We continue our multi-part series Blog about dispelling the myths of suffering. I want to repeat that this series targets an audience of people who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet find themselves in painful situations. I endured over 20 years bedridden for weeks and months at at time due to chronic pain and I heard many explanations as to why. Suffering, be it an illness or a difficult circumstance, effects all of us at some point in our lives. The painful circumstance is difficult enough on it's own without the disillusionment and despair that results in believing lies about suffering. This Blog series aims to dispel those lies regarding suffering.
In Part 1, I discussed the myth that suffering is a result of God punishing you. In this Part 2, I discuss the two most common myths why God doesn't heal. One, you lack faith and two, you have sin in your life.
You don’t have enough faith.
If you don’t have enough faith, then how do you muster up enough faith to produce a healing? You don't. Faith for salvation is a gift of God. (See Ephesians 2:8-9). In daily living as a Christian, faith is also a gift of God, but that faith is to be nurtured, strengthened and grows in depth. It is a lifelong process. But that growing of faith doesn’t mean that once you reach a certain level of “faith-growth”, then you will be healed. Believing that a lack of healing indicates a lack of faith produces two dangerous misconceptions. One, healing is your responsibility and two, healing is within your power. Is healing within your power? Many Christians say yes, because we just need to seek harder, believe more or we need to "claim it". This is a dangerously subtle deception. In no way, can a believer increase his own faith. You cannot produce something out of nothing. If you don’t have the faith to believe, then you can’t force yourself to have the faith. Look at the father in Mark 9. In verse 24, after bringing his demon-possessed son to Jesus, he said, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” (KJV) The father didn’t say, let me pray/ask again and more earnestly; let me seek You longer, let me take time to make my faith stronger. The father said, “Help my unbelief.” God gives the faith and He gives the growth.
You have sin in your life.
Again, this means that healing is your responsibility and within your power. This lie produces the misconception that if you would only live a more holy life then you would be healed. When someone says, “But I have confessed all my sin”, they are told “Well, then there must be unknown or unconfessed sin in your life.” So the person searches and prays and searches and agonizes, trying to evaluate every little mistake or sin they have committed. Can I tell you a secret? You will always make mistakes and have sin in your life. I am not referring to your status before God. He has made you fully righteous with the perfect righteousness of Christ--that will never change. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, you are completely forgiven and justified before God. Your position and status with God are secure because of Jesus Christ. But in the day to day living, you will make mistakes and sin. That is why the law wasn’t able to justify a person before God. No matter how hard we try or how well behaved we are, we still sin. If your healing is dependent upon your good behavior, then it is a sad story for you.
If healing indicates the absence of sin, then why is anyone ever healed? What did those people do or not do in order for God to heal them? Were they more holy or more sanctified than the rest who weren't healed? Did they read more Scripture, pray more, tithe more? Did they get angry or annoyed with people less often than you?
I can recall several times when people prayed for my healing. Instead of being healed, I left feeling empty and lived under a new cloud of condemnation. I know the people who prayed for me didn’t intend to make me feel worse, but they did. In addition to being broken, hurt and scared, now was added the heavy burden of condemnation and guilt. Christians might mean well when they talk to an ill person and try to explain why they aren’t healed. But please!!!, don't tell someone the lie that they are not healed because they don’t have enough faith or there is sin in their life! It hurts them AND it is a lie!
For years, I asked myself, “Why me?” Why was I sick? Why was God making me suffer so much? Why was He not changing my circumstances? Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong to deserve this?
On October 30, 2015, God healed me. Two and a half years later, I found myself asking again, “Why me?” Why did God heal me and not others? What had I possibly done to deserve His healing? Without a doubt, the answer is simple—NOTHING! I did absolutely nothing to receive His healing.
I share this because in reality, the answer is the same to both of my questions, “Why am I suffering?” and “Why did God heal me?” ANSWER: it’s His choice; His grace—it’s Him. He chose my suffering and He chose my healing. Both were and are independent of my faithfulness or my right and holy living. Both are by His grace and loving Sovereignty.
He chose my suffering and He chose my healing. Both were and are independent of my faithfulness or my right and holy living. Both are by His grace and loving Sovereignty.
I have a long list of the wrong choices I have made and the sins I have committed in my life. Often I was an example of what not to do. I also lost faith at times. I am not referring to believing I was no longer saved by God’s grace nor am I referring to thinking God didn't exist. What I mean by “losing” my faith is that I didn’t always remain faithful to Christ. I turned away from Him. I refused His help and His guidance. I even went through a period of time when I threw a “spiritual” temper tantrum like a two-year-old and did whatever I wanted, even when I knew it was against Scripture and against His best for me. I went through dark periods of depression and doubts. I wondered about God’s character (was He really good; did He really love me?). I gave up, many times, the hope that my life would ever be different. I gave up hope many times that I would ever see healthy days again or that my dreams would ever come to pass.
In short, my life shatters the two explanations that God doesn’t heal because we lack faith or because we have sin in our life. I have definitely lacked the faith for God to heal me and I definitely sin. My healing is 100% the Sovereign choice of God.
I have definitely lacked the faith for God to heal me and I definitely sin. My healing is 100% the Sovereign choice of God.
I cannot promise God will heal you this side of eternity. But I can promise you that He loves you immensely. He longs to comfort you. He earnestly desires to strengthen and encourage you and give you a certain hope. Not only does His Word promise this, but I have also personally experienced these things in the darkest of times. The abyss of suffering was very deep at times, but His loving, strengthening hand was ever present. There were times I thought He had forgotten or forsaken me. The darkness was so dark! In hindsight, I realize He was there every second, every step of the way. He was guiding, encouraging, strengthening, sustaining; not because I was a great Christian but because He is a loving, gracious Father. It is about Him. It always has been and it always will be.
I encourage you to keep asking God that He will heal you or free you from whatever painful circumstance in which you find yourself. Of course, it is not wrong to ask. But release yourself from the condemnation and guilt that it is your fault when He doesn’t heal or deliver you. Instead, seek His help and strength to help you through the pain.