Some argue we don’t have enough faith if God does not heal us of sickness. Is this a proper belief? I will argue it is not. I do believe faith is needed and we should observe God’s law as best we can. But the Bible makes it clear that great faith and keeping God’s law will not guarantee healing from sickness. In the end, it is up to God whether or not we get healed.
The reason there is confusion on this subject is because of certain scriptures like Matthew 21:18-22. Is it true we can receive whatever we ask for in prayer if we have faith, do not doubt, and believe? One thing we need to remember is not to use one scripture to understand a topic. We need to look at other scriptures that address similar subjects in order to come to a more balanced understanding.
Another scripture that has some bearing on this discussion is James 5:13-16. Here again, it seems to say that praying with faith for a sick person will make him well. We need to be careful in what we see in these scriptures. Does it say all people will be made well if they pray and have faith? Perhaps we begin to get a better understanding by looking to the previous chapter of the book of James. In James 4:13-16, we read about being careful about our certainty of things. These scriptures caution us about thinking we know what will happen tomorrow. It also makes the important statement, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.” If we extrapolate this principle to James 5:14-15, we would understand the passage to mean that the sick will be made well if it is God’s will. So what is it, tremendous faith or God’s will, that makes the sick well? Read on for a clearer picture.
In Matthew 6:10, we read, “your [God’s] will be done.” In Matthew 6, Jesus provides an outline on how we should pray, and in this He tells us it is important to pray for things within God’s will. In other words, God is not going to allow your prayer to be answered if you pray for things that go against God’s will. Notice that, in Matthew 26:39, it appears Jesus does not want to suffer, but He realizes He must submit to the will of His Father. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, 1 John 5:14-15 addresses this subject most succinctly by telling us we can get what we ask for from God if we are asking for things that fit with God’s will. Now some might argue why would it not be God’s will to heal all the sick? That’s a good question, and let’s try to answer that.
We need to remember that God’s solution to the ills of this world is to bring us into His Kingdom. The Bible also makes it clear that all humans are subject to death, after which we await a resurrection. But why would God not allow all people to live into old age? Again, this is a complex issue, but part of the answer is some of our sinful practices can lead to our demise (smoking, drinking, sexual activity); there are consequences for sin. Another answer is going through difficult things can lead to breakthroughs for ourselves and others we impact. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, we learn difficulties can make us better. Many individuals have been inspired by family members and friends who are suffering from terrible diseases. In some cases the inspiration has changed the lives of those who were sick and those who know the sick in positive ways.
But if this is not enough evidence for you, we should look at examples of some of the most faithful people in the Bible to see if they all were made well from sickness. We cannot argue that Paul was as faithful a believer as anyone. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we read Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was not healed by God. In fact, Paul’s weakness made him stronger in a spiritual sense. Another example is Timothy. We read in 1 Timothy 5:23 that Timothy suffered from frequent illnesses. Sickness is part of life, and great lessons can come from having these experiences. Even those who are praying for the sick and visiting them are learning great lessons about love that would be difficult to learn in any other way.
Finally, we should mention that some were healed in the Bible without faith. In Philippians 2:25-27, God’s mercy (will of God) was what helped the man who was sick. Another example is in Acts 3:1-8. This healing had to be due to God’s will rather than this man’s faith. We see here the man who was healed was not expecting to be healed. We do need to have faith and continue to work to develop more faith. But, in the end, healing will come if it is in God’s will to allow it.