Why won’t God heal my child?
(First posted on http://irresistiblechurch.org/god-part-4-4/)
One of my greatest joys as a disability ministry pastor and church consultant is when I get the opportunity to work with other churches as they grow their disability ministry. On one consulting call, I spoke with a volunteer who started the ministry at her church because of her daughter who has a disability.
The call was pleasant as we discussed strategies that she could try at her church. As we were wrapping up our conversation she anxiously asked if I had time for one more question – I sensed that our pleasant conversation was about to take a different tone. She asked me what my beliefs were about healing, particularly healing her daughter’s disability. I shared that I believe God is able to heal anyone He chooses to heal, but I didn’t know what God’s will was for her daughter; if it is His will that she be healed God would do that in His timing.
That was not the answer she wanted to hear. She spent the next twenty minutes screaming at me through the phone telling me that I was wrong – that God wants to heal every person of their disabilities and that He would heal her daughter, something she prayed for every day.
I tried to reassure her that her persistent prayer was good – Scripture is clear that we should pray without ceasing. I also tried to tell her that Scripture teaches us to pray that God’s will be done, and not necessarily our will. This can be tough because our will and God’s will don’t always align.
Paul gives us encouragement in Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Notice it doesn’t promise that God will answer our prayers the way that we want. It simply says that God will guard our hearts and minds – He wants to offer us protection from our angst.
If not healing for our children or ourselves, what does God will? God’s will for us is obedience to Him. God wants us to trust and obey Him. He wants us to understand that He is enough for us, that His power shines through our perceived weakness.
Therefore, if He does not will that our loved one or ourselves are healed in this life He still has purpose for us.
Before this passionate volunteer hung up on me, I tried to help her consider Jesus’ perspective in the classic “through the roof story” (Luke 5, Matthew 9, Mark 2). Jesus did not pity the man with the disability who was lowered down on the mat. Jesus didn’t even acknowledge the man’s disability. He did not define the man by his disability; He was concerned with the man’s heart. Jesus healed the man of his true disability, sin, by forgiving him. It wasn’t until after the religious leaders started complaining that Jesus healed his physical disability too. Notice that it wasn’t primarily for the benefit of the man with the physical disability that Jesus performed this miracle. It was for the benefit of the others in the room. I tried to share with this mother that perhaps Jesus has a bigger plan – He wants to heal her daughter’s heart. She unfortunately couldn’t hear that possibility.
The truth is, even if God willed for all disability to be healed in this lifetime it would only be temporary. We would still eventually get sick and die. Sorry to be a downer.
Disability, on some level, is something that everyone will likely experience in this. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world. It is a minority group that crosses all races, religions, gender, and demographics. It is also the only minority group with open enrollment. Any of us can join this minority group at any moment in our lives, and most of us will join it as we age.
Reality check: our perspective is often different than God’s. His primary concern is the heart because that is what determines whether or not we spend eternity with God after death.
May we place our hope in true, lasting healing – and in the meantime, trust in God’s sovereignty.