When God Chooses Not to Heal

This article was originally published in the May 2013 Newsletter.

In the big scheme of things, it is a relatively small thing. It is not terminal. And while important to address, in the end there are many things of greater consequence. It is high blood pressure, and about a quarter of the population struggles with it. But right now that statistic is of little comfort to me. I am frustrated that my blood pressure is high even though I have been exercising and eating well for the past 30 days. In fact, at times the pressure has gone up in spite of my diet and daily bike rides. I’ve even prayed that God would heal me in this area, believing that he could heal me if he chooses to. He answered that prayer by revealing underlying stress that I didn’t even know I had. And, as he has shown an area that needed to be addressed, I have surrendered it to him. I feel at peace and restful, confident in his control. I am content in his love and kindness. But I still have high blood pressure. At this time, he has chosen not to heal. I also know that sometimes God heals through the use of medicine and medical care, but it is a path I would rather not go down. I would rather God would just choose to heal me.

What do we do when God chooses not to heal? What do we do when the scan shows the cancer has spread? What do we do when the wayward child refuses to come home? What do we do when the search for a job goes unnoticed or the divorce becomes final? What do we do when the answer to our prayer is “no” or “not yet”?

Thankfully we have an example in Scripture of someone who prayed earnestly for God to heal and yet never received the healing he had hoped for. His name is Paul. He is one of the key figures in church history. He planted churches across the Mediterranean region, and his letters to those churches make up the bulk of the New Testament Scriptures we have today. But in spite of all of that, he still received a “no” when he prayed for physical healing in his own life. He had some issue in his life for which he prayed multiple times for healing. But instead of healing him, God said to him, “My grace is enough, it is sufficient for you. I know you want to be healed. But I want you to find that I am more than enough for you, even when I choose not to heal.”

When God chooses not to heal, I can either focus on what I lack, or I can focus on what I have. And what I have is the presence of God living within me, filling me, overwhelming me with kindness, love, and faithfulness. When I focus on that, it is certainly enough. In fact, it is more than enough. I am humbled by his kindness. I am awed by his faithfulness. I barely have words to describe the love he has poured into my life. It is these things I chose to focus on, to rest upon when other parts of my life do not make sense.

This morning I rose early, long before the sun crested the hills, and found myself contemplating the kindness of God. He has blessed my life so abundantly. I shake my head in wonder when I consider all that he has done for me. I don’t deserve such kindness and yet he pours it into my life over and over again. It is this kindness that I chose to focus on, even as I sit here with my blood pressure much higher than it should be. It is not that I am unaware of the issues affecting my life. I just chose to embrace the love and kindness of God instead of worrying about the things I cannot change.

Consider these verses:

“ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).

“Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ ” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV).

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5, ESV).

Once again, how we deal with the challenges of life comes down to where we are in our relationship with God. Is he enough? Is his love and grace sufficient? Can you say with Paul, that even if he chooses not to heal, his grace is enough? Is he really enough?

So often we want Jesus and a nice house, or Jesus and a nice car, or Jesus and a healthy body, or Jesus and a stable family. But God wants me to learn to be content with just Jesus. If all of those things were stripped away – the house, the car, health, and home – would I be content with just Jesus? I pray that I would.

Friend, do you know the ache of unanswered prayer? Have you cried out to God only to sense that he is saying “not yet” or “not now”? Where are you in relationship with him? Can you trust him even when you cannot feel him near? Is your relationship with Jesus enough, even when he chooses not to heal?

As you are reading these words, you may be dealing with issues in life far more severe than just high blood pressure. I genuinely hurt for you. I am not trying to be trite or to minimize the pain and agony you may be feeling at this moment. I am not suggesting that you are supposed to disregard the reality of your circumstances. I am, however, asking that you bring Christ into the midst of your circumstance. He longs to cover you like a tent spread out over you. He covers us with his grace to comfort and protect. And in that moment, in spite of our trials, we find that he is, in fact, enough.

Even when he chooses not to heal.