Those who seem to be the most vocal about divine healing often adhere to the belief that claims all Christians ought to be healed. Hence, very few conversations explore what conclusions we should draw when God does not heal. As I mentioned at the end of my last article, many people do not experience physical healing, but we should not conclude that God is not at work in these situations.
To address this issue, we need to first realize what the appropriate questions to ask are. It is natural to want to be healed, but constantly pursuing that is frustrating. Instead, we should ask how God is already working.
One question we should always be asking is how we can become more like Jesus. Regardless of the conversation, acting as He would is our primary aim. Jesus is known as “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3). Hebrews goes so far as to say that “he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). If crucifixion taught the Son of God, I cannot think cerebral palsy has nothing to teach me. When we suffer, we have an opportunity to imitate Christ.
Another question we should ask is how we can bring glory to God. God is glorified when people are healed; He is also exalted when people endure difficult circumstances. Again, we understand this with other things. The heroes of the faith, in the Bible and throughout history, are remembered for the incredibly difficult things they had to do. We recognize faith best in the places no one would choose to be.
Suffering often allows us to meet people we would not otherwise: doctors, therapists, and other patients. Since we are to be like Jesus in everything we do, the way we live should be noticeably different. When we endure with grace, other people can see Jesus in us. We can be witnesses to people other Christians will never meet.
These questions help us to find a better mindset about our sufferings. We need to realize that attaining a comfortable and easy life should not be our main goal. Therefore, a discussion about healing should include an exploration of suffering itself. God can use a broken body every bit as much as a healed one.
If you are tempted to think that I am an expert at this or that I welcome the every chance cerebral palsy gives me to grow, nothing can be further from the truth. This summer, I tested a treatment I thought may improve my function. Not only did it fail to do what I really wanted; I was told no treatment can. Internalizing that news has been excruciatingly difficult. Yet, I am slowly discovering where God is in this. For right now, I know that God is sitting in the disappointment with me, and that is a comforting thought. My hope is that through everything, Christ will be glorified.
In my next article, I will discuss the practical implications of both systems of thought we have been exploring. I think it is there that we will find the strength needed to endure suffering.