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Q. I don't understand why God heals some people and not others. Those who aren't healed—is it because they don't have enough faith or that they're somehow out of God's will?
—Eleanor Jackson, via e-mail
A. That's a question people have wrestled with for centuries. The sovereignty of God isn't something we can easily understand or explain. Over and over in the Scriptures, we find accounts of God's awesome power, his supernatural ability to heal and restore. We read verse after verse on his great love for us, his desire that we live life abundantly, and receive all that he has to give us. We're told to pray for the sick in faith that they will be healed (James 5:14-15).
So why aren't some people healed? It's true that there are biblical examples of people whose prayers were hindered because of a lack of faith or as a result of sin in their lives—of which they had not repented. I guess that's always a possibility.
But there are just as many—if not more—examples of righteous, godly men and women who experienced trials and tribulations through no fault of their own, and who did not receive miraculous deliverance. Their suffering forced them to depend on God completely and drove them to a deeper relationship with him. It taught them wisdom and maturity. It produced character. Hebrews 11:35 indicates that for some, enduring suffering—rather than being delivered from it—was a deliberate choice! These saints understood that the rewards they would receive in heaven were far greater than any pain they experienced in this life.
The apostle Paul was able to keep a heavenly perspective on the adversity that believers experience in this world:
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
And we would do well to embrace Paul's outlook. So when a loved one is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, when someone we know needs healing, how should we pray?
Well, first of all, we pray for God's will—for his purposes—to be accomplished. Pray that the person will experience grace and peace, that God will give them strength and courage as they face this trial. And yes, by all means, pray for their healing. Because it is God's will to heal them. Just remember that some believers receive their healing on earth, while others receive it in heaven.
The Scriptures say, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).
Those who've received that crown wouldn't trade it for anything!
Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It To Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway) and Take It to Heart: 60 Meditations on God and His Word (Crossway).
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.
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