To ponder the question of why sometimes people don’t get healed, we are going to look at one of the six New Testament letters that the apostle Paul wrote with Timothy together, Second Corinthians. This letter was written by two men of God who were greatly used by the Lord in the miraculous ministry, yet both of whom experienced physical challenges in their lives. The truths they wrote will comfort and encourage us as we struggle with seasons of suffering and sickness, and wonder why we don’t get healed all of the time.
God comforts us so that we can comfort others:
“This letter is from Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our dear brother Timothy. We are writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all the Christians throughout Greece. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you his grace and peace. All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:1-4, nlt).
Here are a couple of thoughts from the Apostle Paul and Pastor Timothy. When we go through difficult times or sicknesses, God comforts us so that we can comfort others. There is a whole lot of pain and suffering in our world. People are sick, they are hurting, and they are broken. If, after that glorious day you became a Christian you never got sick or had troubles or challenges again, how would you be able to relate to your neighbors, family members, or co-workers who struggle in their lives? This is one of the reasons why God allows us to go through difficult trials. He never wastes our experiences. Every time we overcome difficulties, God comforts us so we can help other people who are struggling with that same problem.
I don’t know how people in the world make it today with all of the wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, terrorist threats and economic crises that are going on. I don’t know how people who don’t have Jesus as the steadfast and sure anchor of their souls can survive. We live in the same dark and troubled world as unbelievers, but with one major difference. Through it all, we can continue to have peace and joy. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). When we have friends or family members who go through difficult times, and they see us facing the same challenges without losing our peace and joy, we have an opportunity to witness to them about the Lord.
A church that emphasizes healings and miracles can have believers that focus more on the hand of God and His blessings, rather than the face of God and our personal relationship with Him. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we’re not seeing more of the gifts and blessings of God in our lives. We need to love Jesus first. Our heart’s cry must be, “Lord, I want to know you more, I want to go deeper in my relationship with you. If I get healed, I will praise you, but even if I don’t, I’m still thankful that I have you.” This is the heart attitude that Job had when he lost everything: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21). Even when he got sick, Job said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).
Learning to Trust in God:
“You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share God’s comfort. I think you ought to know about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:5-9, nlt).
Paul and Timothy were godly men, but they experienced many troubles. It is wrong to think that we only get sick or experience trouble when we sin. Sickness is not God punishing you. It doesn’t mean that God is mad at us. Stephen was a faithful preacher who was martyred for his faith in Jesus. He was doing the will of God when he died. The Lord wasn’t up in Heaven, watching Stephen preaching and saying, “Oh, look at Stephen down there. What a terrible disciple he is, preaching my Gospel and defending my name. I’m going to let him die for that!” No. Stephen was a godly man, loved by God, and yet he still died. Just because you go through a difficult time doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong.
One of the main lessons we learn from Paul and Timothy is that through their trying experiences, they learned to trust God, and not themselves. We need to learn to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding.
Changing our Perspective:
“For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, nlt).
What an interesting perspective. We know from later on in this letter that Paul was put in jail and lashed with a whip many times, and faced death again and again. Five times the Jews gave him thirty-nine lashes. He was beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, adrift at sea, and faced danger everywhere he went. Yet he said, “Our present troubles are quite small.” How could he say that? Was he in denial? Was he trying some positive confession, saying, “I’m not in the midst of a storm, I’m not in the midst of a storm!” No. Paul said: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12). He had a close and intimate, personal relationship with Jesus that gave him strength. He also looked forward with expectancy to Heaven, where he knew that there would be no more sickness or troubles, only everlasting joy.
The Apostle Paul had an understanding of the now / not-yet aspect of the Kingdom of God. “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15). The Kingdom of God was initiated during the life and ministry of Jesus, a kingdom of signs, wonders, healings and miracles. The Kingdom of God is now, but there is an aspect of the Kingdom not yet fully realized. As long as we’re living on this sin-cursed earth, we will battle against sicknesses and sins. Sometimes people are healed, and sometimes they’re not. This is a taste of the age to come.
When we get to Heaven, the Kingdom will be fully realized when “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). In Heaven, there will be no more sickness or sorrow or suffering. Until then, we must be ever-vigilant in our contending for more signs and wonders to be manifested on the Earth. This is one of the reasons why Jesus told His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10).
Bill Johnson, the Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, says, “Everything that happens here is supposed to be a shadow of heaven. In turn, every revelation that God gives us of heaven is to equip us with a prayer focus. How much of heaven has God purposed to become manifest here on earth? No one knows for sure. But we do know through church history that it’s more than we have now. And we know through the Scripture that it’s even more than has ever entered our minds (Ephesians 3:20-21).”
Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh:
“But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, nlt).
Paul had a thorn in the flesh – a physical infirmity. Just because you’re a Christian who loves Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick. Being a believer doesn’t automatically exclude you from difficulties or sicknesses. Paul pleaded for the Lord to take this physical ailment away from him. God responded by saying, “More than physical healing, your greatest need is my grace, my favor.”
When we know we have God’s gracious favor in our lives, that we are God’s favorite, His well-loved child, accepted in the beloved, adopted into His family, it is so much easier to face whatever challenges come our way.
Closing Thoughts on Why Sometimes People Aren’t Healed:
- Jesus is the Healer, and He’s still healing people today.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). We believe that Bible truth. This is a foundational statement when we look at the topic of healing. Jesus is the Lord who heals us, and He still heals sick people today. Even though people don’t always get healed – and we may never understand why – we must always hold fast to the truth that Jesus is our Healer. Let’s continue to contend for more signs and wonders in the church today.
- Just because you believe in Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick.
Although no one likes getting sick, this truth is an encouragement to us. Jesus said, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33, msg). When we know this truth, we don’t have to get discouraged when trouble comes. Trouble will come, but it doesn’t have to overcome us.
- When believing God for healing, never give up in prayer.
Let’s not allow the fact that sometimes people aren’t healed to cause us to stop praying for healing. We need to P.U.S.H. in our prayers – Pray Until Something Happens. If you know someone who’s sick, continue praying until something happens. You might ask, “Well, when should we stop praying for someone?” You don’t. You pray until something happens. What if they die? Then pray for them to be raised from the dead! And what if God doesn’t raise them from the dead? Rest confidently with the knowledge that in Heaven, they are completely healed and free from all sickness and pain. Don’t get discouraged if nothing happens. Just keep praying. Our job is to pray for the sick; God’s job is to heal the sick. That’s a freeing statement. If someone doesn’t get healed, it’s not because we couldn’t heal them. We can’t heal anybody. Jesus is the Healer.
- No matter how many miracles we experience in our lives, one day we will die.
That might not seem like a very encouraging thought, but it is the truth nonetheless. Right in the midst of their letter about finding God’s comfort in the midst of suffering, Paul and Timothy wrote: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down – when we die and leave these bodies – we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1, nlt). You don’t want to live forever in a tent. In Heaven, Jesus is building mansions for us (see John 14:2, nkjv, if you don’t believe me). Our transition to Heaven is an upgrade: goodbye tent, hello mansion!
You might only experience a half a dozen miracles in your life, or you might be healed a thousand times. But sooner or later, there is a day coming for every one of us when we are going to die. Everyone dies. Whether or not God graciously extends your life as he did with Hezekiah (see Isaiah 38:1-6), when you do finally die, you are only transitioning out of this life to live forever with God in the paradise of Heaven. The grave is not the end.
- Even if we don’t get healed, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, nlt).
Where does that leave us today? Jesus now is and always will be the Healer. If someone gets sick, we’re going to contend for healing for their physical body. Sometimes they will be healed, sometimes they won’t. But if you don’t get healed, or you pray for someone and they don’t receive their miracle, don’t question or doubt the love that the Father has for you.
A Final Look at Stephen’s Death:
“And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59-60).
What an amazing testimony Stephen’s life is. He didn’t cry out in prayer, saying, “Oh God, please save me, this is really bad!” He knew his time had come, so he prayed that the Lord would receive his spirit. He knelt down, and prayed a prayer very similar to the one that Jesus prayed when He hung on the Cross. Jesus had prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Here Stephen prays, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” With that, he stepped into glory to be with his precious Lord Jesus.
“When God withholds delivering power, he gives dying power.” (John Piper). Sometimes He heals and delivers us, but if He doesn’t, He will give us the grace to endure that sickness or suffering, or ultimately, to be able to die well. We don’t like to think about that, because we tend to think of death as the enemy. But death is a defeated foe, and has no more sting to the believer.
“In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three – sin, guilt, death – are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!” (1 Corinthians 15:53-55, msg).
Finally, as Pastor Dave Koop often says, “God can’t always be explained, but He can always be exalted. God can’t always be analyzed, but He can always be adored.” In other words, we don’t understand why sometimes people aren’t healed, but even though we can’t always explain God, we can exalt and worship Him. I think it would be fitting to close with these words that the Lord spoke to Moses and the children of Israel:
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
- “Why People Don’t Always Get Healed” is one of the chapters from my book: “Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today.” Contact me today if you would like a free copy of the e-book version of this study in the Book of Acts!