It is important to wrestle with these questions in an attempt for answers. Why is God’s will so, seemingly, horrible to some people who love him? Here’s my answer: I don’t know. But I continue to believe that he is the sovereign King of the Universe, that he is Goodness itself, and that he loves me more dearly than I can imagine.
I’m a charismatic, I believe that God heals today and that this happens frequently. I’ve watched someone’s leg grow while someone else prayed for them. I’ve felt the muscles in someone’s back untwist while I prayed for them. I’ve known a friend’s brain cancer to disappear. God heals. We can, in a general sense, suggest that God wills that everyone be healed, not least on the basis that sickness has no place in his inbreaking kingdom (Revelation 21).
I’ve also prayed for numerous people who have not been healed, including a dear friend who is going blind, I’ve known a friend die from a brain tumour despite our prayers.
Which at the very least raises a theological question for us. It raises a range of pastoral ones too. Why was it that these people aren’t healed? Is it their fault? Is it mine for not praying correctly?
Some of the big American charismatic churches that are popular in my circles would probably suggest that the problem was with our faith. One particular church suggests in their popular teaching that there is no ‘deficiency’ on God’s end (sure, no one disagrees), so when someone isn’t healed all the ‘lack’ is on our end.
Thankfully they don’t always blame the person being prayed for their lack of faith, though this sadly does happen, more often they would situate the lack of faith in those praying. Which raises some important pastoral questions. And it’s nonsense.
Let’s go back to the Bible. Sometimes, we’re told that Jesus ‘healed everyone he met’ so therefore we would too if we could, indicating that the problem is ‘on our end.’ Except clearly he doesn’t heal everyone he meets: think of Mark 6, which raises its own questions, or of characters healed by the apostles who Jesus presumably knew (e.g. Acts 3).
In the pages of the Scriptures, we find a God who heals, marvellously, time and time again. We also find a God who wounds (2 Corinthians 12). Our theology needs to be big enough for both. We know that the revealed will of God is to heal and to bless. And we know that God sends calamity (Isaiah 45).