Don’t let the devil succeed in getting you to despair in the midst of slow healing. Trust that God will not waste one bit of your suffering; instead, believe God’s word that all things will work together for good through everything he allows in your life (Rom. 8:28).
Who likes to heal slowly? That’s right, no one. We all want to be healed yesterday from whatever physical or mental ailment or troubled relationship we are experiencing at present. If you are a believer who is going through a slow healing process, it could be—and likely is the case—that God is using your circumstances to grow you for your good and his glory. While you may feel frustrated, disappointed, angry, disheartened, or all four combined with how long it’s taking for healing to happen, here are eight ways God may be using slow healing in your sanctification in Christ:
1. God may be using slow healing to humble you.
Perhaps you were born with certain natural talents, desirable physical attributes, or material blessings that the world puts on a pedestal. You love Jesus and know that God wants you to walk in humility and dependence on him, but it is tempting to trust in these good things God has given you instead of trusting in God himself. In 2 Kings 5 we read about Naaman, who was a “mighty man of valor” (2 Kings 5:1) with much wealth and an esteemed position in society. Naaman was afflicted with leprosy and heard that the prophet Elisha could heal him. Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan river and wash seven times in order to be made clean of his disease. Upon hearing this, the mighty man was angry that Elisha didn’t heal him immediately. Naaman thought he was too good to have to wash in the Jordan river at all, let alone seven times:
But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that [Elisha] would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. (2 Kings 5:11-12)
Naaman’s wealth and status couldn’t help him. Just as Naaman needed to humble himself before the God of Israel by obeying Elisha’s instructions in order to be rid of his leprosy, so also all people need to humble themselves before God to be rid of their guilt and sin. Slow healing helps us to recognize the foolishness of trusting in worldly things for happiness and self-worth and instead to turn to God, who alone can heal us body and soul.
2. Slow healing encourages believers to turn to the Lord for help.
It is often the case that Christians can become lackadaisical in their prayer life when things are going smoothly. They feel like they have things under control and easily lose their focus on their constant need and duty to go before the Lord in prayer. It may be that the Lord is allowing your healing process to proceed slowly to cause you to lean on him more than ever in prayer. Rapid healing might not bring you to persistently cast your burdens on God in the same way a slow healing process would. Here are just a few Bible passages that encourage us to continue to trust in God and pray to him in times of suffering:
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:17-18)
3. Slow healing helps us to appreciate God’s common grace in everyday life.
There are people who think that God can heal them without using everyday resources such as doctors, medicine, or therapy. And while this is indeed true, God often works by his common grace through both Christians and non-Christians in his order of creation. Physical wounds normally don’t heal overnight; the healing process almost always requires time—possibly weeks or months or maybe even years. Similarly, a deep emotional or mental wound won’t normally heal fully from a quick-fix solution. Deep wounds especially require time and help from others who care about us.
In his common grace God provides us with professionals who have spent many years learning how to treat our physical and emotional wounds and diseases. If someone tells you that you don’t need outside help to treat your problem because God will heal you if you have enough faith, that person is not sharing biblical truth with you. We should praise God for the people who have taken the time to grow in knowledge and skill so they can help others. This is how God has designed the world, and such people are respected for their commitment to excellence in their pursuits:
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. (Prov. 22:29)
4. God may be using slow healing to grow the spiritual fruit of patience in you.
Every Christian wants to have the fruit of patience, but actually being patient is another thing entirely! This is especially true when it comes to the healing process. Just because we don’t see slow healing taking place doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The human body and mind are amazingly complex. We can see, hear, touch, and feel some of what is going on in our bodies but not everything:
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. (Ps. 139:14)