Why Doesn't God Heal Everyone?

What Does the Bible Say About Healing?

Man in Wheelchair
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One of the names of God is Jehovah-Rapha, "the Lord who heals." In Exodus 15:26, God declares that he is the healer of his people. The passage refers specifically to healing from physical disease:

He said, "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you." (NLT)

The Bible records a considerable number of physical healing accounts in the Old Testament. Likewise, in the ministry of Jesus and his disciples, healing miracles are prominently highlighted. And throughout the ages of church history, believers have continued to testify of God's power to divinely heal the sick.

So, if God by his own nature declares himself Healer, why doesn't God heal everyone?

Why did God use Paul to heal the father of Publius who was ill with fever and dysentery, as well as many other sick people, yet not his beloved disciple Timothy who suffered from frequent stomach illnesses?

Why Doesn't God Heal Everyone?

Perhaps you are suffering from a sickness right now. You've prayed every healing Bible verse you know, and still, you're left wondering, Why won't God heal me?

Maybe you've recently lost a loved one to cancer or some other terrible disease. It's only natural to ask the question: Why does God heal some people but not others?

The quick and obvious answer to the question rests in God's sovereignty. God is in control and ultimately he knows what's best for his creations. While this is certainly true, there are several clear-cut reasons given in Scripture to further explain why God may not heal.

Biblical Reasons God May Not Heal

Now, before we dive in, I want to admit something: I don't fully understand all of the reasons God does not heal. I have struggled with my own personal "thorn in the flesh" for years. I'm referring to 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, where the Apostle Paul stated:

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (NLT)

Like Paul, I pleaded (in my case for years) for relief, for healing. Eventually, like the apostle, I resolved in my weakness to live in the sufficiency of God's grace.

During my earnest quest for answers about healing, I was fortunate to learn a few things. And so I will pass those on to you:

Unconfessed Sin

We'll cut to the chase with this first one: sometimes sickness is the result of unconfessed sin. I know, I didn't like this answer either, but it's right there in Scripture:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16, NLT)

I want to stress that sickness is not always the direct result of sin in someone's life, but pain and disease are part of this fallen, cursed world in which we currently live. We must be careful not to blame every sickness on sin, but we must also realize it is one possible reason. Thus, a good place to begin if you've come to the Lord for healing is to search your heart and confess your sins.

Lack of Faith

When Jesus healed the sick, on many occasions he made this statement: "Your faith has made you well."

In Matthew 9:20-22, Jesus healed the woman who had suffered for many years with constant bleeding:

Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."
Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed at that moment. (NLT)

Here are a few more biblical examples of healing in response to faith:

Matthew 9:28–29; Mark 2:5, Luke 17:19; Acts 3:16; James 5:14–16.

Apparently, there is an important link between faith and healing. Given the multitude of Scriptures connecting faith to healing, we must conclude that sometimes healing does not occur because of a lack of faith, or better, the pleasing kind of faith that God honors. Again, we must be careful not to assume every time someone isn't healed the reason is a lack of faith.

Failure to Ask

If we don't ask and earnestly desire to be healed, God won't answer. When Jesus saw a lame man who had been sick for 38 years he asked, "Would you like to get well?" That may seem like an odd question from Jesus, but immediately the man gave excuses: "I can't, sir," he said, "for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me." (John 5:6-7, NLT) Jesus looked into the man's heart and saw his reluctance to be healed.

Maybe you know someone who is addicted to stress or crisis. They don't know how to behave without turmoil in their life, and so they begin to orchestrate their own atmosphere of chaos. Similarly, some people may not want to be healed because they've linked their personal identity so closely with their illness. These individuals may fear the unknown aspects of life beyond their sickness, or crave the attention that the affliction provides.

James 4:2 plainly states, "You do not have, because you do not ask." (ESV)

Need for Deliverance

Scripture also indicates that some illnesses are caused by spiritual or demonic influences.

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38, NLT)

In Luke 13, Jesus healed a woman crippled by an evil spirit:

One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!" Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God! (Luke 13:10-13)

Even Paul called his thorn in the flesh a "messenger from Satan":

...even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. (2 Corinthians 12:7, NLT)

So, there are times when a demonic or spiritual cause must be addressed before healing can occur.

A Higher Purpose

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Problem of Pain: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain, it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

We may not understand it at the time, but sometimes God desires to do more than simply heal our physical bodies. Often, in his infinite wisdom, God will use physical suffering to develop our character and produce spiritual growth in us.

I've discovered, but only through looking back on my life, that God had a higher purpose for letting me struggle for years with a painful disability. Rather than healing me, God used the trial to redirect me, first, toward a desperate dependence on him, and second, to the path of purpose and destiny he had planned for my life. He knew where I would be most productive and fulfilled serving him, and he knew the path it would take to get me there.

I'm not suggesting that you ever stop praying for healing, but also ask God to show you the higher plan or better purpose he may be accomplishing through your pain.

God's Glory

Sometimes when we pray for healing, our situation goes from bad to worse. When this happens, it's possible that God is planning to do something powerful and wonderful, something that will bring even greater glory to his name.

When Lazarus died, Jesus waited to travel to Bethany because he knew he would perform an amazing miracle there, for the glory of God. Many people who witnessed the raising of Lazarus put their faith in Jesus Christ. Over and over, I've seen believers suffer terribly and even die from an illness, yet through it they pointed countless lives toward God's salvation plan.

God's Time

Pardon me if this seems blunt, but we all must die (Hebrews 9:27). And, as part of our fallen state, death is often accompanied by sickness and suffering as we leave behind our body of flesh and step into the afterlife.

So, one reason healing may not occur is that it's simply God's time to take a believer home.

In the days surrounding my research and writing of this study on healing, my mother-in-law passed away. Along with my husband and family, we watched her make her journey from earth into eternal life. Reaching the age of 90, there was a good deal of suffering in her final years, months, weeks and days. But now she is free from pain. She is healed and whole in the presence of our Savior.

Death is the ultimate healing for the believer. And, we have this wonderful promise to look forward to when we reach our final destination at home with God in heaven:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4, NLT)
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Fairchild, Mary. "Why Doesn't God Heal Everyone?" Learn Religions, Sep. 7, 2021, learnreligions.com/why-doesnt-god-heal-everyone-701958. Fairchild, Mary. (2021, September 7). Why Doesn't God Heal Everyone? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/why-doesnt-god-heal-everyone-701958 Fairchild, Mary. "Why Doesn't God Heal Everyone?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/why-doesnt-god-heal-everyone-701958 (accessed June 9, 2023).