometimes become unexpected tests. In the case of divine healing, our trial and test may not end when we are healed. After God makes us well, we should ask ourselves: has our life changed? If we made promises to God when we were suffering, have we kept those promises and brought lasting change to our life? Or, once God has delivered us from our pain, have we gone right back to our old actions and attitudes?
Perhaps you have seen it yourself. Someone is dramatically healed of serious illness, then after a few months or years of health drifts away from God's way of life, or even from God Himself. What is the lesson? Physical healing does not guarantee spiritual growth. And yet, spiritual growth and depth is ultimately God's purpose in all those He calls.
When Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, He entered a village where ten lepers lived. As He came near, they cried out for mercy. They asked for deliverance from their dread disease. In response, Jesus answered, "'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God" (Luke 17:14–15).
Imagine! After being afflicted with this terrible and incurable disease, all ten were suddenly and miraculously set free. Their life suddenly and dramatically changed for the better! But only one of the ten lepers even bothered to turn around and thank God for his healing. What about us? How quickly do we forget our anguish and turmoil—and the promises we have made to God—once we are delivered from a trial? And yet how important it is to show gratitude and honor to God, and renewed commitment and obedience, when He grants us blessings—including divine healing.
So, why does God heal? To reveal Himself, to highlight His Work, and to test His people. He heals because His sons and daughters ask Him in faith and obedience, and He heals out of His mercy and unlimited lovingkindness.
Do you need divine healing? If you do, be sure not to blame God. Instead, look to Him with gratitude for His whole plan, knowing that He can and does bring about His will in your life, as you look to Him with faith and obedience.