But how should you respond when God doesn’t answer your prayers for healing? Does that mean you lack enough faith? Not necessarily. Certainly, it’s wise to examine your heart for doubt and unbelief any time God answers “no” to prayer. Ask Him to reveal any areas of sin or skepticism that you might be harboring. But the truth is that some of the blessings Jesus purchased through His suffering on the cross—such as the physical healing promised in Isaiah 53:5—will not be fully realized until we are in His presence one day. Even Paul the apostle, a man of great faith, continued to suffer from a mysterious aliment he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 2:7).
We must remember that while the Father cares about our physical bodies, His primary concern is our spiritual growth. His ultimate goal is to conform us into the image of Christ (see Rom. 8:29). When we realize our suffering is a result of sin or unhealthy habits, we need to repent of those behaviors and return to close fellowship with God. But many times, people who become ill haven’t done anything to deserve it (see John 9:1-3). Sickness and disease are a part of our imperfect world and affect both righteous and unrighteous people. However, God wants to use suffering of all kinds, including sickness, to mature us spiritually and draw us closer to Him (see Rom. 8:28). The apostle Paul discovered new strength in the Lord because of his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:9-10). And He can use sickness in our lives to refine us and strengthen our relationship with Him.
When you become ill, and your prayers for relief seem to go unanswered, ask God what He wants you to learn through the experience. Humble yourself and ask if there are any areas of your life that He would like to refine. Don’t let sickness make you so bitter that you give up on your relationship with God. And certainly, keep praying for His hand to move in your life and bring recovery. You have His promise that complete healing will come one day, whether it is in this life or in eternity.