Q: Why doesn't God heal everyone?
A: This question has perplexed God-honoring, praying, trusting, and believing folks since the Garden Fall. You've heard all of the stock responses just as I have: "You don't have enough faith." Or, "You didn't use the right words in your prayer." Or, "You must have sin in your life." These responses sound like an advertisement for the mystery religions of biblical times. Adherents claimed that they had secret knowledge to the right prayer formula that assured positive results every time. Christians should never fall for that lie. The assumption of all such responses can easily imply faith in our own faith or faith in our own prayers. Both misplace faith.
Our faith and trust must always and only be in God.
Prayer is two-way communication with God that flows from a deep, personal relationship with Him. Through prayer we request of God and thank Him for His incredible providence toward us. However, we must never assume that if we get our words just right or ask with enough feeling we obligate God to grant our request for healing. Such thinking imagines God as a celestial soda machine: deposit our coins of prayer and God has no choice but to grant our request.
The Bible urges us to unburden our hearts to God and trust him for divine intervention.
What's more, the Bible offers many examples of God answering prayers in miraculous ways. But not every prayer recorded in the Bible received the hoped for response.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul relates his experience of praying in vain for what many biblical scholars believe was a physical ailment. Paul begged God repeatedly for a desired outcome that never materialized. God's response to Paul's request? "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (v. 9). Paul's response back to God? "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (v. 9).
Physical, emotional, and mental sickness, disease, and pain mark the human condition since the Garden Fall. They will continue to have their effect on people, even believers, for as long as they live this side of eternity. Sometimes God miraculously heals our malady, and sometimes He doesn't. We humans will never fully know the mind of God, so we can't answer the "Why?" question adequately. He is Creator; we are His creatures.
My personal response to unanswered prayers comes from the wisdom of Job, "yet will I hope in Him" (Job 13:15). You see, ultimately we do not find our hope in answered prayer, we find our hope in God alone.
Frank Moore is the director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Olivet Nazarene University and grandfather of a three-year-old girl, who died October 20, 2011, from a malignant brain tumor. He is also editor in chief for Holiness Today.