I have prayed for a couple of people and seen them instantly and permanently healed. The psalmist claims that the one who lives close to God “will not fear…the pestilence that stalks in the darkness”(Psalm 91:1-6). David says of God that He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:3). God promises Israel that if they obey His commands He will spare them from all the diseases he brought upon Egypt, because, He says, “I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). A significant part of Jesus’ ministry was “healing every disease” (Matthew 4:23).
Should we conclude from this that God wants us well? Yes and no. Yes, we may infer that God in His goodness and compassion finds it desirable that we not suffer. All things being equal, He wants us to experience the utmost joy and comfort. But No, that is not God’s highest priority for our lives.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 is one of the most instructive passages in this regard. After describing a unique revelation of heaven which he experienced, Paul reveals that God gave him something else to go with it – a thorn in the flesh, a physical ailment. The reason He did this was, Paul tells us, “to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations” (verse 7). Because Paul believed it was God’s desire to bless His servants and because he was hurting, he prayed three times for God to remove this thorn in his flesh. Surely Paul prayed in faith.
But God did not heal Paul. Instead, he communicated to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9). Though God’s desire for Paul’s comfort was real, His desire for Paul’s personal character development and effectiveness in ministry was even greater.
God’s highest priority for my life is not health, even though this might serve as a tremendous testimony to unbelievers. In fact, God’s highest priority for my life is holiness and the greatest testimony of God’s power is holiness despite suffering. This truth is communicated in Romans 8:28,29: In all things God works for the good of those who love him…for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. Even sufferings work for our good because God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son and suffering can promote that end.
Does God want you well? Yes, but only as it suits His highest purposes. He may choose to withhold healing to promote holiness.