This discourse is written in answer to the Question:
Why are we not healed when we get sick and pray for healing?
(Caveats: This answer is by no means exhaustive, and does not cover many corollary issues such as judgment, chastisement, and obscure, scripturally destitute “will of God issues” that are often associated with illness and suffering. Nor does it address issues of suffering within Israel’s program. However, it hopefully should help you to see the major points in regards to suffering, and specifically infirmity that we can expect as we run the course of our lives, and eventually “go the way of all the earth” I Kings 2:2)
The question posed is one that many believers have asked over the centuries I am sure. It is a great question, and one that once answered scripturally can really provide a great amount of peace, thereby easing much frustration. One thing I want to point out, and make clear is that most people, both saved and lost, by nature, pray for healing. You may have heard of so called “foxhole Christianity” or “getting religion” and it is common to the lost and believers alike. When we are sick, injured, frightened, or when someone we know dies, we all as superstitious gentiles tend to pray to God, or in the case of the lost, a god, even if it is self (humanism).
Why are we not always healed, or the situation lifted? Or the pain removed? Well, we know from experience, that many times that is the case! That these things are reversed, removed, we get better, or they simply go away. When this happens as a superstitious gentile (ACTS 17:22), you would once again thank your god, gods, your luck, the fates, serendipity, whatever it is that you have in your consciousness, i.e., life experience, to attribute this happy turn of events to. Paul brought to the attention of the men on Mars Hill that they had no real truth with which to back up their beliefs. They had come to their understandings using empirical method, that is to say by a conclusion derived from aggregated knowledge assembled by the use of what is seen and experienced, and with the darkened understanding of the lost, at that (Eph 4:18)!
I would remind you that the state of the lost is, just that, lost, both in a lack of the knowledge of God, and a declared state of animosity (ROM 1:18-32). God has declared them to be an enemy. When they cry out, he does not heed their prayers. He has sent his Son to save them and only upon their belief will that enmity be abolished and their access to the Father be realized. So when we see someone lost that is perceived as being “healed” we should ask ourselves, given the state of the lost in the eyes of God, why? If they are truly enemies of God (ROM 5:10), why are they healed? Many say, by God’s mercy. Well we know what God’s mercy and grace accomplished. It was his cross work. The mercy and grace can be found there. When God condemns a lost man to Hell, it will be because he did not believe the Gospel, not because he didn’t see a number of unannounced signs that God supposedly threw into their path. There are many bizarre circumstances that occur, and I do not claim to know why and how certain things come to pass, but scripture does not point me to God as being the one responsible for them directly. If faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (ROM 10:17), scripture should clearly tell me, what to anticipate correct? The many “miracles” often times attributed to God I believe are merely something that we don’t understand medically, or simply a result of odds. As humans, with a built-in knowledge of God as described in Romans 1:20, whom we are in rebellion to by the way as clearly stated, we, in light of this of this error automatically turn our minds to a “higher power”. That is a knee jerk reaction, something that only a hardened Atheist can resist. Even then, in doing so, it shores up the fact that they (Atheists, Humanists) think themselves to be gods. But that is another discussion.
Now I will turn to the believer, and specifically in regards to prayer. Romans 8:26 says that we, ”know not what we should pray for as we ought:”. As such, we need to allow the Spirit, that is to say the scripture, tell us what we need to pray for, because as per our previous discussion we won’t come to the right conclusions on our own. Paul is telling us that we are not automatically infused with the knowledge of how to pray, or what to pray for upon salvation. In fact, Christ’s disciples asked Jesus what to pray for in Luke 1, and Jesus Christ took the opportunity to teach them in regards to the upcoming program, the “Lords Day of wrath” that the believing remnant was going to have to go through. There were specific things that he told them to pray for that would prepare them for specific occurrences that they would face, and their understanding of how God would provide for them was, upon their faithful, patient waiting on God and what he said would mean their physical salvation. The nation of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, an holy nation. All through Israel’s history, God dealt with them under the law contract, Do good, get good: do evil, get evil (LEV 26). A contract which they verbally assented to in Exodus 19:8. There began the long history of Israel’s shortfall of that covenant, and the incremental, interventive course changes made by God to correct the nation and place them where he needed them to fulfill prophecy.
Along the way you saw people healed, lifted up, anointed, even raised from the dead for many reasons, but for the overarching reason of God’s prophesied establishment of his kingdom on the earth. I will not go into specific instances as I am sure that you are familiar with many of them yourself. As God’s contention was for the Earth, and namely Zion, there were physical manifestations shown publicly, before Israel as well as the gentile nations demonstrating the coming blessings and judgments associated with that fulfilled kingdom that is indeed physical in nature. When Jesus Christ tutored his Disciples, he was giving them both a refresher course in the promises made to the Nation, but many other things that are beyond the scope of this discussion. To get a better understanding of the purpose of the Disciples Prayer (Commonly called the Lord’s Prayer) you can listen to David Busch’s study in Matthew , starting I believe with lesson 73. Through the Gospels, and into the early chapters of the book of Acts, we see the “signs of the Kingdom” being performed in Israel (note, in Israel, to whom Christ came, ROM 9:4-5, 15:8) visibly in the face of the Adversary, his Minion (MATT 8:16), and his Children (JOHN 8:44). Those that believed were given a taste of that kingdom. That healing was just that, a taste.
We know that that kingdom has not come. If you are not sure, simply look around. The prophecy of Joel, quoted by Peter to the nation, (ACTS 2:16-22) to end in the second coming of Christ and the establishment of his Kingdom, were not accepted of the nation due to their unbelief (MK 3:28-29, ACTS 7:55, ISA 3:13). What happened in fact is, instead of God pouring out his wrath, he did something un-prophesied. Paul tells us that he (Christ) is now SEATED in heaven (COL 3:1), and accomplishing something new, something that was not foretold. With the revealing of this Mystery, as the Holy Spirit calls it, we should be on our guard to see if, and if so, what, changes that God has made in his dealings with man. He has broken with prophesy, and as such we need to go to our Apostle and see how it is that God is now dealing with us as saints, and the unbelieving as well! We are being instructed on a new biblical world view. Imagine you are in an airport with an itinerary and have just made your first connection when the notice comes over the intercom that the flight plans have changed. You don’t throw your current itinerary out the window. You go to the desk to get an amended copy. Your origin and destination will be the same, but how you are going to get there just has, and you better be paying attention or you will be going the wrong way! I realize the illustration is not perfect, but hopefully you understand my meaning. Typically, we as believers have been taught improperly on what to expect, and how to view the scripture without this interruption in view, which leads us to anticipate things that are not meant for us due to the mixing of programs. The model of the prophetic program will not work for a multitude of reasons, and one of those reasons involves the issue of healing, or the lack thereof, which the Apostle Paul call, suffering.
Once again I bring you back to Romans 8:26, that tells us that we don’t know how to pray as we ought, and so, as Bereans (Acts 17:11), we should go to the scripture and we will see how it is that the Spirit makes intercession for us through the edification process of Paul’s epistles. Paul tells us plainly in Romans 8:22 that we will suffer. He indicates no way around it, but tells us that he reckoned (counted them to be so) “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us”. So he here sets a precedent, that when we encounter suffering, we are to run it through that filter first. As he reckons it to be so, so should we. He doesn’t stop there but indicates all of creation as being partakers of this suffering due to the bondage of corruption that we are all under in verse 20-22. Upon making that declaration, he brings up the fact that we are waiting for the Adoption, “the redemption of our body”. So when will we be liberated from these deaths, injuries, and infirmities? When the Adoption occurs, which is at the Rapture, when we get our new body, fit to function in the heavenly places, as a new creature, whether we be with Christ at the time, or are here and alive at His appearing (SEE 1 COR 15, I THESS 4). As for now we have the “Spirit” of adoption, or, the down payment (Earnest of the spirit II COR 1:22, 5:5). So right here we see only the reality of suffering, and no escape from it until that day comes. But Paul says in Rom 8:24-25 that we are saved by hope. And the saved he is speaking of in context is salvation from the suffering, and in doing so he says that we must “with patience wait for it”. This should remind us of Rom 5:3-5, where we are introduced to this issue of patience in tribulation. That is to say being patient as you go through it. Furthermore, it informs us that it actually works FOR us, instead of AGAINST us!
Now verse 26 is a passage that many, including myself have had misunderstandings about. The verse tells us that the Spirit (Holy Spirit) helps us with our infirmities, which I think we would all agree is definitely in the suffering category! The verse indicates that the Spirit (HS) intercedes for us when we groan (vs 23), but as not having known how to pray, we are left unable to groan intelligently, hence the groaning that cannot be uttered of verse 26. Many take the verse to read that it is the Spirit (HS) that groans to the Father in a language that we cannot understand, but I do not believe that the text supports that, and if you read closely I think you will see it as well. For an extensive dialog on this verse and the surrounding verses in chapter 8, I would refer you to David Busch’s study on the edification process that is found in the library of crbible.org entitled: Our Edification: Led of the Spirit. If the Spirit is not interceding between us and the Father directly, then how is it that he is interceding? To make it short, and you can look at the mind of Christ issue summed up at the end of I COR 2, it is the Word of God that the Spirit uses to intercede in our lives. Now let us set about to see what the Apostle Paul says about his suffering.
II Corinthians is a book written around the issue of suffering to a large degree. In CH 1:3-7 Paul say this:
2Cor 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2Cor 1:4 Who comforteth us IN all our tribulation, that (FOR THE PURPOSE OF) we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, (HOW) by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (THAT IS TO SAY HIS KNOWLEDGE)
2Cor 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound IN us, so our consolation also aboundeth BY Christ.
2Cor 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
2Cor 1:7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
You see right away that Paul and the others with him were comforted IN their tribulation, it was not taken away. They were delivered, or saved by comfort as they went through it! And you see the purpose plainly spelled out in verse 4 as well, to comfort others, by relaying to them the mind of Christ that had been given him by revelation.
Now I want to point out that Paul is speaking of suffering for the sake of Christ, and for the Gospel’s sake, the record of his sufferings being chronicled in the book of Acts, which left him physically scarred and broken. That is not to say that the gospel cannot be can be manifested as we go with patience through the tribulation that this fallen flesh goes through and glory in our infirmities, indeed that is exactly what Paul says in II COR 12.
2Cor 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2Cor 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
2Cor 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
2Cor 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2Cor 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
2Cor 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
2Cor 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
2Cor 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2Cor 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2Cor 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
So you see, it is the grace of God that sustained Paul, the grace that he teaches us throughout his Epistles, from our justification, sanctification, and to our eventual glorification with Christ in the heavenly places. And as he says, the knowledge of that left him glorying IN his infirmities! “that the power of Christ may rest upon me”
To want deliverance from an infirmity is human, to pray for deliverance is human, but Paul says that we are to go through it, so that as we do, we can bring glory to the name and cause of Christ. It is God’s plan and purpose that we fulfill the mystery of godliness (God likeness) spoken of in I Tim 3:
1Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
We are manifesting Christ in our flesh, and part of that is how we endure with patience the suffering, ailments, family member deaths, etc. that is common to man (I COR 10:13). And God has provided salvation from the effects of those things by our understanding of what he is doing and how he is doing it. There is liberty in knowing that the infirmity is not going away. It allows you to settle down, and focus on Christ and what he has done for you, and what you have access to in him, through his Word. Not to mention the frustration of trying to figure out why he won’t take it away by looking at other programs in the past and other such resources to figure out a reason for the suffering.
When we are enduring an infirmity, or any other form of suffering, we should, as Paul did run through this series of verses, and renew our minds to why we suffer, for Christ! And to his Glory!
In times past, that is, the prophetic program with the nation of Israel, God worked miracles for the sake of showing Israel as the preeminent people under the one true God. God’s chosen people, blessed with physical, tangible blessings and healing, for certain people and at certain times. Today God has changed the books. He has created a new creature, with a new, previously hidden purpose, a different set of rules to follow, and a different type of blessings. But what power, what access! The complete written Word, with all that we need to know perfectly preserved for us. The finished work of Christ and the righteousness of God accredited to our account, the grace of God freely given, an eternity promised and hoped for. Justified, Sanctified, Holy, Beloved, the list goes on and on! So many blessings! Oh that the Power of Christ might rest upon us!
Can we pray for healing? Yes. But with all of the reasons God has for us to endure the temptations of life, would it be an informed decision to do so? And what should we expect his answer to be? Perhaps he has told us already…
Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
1Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able (If you are properly prepared scripturally through the renewing of your mind); but will with the temptation also make a way to escape (i.e., the Scriptures), that ye may be able to bear it.
2Cor 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2Cor 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2Cor 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
2Cor 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me (we see Paul learning here as to the changes that were being made).
2Cor 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (Paul learned, and renewed HIS mind on it), that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2Cor 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (Not you, of yourself, but Christ’s ability to shine through).
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
In closing, I hope this has helped to answer, and not create more questions. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to visit the above mentioned links to ministry on our site, or come by and ask us in person!
2Cor 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.