I don’t know the answer to that question. Not completely anyway. I can narrow it down some and eliminate some possibilities, but I’m still left with a giant, heaping pile of “I’m not sure.” It’s natural to have thoughts like, am I being punished? Is God trying to get my attention? Is God not listening to MY prayers?
I want to give some advice here. It is vitally important to get to know who God is before crisis hits as opposed to during. You need to know how much Jesus loves you and how sovereign and in-control He is, before you get knee deep in the muck of life. When you are enduring such a trial, you honestly can’t think clearly. Think of it like this, every good superhero is always ready to suit-up at any given moment. If Spiderman had to run home real quick to put on his spandex, then Green Goblin and Doc Oc would get away every time. The same thing is true in our Christian lives. If we have to get to know the heart of God real quick before coming back to deal with our sickness, or tragedy, or whatever might be consuming us at the moment, then we will always miss the point. But if you are truly at a loss for why God won’t heal you or a friend of yours, here’s a couple of ideas from what I’ve gleaned from Scripture.
1) Jesus Sometimes Likes to Do a Dramatic Pause
Jesus is LEGEN… wait for it… DARY! If he heals you right now, maybe there’s a couple of “thanks” and spiritual fist bumps. But, if Jesus waits, and the prayers keep coming, and more people start praying, and more people start praying! The desire and the anticipation can reach a fever pitch. Then, when Jesus heals, there can be an eruption of applause. Jesus gets the equivalent reaction of 2 best-friend sorority sisters who haven’t seen each other since LAST semester… and they both have NEW hairdos…. AND new boyfriends. There is NOTHING more exciting than that moment. Nothing! Jesus deserves that sort of unbridled, giddy, emotional excitement, and the only way He can get it sometimes is to wait. Once it’s the 4th quarter, the 3rd period, or the 9th inning, everyone is finally paying attention. The story of Lazarus is way less interesting and notable if Jesus just heals a guy with pneumonia.
2) Jesus Doesn’t Put on Magic Shows
Every time the Pharisees or the like want Jesus to prove who he is by doing a miracle, they are essentially saying, “I don’t believe in you but if you do something really cool like make a volcano or create a living, breathing unikitty (a feline with a magical horn coming out of its head), then I might consider believing in who you say you are.” Well, belief is belief. You either believe or you don’t, and a miracle will no more convince you then when the dressmaker came out and said the dress was black and blue. I know that dress was white and gold!!!
One possible reason for your prayers not being answered is you are bargaining with God. You are saying, “I will really believe in you, if you heal me,” which is very different than saying, “I really believe in you, will you heal me?” Anecdotally, I see Jesus healing people because of their faith, rather than doing something else cool for skeptics to ignore.
3) Jesus Occasionally Just Says, “No”
When Paul asked to be healed of his “thorn in his flesh,” Jesus basically just told him, “No. My strength is perfected in your weakness.” Paul wishes that wasn’t the answer but ultimately praises Jesus for using him despite being decrepit (2 Cor 12:7-10). So there is purpose to Him saying, “No.” He is displaying His power in your life. If we are always happy, always healthy, always satisfied, and always with excess, then why would we ever cry out to God?
As I said before, I don’t specifically know why God isn’t healing you or your loved ones. I find the Armor of God to be a helpful illustration. Just like Spiderman, the Armor needs to be on before trials hit. We need the Shield of Faith ready before the fiery darts are coming our way. But when all else fails, we have the Helmet of Salvation. I don’t think this means, “we need to get saved.” I think it means we need to “know we’re saved.” Knowing that no matter what happens at least we are promised Heaven, is certainly comforting.
Let’s just be honest, this world stinks. Getting older is hard. Life might not get better, and it might just get worse. But I personally am so thankful that I don’t have to go through it alone. I have Jesus. Jesus is enough. (But I’ll shoot straight with you… I’m going to keep praying for more.)