Moving Beyond Debate: Is It God’s Will To Heal All The Time?

Is it God’s will to heal all the time?

For most of my life as a born-again believer, my answer was always a resounding “NO!”

In fact, even as a little girl growing up in a Christian household, I believed that God, in His sovereign will, chose to heal some and not others.

This was life as I observed it.

This was my experience…

Same individuals would pray for two different people to be healed. One would get healed and the other would not.

The obvious conclusion: “All is as God wills it.”

Subsequently, the only prayers for healing I ever heard were, “God, if it is your will, heal this man/woman/child. Have mercy on him/her.”

This was also the belief of every Christian believer around me, and I never questioned it.

This entire issue (of God’s choosing to heal) struck close to home.

Very close.

My very own baby brother was diagnosed with CP (cerebral palsy) at 11 months of age.

I was six and a half years old when I met my third baby brother. We named him David, after the famous king David of the Bible, of course.

He was a very beautiful but fussy baby. Fussy is actually too weak a word. He cried, no, wailed and screamed all the time it seemed…

As an oldest child, I had an added responsibility to help take care of David.

I remember many times feeling like I hated him, because he would just never keep quiet!

I would try to rock him to oblivion, hoping for my chance to get out and play… if only he would fall asleep…

In one very vivid memory, the front wheels of his stroller went off the third steps of the house entrance, and the stroller went rolling over several times – with my baby brother in it.

At least he stopped crying, I thought.

I was horrified, feeling like he deserved it (for keeping me away from playing outside), and at the same time feeling guilty for feeling this way.

The guilt was profoundly intensified when one of my aunts said, “It’s all your fault. You dropped David so many times, you injured him.”

Then I remember frequent trips my mom would make, taking David to see different specialists.

Here I am holding my baby brother David, with two other brothers on each side

This was before our move to the US…

In the US, David suffered through several grand-mal seizures, side effects of anti-seizure medications, and multiple surgeries which only helped a little.

Did my parents pray for David’s healing?

Of course they did!

The story is that when David was still a baby, they asked the elders of the church to come and pray over him, as written in James 5:14.

During prayer, my mom was the one who got completely, radically and supernaturally healed from her chronic heart condition – symptomatic mitral valve prolapse. (Her healing was medically verified by a well-known cardiologist from Moscow).

David, however, was not healed.

And so, the belief that God only heals sometimes (not all the time) and only according to His will, was reinforced further…

And there was another problem.

It certainly didn’t seem like a real problem to me then, but it became a real one when I became older.

As a little girl I learned a famous children’s poem, reciting it a few times in church and many times at home. (The poem is in Russian)

Дети! Все должны вы знать:
Кто не слушается Бога
И капризничает много,
Бог положит на кровать, —
Будешь долго там лежать.
Перестанешь тогда «якать»,
Будешь к Богу горько плакать:
«Боже, встать мне разреши».
А Бог скажет: «Полежи.
Ты сестренку обижал,
Маму с папой раздражал,
Я тебя простил, ты снова
Говорил плохое слово!»
Дети! Все должны мы знать:
Кто не слушается Бога
И капризничает много,
Бог положит на кровать, —
Будешь долго там лежать!

The meaning of this poem goes something like this:

Children, all of you should know:
Those of you who don’t listen to God,
And those of you who whine a lot,
Will be confined to a bed, made sick by God.
You will lay there for a long time!
Then you will stop being so selfish,
Saying “I” all the time…
You will be desperately crying out to God,
“O God, please, let me get up from this bed!”
But God will instead say,
“Lay there a bit more.
You were mean to your sister,
You were irritating your mom and dad.
I forgave you, but you kept saying bad words.”
(Here the first five lines repeat).

Do you see the correlation here? Do you see a big problem here?

In our theology, a loving God willed or caused sickness to happen as a form of discipline.

Then the same loving God, would either heal or not heal someone when we pray for healing.

If sickness/disease is caused (allowed) by God for the purpose of discipline, why would He discipline/punish an innocent baby? For what sin?

On a side note, I completely understand the Calvinistic argument to this question.

“God, if it’s your will, I beg you, please, heal my child.”

God: “I’m not willing.”

Child not healed from CP…

Instead the woman praying for her child gets radically healed from a chronic heart condition.

True story, by the way.

I heard someone equate this scenario to the  gladiator games in ancient Rome, where Nero would either put his thumb up – “Life,” or down – “Death.”

Is that the fully revealed God of the Bible?

Is that your loving Father?

“Well, God’s ways are not our ways and His ways are mysterious,” you would say.

“Everything works out for the good of those who believe, including sickness and death.”

I heard these explanations so many times…

I have used them as many times myself…

Even after my faith crisis that was largely brought on by this exact problem: How does a loving God cause (“allow” is the same thing) sickness to happen to an innocent child? How does the same perfectly loving and perfectly just God, the one who shows no partiality (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11) choose to heal one and not another? James 2:9 states that showing partiality is sin.

Are we calling God a hypocrite then?

Is there a double standard here?

Yes, even as I went through a faith crisis as a college student, wrestling with some of these questions, I put these particular questions aside, tucking them far, far away.

However, my subsequent journey as a believer would turn out to be a trip of ups and downs, the said downs largely being caused by unresolved questions about God’s goodness and lack of intimacy with Him as a Father.

Can a child have a close relationship with her father who routinely inflicts physical pain and punishes her at any/every known wrong?

A type of a father that is emotionally distant… One that only makes his presence known when you make a mistake… A father that doesn’t even acknowledge when you do good or you would become prideful…

That was my view of God… Throughout childhood and throughout most of my life as an adult Christian believer.

Unfortunately, that same view is instilled into many children in Christian communities, from a very young age.

Remember the very popular, seemingly innocent children’s poem I learned as a child?

Don’t get me wrong.

I loved Jesus.

In a sense, I even felt like Jesus was very different from God the Father.

I began to see God the Father as the God of the Old Testament, and Jesus as the God of the New Testament.

Do we have two Gods then?

Or do we believe in a bipolar God?

Didn’t Jesus say, “I and the Father are one?”

I have no idea how, but subconsciously I decided to ignore the troubling questions.

After all, by this time, a few months had passed since my big faith crisis, and I was way past the debate of whether God is real.

In some way, I hoped to get many answers on the other side of this life, I guess.

Filled with compassion for the human suffering, I chose the medical field, falling in love with nursing.

How could I, a human being, be so full of love and compassion for the sick, desiring to get each patient well, while a loving, supernatural God just didn’t will for someone to be healed?

Only recently I was confronted with a deep conviction of the Holy Spirit: In my sincere but erroneous belief and view of who God was, I was actually stating to him, “I can do better than You.”

“Since you choose to sit out and not help people, this is what I can do with prescribed treatments, drugs, and my limited knowledge of the human body.”

I mean, there I was, finding myself in a strange conundrum of opposing beliefs.

A passionate believer in Jesus who believed everything written about Him in the New Testament.

Jesus who healed the sick.

Jesus who cast out demons.

Jesus who raised the dead.

But somehow, in the end, God the Father may or may not will to heal a young mother of four kids from cancer?

Forget about nonbelievers, right?

In my twisted theology, I actually believed that maybe God doesn’t want to heal a 36-year-old man from end stage lung cancer because this is punishment for his sins.

What about those who are believers in Jesus? Are they not God’s children? Are they not covered by the blood of Jesus?

A mother of four was dying from cancer on my unit. She and her family were all believers. Her husband adamantly believed that she would get healed.

“God healed her six years ago after doctors told her she has six months or less to live. For the last six years she traveled to different churches, sharing her testimony. God is going to heal her again.”

Despite many discussions with the patient’s husband about benefits (0) vs risks (many) of full resuscitation efforts on a patient whose cancer spread literally all over her body, he would not change her code status from a “Full Code” to “DNR (Do Not Resuscitate),” meaning that he wanted us to implement full life-saving measures in case her heart or lungs gave up.

Fearing the repercussions of what this would do the patient (cracked/broken ribs, placed on ventilator, etc), and the trauma of seeing this take place in case her young kids happen to be there, I posed the following to her husband: “I understand that you believe God will heal her. I also believe that God can do anything. I mean, He can raise the dead to life! If you believe that this disease is not unto death, then would it really matter if you change her code status? Even if she dies, God can raise her.”

I sincerely believed what I was saying to him. And yet, I didn’t believe that God would actually do this, based on the medical knowledge I had…

After I left home, the husband told the doctors he is ok with changing his wife’s code status to “DNR.” She died later that day…

Several years ago, Kara Tippetts, a young mother of four died from cancer. She wasn’t anyone I knew personally. She wasn’t even my patient.

I followed her journey on her personal blog.

Many days and nights I earnestly prayed for God to heal her. I also knew that many others in the Christian community prayed for her healing as well.

One day I logged onto Facebook and saw the post called “Homecoming,” which broke the news of Kara’s death.

I remember running outside, in my heart screaming, “Why, God? Why her? Why would you take her? Why wouldn’t you heal her? Why would you leave all of her young children without a mother to raise them? Why would you allow her husband to go through such grief?”

Thy will be done… On earth as it is in heaven…

Is this God’s will in heaven?

Does heaven have sickness?

Something changed in me that day…

Don’t try to interpret the Bible in light of your experience. Instead make your experience fit the Bible…

I was still a long way away from where I am today on the issue of “Is It God’s Will To Heal All The Time,” but the Holy Spirit was taking me on a journey of a thousand lessons.

Most recently, another well-known believer in the Christian community was diagnosed with end-stage stomach cancer.

Nabeel Qureshi is a name I became familiar with back in 2004, shortly after he published his first book “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.”

I was simply browsing through the shelves of a local Christian store, and my gaze fell upon Nabeel’s book. Because of my previous interest in Islam and my desire to witness to Muslims, I knew I had to buy this book.

His story is nothing short of amazing. (Get a copy and read it – you won’t regret it!)

Some time later, I discovered RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) specializing in apologetics. I found out that Nabeel Qureshi was on the panel of RZIM, contending for the gospel, with a valuable knowledge base of Islam!

Last August (2016), Nabeel broke the news of his diagnosis on his Facebook page. Since then I followed his posts on and off.

The “off” times were when I would get discouraged after not seeing any change after many (probably thousands) believers praying for him to be healed.

The Lord knows the extent of how so many of Nabeel’s posts played a tremendous role in my own journey of the search for truth in regards to the issue of healing.

As of now, Nabeel is fighting for healing. And with him in this fight is a huge community of believers who hold different positions on God’s will for healing.

There are those who believe (based on the Bible) that it is God’s will to heal all the time and that Nabeel will not die. They authoritatively command, “Cancer, be gone from Nabeel’s body.” Or something to that effect.

There are also those who sincerely believe (also based on the Bible) that Nabeel may be the equivalent of righteous Job, who didn’t do anything wrong but went through tremendous pain and suffering. These believers may pray something like, “Father, if it is your will, heal Nabeel for your glory.”

And there may be those believers who may not even pray for Nabeel’s healing. Why pray if God’s will will prevail regardless, right?

The obvious irony that stands out is this: The same people who staunchly believe that everything that happens is as God wills it, take their sick children to see the doctor.

The same people who believe that God only wills to heal some and not all, will go to great lengths to see specialists, naturopaths, chiropractors, doctors, surgeons – anyone that can help them or their children get well.

Let me ask you this: What about those people who don’t have access to modern medicine? Those who happen to live in third world countries? What should they believe? Whom should they put their hope in?

I implore you, please, do not get the wild idea that I’m against western medicine.

Just so we are crystal clear on this: I am not.

I believe that the Bible clearly revealed to us God’s will on healing. Further, I want to keep sharing with you about the long and tumultuous journey of internal doubts I went through this amazing journey.

Well, this turned out to be one long post…

You may now understand the magnitude of what I was going through since the last post back in April.

At least I hope that some of you do…

The good news is: I am way past debate on this issue!

Based on the Bible alone, I believe it is God’s will to heal all the time.

In the following post, I intend to write on Biblical basis for healing.

I am sure many of you are disagreeing with me. I am also sure that many are going through a myriad of reasons for why you believe it’s not God’s will to heal all the time.

I understand…

It would help if you would comment on your own objections to this belief… If you are willing, of course.

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6 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Debate: Is It God’s Will To Heal All The Time?

  1. Hi, Tanya, can relate to so many of your thoughts on this topic.
    I’m sorry for being synical and feel free to delete my post, but I don’t think it really matters whether it’s God’s will to heal all the time or not. There are good people who don’t get healed and bad people who miraculously recover, people with strong faith who can’t beat cancer and those of little or no faith who somehow do. Even if it’s God’s will to heal all the time – we don’t know what it takes to make God answer our prayers. why some are healed just after one prayer and others pray for years, refuse medical treatment and forgo all conventional wisdom because of faith in God, and yet not always get the healing they put so much faith in
    I don’t think aknowledging God’s will to always heal makes any difference in prayer outcomes

    1. Hi Luda,
      First of all, I would never delete a comment even if I disagree with it (as long as it is appropriate to the topic at hand and does not have any profane language). I really do appreciate your input.

      My own conviction is that we can know God’s will in reagrads to healing based on the Bible. I certainly understand your own take on this, strictly based from what we are observing from our own experiences. However, if we base our beliefs/views strictly from our experiences, we can get to some very strange places (doctrines, beliefs).

  2. Hi Tanya

    A very moving account. It is very difficult when loved ones and other people go through sickness.

    Perhaps we can help each other.
    In your post you said
    {Subsequently, the only prayers for healing I ever heard were, “God, if it is your will, heal this man/woman/child. Have mercy on him/her.”}

    Is there anything wrong with that type of prayer? When Jesus was about to be crucified He prayed that it will be according to the will of the Father God and not his carnal self. He bled blood even before the actual crucifiction. That means we should always pray and ask for the will of God first and most important. Not so? If yes, then awesome. If no, then there is a problem with how you see scripture. I believe it will be yes.

    Since you are in the medical field, what is your opinion about vaccines? You probably know better than I do. I heard some peole say vaccines are dangerous and others say it is wonderful. This ties into your post because if it is dangerous it explains a lot of sickness and if not then it helps us. I am not in medicine, therefore I ask your opinion on whatever level you are. Did you and will you vaccinate kids again?

    I am not too sure what I believe on this. Concerning your last paragraph. You said {Based on the Bible alone, I believe it is God’s will to heal all the time.} Could you please give more verses supporting what you say. As far as I know it was all in the hand of our Maker to decide and with good reason. Does Father God want to heal? Yes. Is it for every single person on the planet? That would depend on first of all Gods will which we submit to and secondly if the person real/true.

    1. Hi Ian,

      To your point on Jesus praying to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane: this has nothing to do with God’s will on healing the sick. This was an internal anguish Jesus was going through, knowing that he will literally become sin. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

      John Piper says it well, “In this familiar garden of prayer, Jesus looked deeply into the Father’s Cup he was about to drink and was terrified. Everything in his human flesh wanted to flee the impending physical torture of crucifixion. And his Holy Spirit groaned with ineffable dread at the far greater impending spiritual torture of being forsaken by his Father.

      Such was his distress over this “baptism” (Luke 12:50), the very thing he had come into the world to accomplish (John 12:27), that Jesus cried out, “Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).”

      I believe that God’s will for healing has been revealed to us through Jesus. Think about Jesus’ ministry of healing the sick. He healed everyone who came to him for healing, never turning anyone away. Jesus was always a “visible image of an invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” As I wrote in the post, I will address in detail the biblical basis for healing and why I do believe that it is God’s will to heal all the time. Having this confidence (in knowing exactly what God’s will is on this issue) is a wonderful thing! There is more doubt than faith when you don’t know if what you are asking is really God’s will vs knowing that what you are asking your Father to do has already been clearly stated in the Bible as His will…

      About the vaccine question. I did write a post about vaccines in the past, addressing this issue:

      Hope that this answers your questions.


  3. Thank you for writing this, as I have struggled with the same questions! And still to this day, I am not sure why some precious people still die when God wills to heal every time. We recently lost an uncle who we BELIEVED whole heartedly would wake up and walk away from the brain aneurysm, but he dies 2 weeks later. We believed a relative, wife and mother of 4 small children, would be healed from cancer, but she died and left that enormous grief for us to deal with. If God wills to heal, why do people still die? Do we not believe earnestly enough? And like you said, small children and innocent babies get diagnosed with cancers, why? Although I read your post and completely agree, I still don’t have the answers to my heart wrenching questions. I suppose I will never fully receive all the answers until heaven, but they sure do bring me heart ache when I witness death. Blessings to you, Tanya.

    1. Yes… I can definitely relate to this… I have been going back and forth on this for a long time. Frankly, it’s easier to just say, “well, it wasn’t God’s will for them to be healed.” I can’t do that anymore…

      I believe that we, the Church, the body of Christ have been given the responsibility (the authority) to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. “These signs will accompany those that believe…” Mark 16:17

      “If it is God’s will to heal all the time, why do people still die?” I think it’s related to 2 Peter 3:9 where it says that God’s will is not that any should perish but that everyone would come to repentance. Does everyone get saved? No…

      I too have struggled with asking the Lord for the reasons why doesn’t everyone get healed if it is His will to heal. The best answer I found was in the Bible itself. And it’s because of unbelief, which can only be cast out with prayer and fasting. Read Matthew 17:14-20 and it becomes very clear why healing doesn’t happen… That’s just my conviction on the matter and I do want to address it in greater detail in the following post.

      Blessings and love to you!

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