Faith in God is often correlated with miraculous healings, and there are many scriptural and current day examples of such healings. Science, even, acknowledges that faith can play a role in the healing process. When sickness, injury, or turmoil occurs, many people petition God in prayer, believing that He has the power to make them whole. However, for many people, as the sickness, pain, or inner turmoil drags on, there seems to be no miraculous healing, and no good result from the efforts and hopes put forth in faith.
In today’s world, we often wonder where the scriptural miracles are. We often wonder why the blind are not blessed to see, the deaf are not blessed to hear, and the lame are not made to walk, as they were in Jesus’ time. Although we hear of some miracles in today’s time, we do not see them coming in the same way or to the same degree or magnitude as in Jesus’ time. This can cause us to question the reality of scriptural accounts, of religion, of faith, and of God.
In addition, we hear of stories in our times where people are suddenly cured from cancer, where they miraculously survived a car accident unscathed, or where their neighbor, Bishop, or friend showed up at just the right time – when they needed them most. However, for many who hear of these stories, their cancer may be getting worse, they may have lost a relative in a car accident, or no one showed up at the moment the person really needed them, or ever really showed up at all, for that matter. God, faith, and religion, just do not seem to work in the lives of many – many who exercised faith, but who were left alone and suffering still.
Why is it that faith can be miraculously responded to or, it seems at times, simply ignored? Why does the pain persist, the problems continue, and the loneliness deepen, even after believing and doing everything that can be done? Does God love others more than me? These are questions that tend to spin through the minds of those who pray in faith, yet still are left without.
I have been on both sides of things. I have had times when I was miraculously healed or my life was miraculously preserved. I have also had times where I have prayed and prayed for help or healing, and only felt the loneliness of silence from Heaven and the continued pain from the problems at hand. While I don’t know the answers to all of the questions surrounding these issues, I have learned a few things that have been helpful to me.
1. It often takes more faith to NOT be healed than it takes to be healed.
Being healed of something, quickly, takes believing in the fact that God has all power and can immediately influence what is wrong. This faith is a quick faith, one that expires with the healing and loss of pain, meaning that it does not often add much to one’s character, provide direction through hard times, or offer a spiritual food of long-term sustenance. It is like an ice cream cone given to a child, quickly eaten in happiness, but often forgotten the next day, with a request for even more ice cream then and each day after.
Not being healed, however, requires a very different type of faith. For those who are not healed, they still are faced with believing that God has all power, but that He is not exercising it for some reason. Because of this, they have to develop faith in a host of other things in addition to God’s power.
For example, those not healed have to develop faith that God still loves them, even though they are being allowed to suffer. They have to develop faith that God must know something that they don’t, that God has a bigger plan in mind. They have to develop faith that there is purpose in suffering. They have to develop faith in themselves that they are capable of surviving or enduring through the hardship. They have to develop faith, ultimately, that a loving God and suffering can co-exist together.
2. God has more in mind than we do.
God understands us, but we believe that we understand us too. We often think there are things that would make life better, whether it be health, friends, money, etc. Yet, God doesn’t give us these things, despite our faith. In addition, we want to relish in today, to be happy, free of pain, and enjoying life.
God knows what we need to become a better being eternally. God wants us to enjoy today, but never at the cost of eternity. God cares more about the eternal nature of our soul than He does about the physical pleasures and blessings of this world. God will withhold things that we petition for when He knows it is not what we need, and will, in kindness, withhold our petitions when we ask for things that may do us more harm than good in the eternities.
3. Our purpose in life is not to avoid pain and trials. It is to become like God.
Our physical existence often encourages us to work hard to avoid pain and suffering. However, our physical existence also readily shows us the weakness that comes as we avoid exertions and labor and our muscles and body weakens. We understand that exercise, or exertions, develop strength and power, but we pray in faith, hoping that we can avoid all such exertions at the spiritual level.
As part of our test on this earth, we will be faced with decisions where we get to see and determine what we want. Do we want to live easy and free of pain, or learn to pass through that which is required for ‘right’ to prevail? For God, His passage on this earth meant the most suffering ever known to any being as He atoned for us. For God, the status of ‘God’ means willingly traversing any suffering required, rather than avoiding suffering at all costs. If God were like us, He would have avoided the suffering and pain associated with the atonement, rather than submit, even though He possessed the full power to stop his own suffering at any time.
The only way for us to truly become like God is to develop faith in a bigger picture of existence. We have to learn that life is not just about us as individuals, it is about us as a human family. Eternal life comes as we learn to live for and serve others, and we can only develop that outlook when we can learn to see past the walls of our own existence.
Suffering ultimately helps us to develop faith in the fact that meaning and purpose is found outside of our own existence, a critical aspect in our pursuit of becoming like God. God chose to endure suffering for us, and our times of enduring something allows us to shape our inner selves into more Godlike selves, focusing more on others than on our own sufferings. In other words, our suffering helps us to see more of the world than we would otherwise see, which helps us develop a view from God’s perspective on life.
4. Trials are hills in life. They take us to new heights or depths, depending on our faith.
God is way above me. His ways, His life, His existence, is far above mine. If I take a path of no resistance, I will never reach the heights He has achieved. For me to follow in His footsteps, I need hills and mountains to climb to reach where He is located.
Our times of no healing are like hills and mountains. Of course, like any hill or mountain, these times can take us up or down. The same path that takes us up is the same path that can take us down, as the only way for something to have a path up is for it to have a path down as well. It just depends on the way we choose to travel. Thus, stumbling blocks for some can be stepping stones for others, just as times of no healing can greatly strengthen faith for some or can diminish or damage it significantly for others.
For times when we are not healed, we have to remember that we are now on an incline, and our faith becomes ever more essential to carry us up the incline closer to where God is. If the darkness is closing in, we may need to reach out in faith to others for help to continue climbing up the path together or otherwise work to reverse our course on the incline we are on. Ultimately, we have to ensure that even though we have not been healed, despite our faith, that our faith keeps us point towards God, so that we always move up, rather than down, the path of trial.
5. Healing can come through increased understanding.
Oftentimes, we plead for healing by pleading for the problem to disappear or be removed. Healing, to us, frequently means removal of pain. However, our real problems often run far deeper than our physical body, and some of the most extensive pain can be associated with questions of “Why?” or of not understanding where God is during the hard times.
When people can, for example, develop the right outlook on exercise, exercise can become rewarding, even in spite of some pain associated with it. For us, it is the same. As we pray in faith, for example, for healing from cancer, but the cancer continues, it can be useful to pray for understanding, to pray, in faith, for eyes to see what God sees, to understand what God understands about the situation.
As we obtain insights into ourselves, our situation, and others around us, we can find real healing, a deeper healing that surpasses the physical condition we are enduring at the time. Our souls long for understanding, and praying for knowledge and understanding can be a route to a more complete healing than simply praying for the physical ailment to disappear. When no healing comes, God is often willing to give us understanding about certain things, we just have to be willing to be open to receive the information.
6. True faith is about changing our own circumstances, about creating something new.
Ultimately, to pass our test on Earth and become like God, we have to develop the ability to create, to use our faith to develop and produce something that did not exist before. At some point, we have to be left on our own, so to speak, in a place where we cannot feel or see God, but where we feel may need Him or His miracles. These are our places that define us, that allow us to develop a critical type of faith – a faith that brings the power to create.
I know people who have lost hands, loved ones, eyesight, internal strength, and hearing. I know people who carry burdens of depression, anxiety, mental illness, and other issues. Amazingly, I see many of them take what they have left, and begin to create beauty and opportunity around them. Creation is a slow process, however, and so patience, endurance, fortitude, and a whole host of other wonderful traits come to the individuals as a result of this process as these individuals endure through their physical shortcomings.
Our times of not being healed leave us with a choice that will ripple through eternity – do we simply accept our fate and give up, or do we take the things we still have and create something with it? God wants us all to be creators like Him. God took His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as He atoned for us and created something beautiful as He allowed us to repent and be forgiven. He took His suffering and death on the cross and created new life, new life for all of us. God, ultimately, takes all bad, and turns it into something beautiful and good. Amazingly, He gives us the opportunity and chance to do the same.
If God always healed us, or always gave us everything we wanted, we would never learn to create, and thus would never become like Him. In order for us to grow, develop, and progress, we have to learn how to shape our situations, determine our destiny, and move forward in faith to create a way or path that may not have existed before. This isn’t, of course, a path to get to Heaven, as Christ is the only one who can create that path, but rather is a path through life, through our time on this earth.
While God provides a way to Heaven, He does not provide a way through this life. We each get to determine and shape our path through this life. There will be miracles as we work and strive to get places, but there will never be enough miracles to make it so that we didn’t expend our own efforts in this life. In other words, the times of not being healed may need to last long enough to enable us to be agents unto ourselves, choosing our path and what we want in this life, and creating beauty and goodness along the way, no matter the depths of darkness reached.
Our brokenness serves to open us up to the power of our faith and will. If we are completely whole and always have the necessities of life, we would be able to rely on our body to accomplish things. However, if we are sick, broken, afflicted, or lacking a necessity of life, then our creativity, efforts, and faith have to kick in to survive, or, to say it another way, our soul has to take control for us to make it through. In other words, our weaknesses lead to giving us more strengths overall, strengths of the soul that bring us closer to God.
7. God loves us.
God truly loves us, even when we don’t feel it or feel alone. He allows us to become the master of our destiny by allowing us to be in places and situations where are bodies are broken so that we can develop the traits necessary to be like Him. God’s love causes Him to balance the interests of today against those of eternity, and to ensure the optimal conditions for our eternal progression.
Remember, it takes more faith to not be healed than it takes to be healed. If you have not been healed even after exercising faith, please recognize that God knows your level of faith, and that your broken or sick state may be due to a development of a greater form of eternal faith inside you – a faith that will develop into knowledge that God loves you regardless of where you find yourself, a faith that you are a child of God, a faith that gives you the power to create, shape, and change your circumstances, and a faith that you are part of something much bigger than yourself.
Due to the many facets of faith that can be developed through not being healed, God will not heal us in some way or another as we go through this life. Our faith has to transcend the ability to be healed to embrace a deeper, more expansive, and more sustaining faith – a faith that allows us to return to God. As we still work to develop true faith inside of us, a faith not dependent on our physical state, but one that feeds our eternal state of being, we may learn that we don’t need healing to succeed or enjoy life. Rather, our times of not being healed may end up being the times that brought our true self to the surface, and the times that most define us on our path back to God.