When Healing and Justice Don’t Happen: Pt 1
“And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?
Will he delay long over them?”
One of the hard questions we often face as believers is asking why God does not always heal us or give us justice as we expect. This issue is incredibly important because it can bring us into much confusion and cause us to struggle with doubt and unbelief.
When we are facing this question, it is always important for us to recognize the real needs here. It is cruel and merciless to talk about doctrines so bluntly—having no regard for the real needs and sufferings of others. So firstly, we should be free to acknowledge our needs and pain.
Secondly, we must always be prepared to view our sufferings correctly. We are predisposed to despairing, mistrusting God, allowing self pity, and permitting the anger of enmity against God within our hearts. Part of recognizing that we are sinful beings is recognizing that every area in us is sinful—there is no part of us that is sacred, and this includes our feelings and conclusions from our feelings.
This means that while we grasp with one hand the necessity of our needs being real we must also grasp with this the necessity of controlling ourselves within our feelings. We must be prepared to recognize that our feelings come just as much from our sinfulness as anything else. Therefore, we must always be prepared to root out and starve any feelings that seek to oppose God and harden our hearts against them.
Both of these are essential to mention, because often when we open the “floodgate” of our feelings we believe too easily that we are to permit any of them—that every feeling is legitimate, and this is just not true. Alternatively, we too easily imagine that “right doctrine” is to be cruel and merciless, and has no real agency for the sufferings we or others are in. Rather, we must learn to grasp our feelings and needs as real, not turning on ourselves as though these are all illegitimate, yet at the same time we must grasp our feelings in wisdom, discerning even here between what is evil in us and what is simply fact. This grants us permission and it calls us up to righteousness at the same time.
When we look around ourselves, there is great need. There is sickness and injustice at almost every doorstep and so often the mind of man wanders to the question, “Why does God allow such things?… Why does God not change these things?” And while there is much of this that is mysterious and belongs to God to reveal when He will, there is still much that we can know, understand, and obey God within: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut 29:29)
The main thing is this: God’s mind is upon that which is spiritual and holy. He sees that these are the things that are our true needs, and that the removal of suffering and injustice does not always bear fruit upon these points. To be most clear, God most certainly cares about evil, and He is the One who is angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7:11). God cared about evil and sin far before we ever did. We should not hear this to mean that God has substituted a hatred of sin for patient suffering, but rather, that He controls all of these things for a certain purpose and He calls His saints to look to the same purpose, and to hold their peace and obedience there.
The point for us is this: that which is spiritual is to be our concern. In part, we must recognize that physical healing or justice has very little bearing upon a person’s spiritual state. If a person were to gain all of these things it still has very little effect upon them for salvation or sanctification. Rather, only the work of Christ in a person has this effect, and it is this alone that is truly to be valued by us in this life.
An example of this is Christ healing the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). Though He healed ten only one returned to Him in faith. The healing, most miraculous as it was, had no bearing upon their spiritual state. And this is what we must recognize, that Christ heals and does all of His miracles for the spiritual state, for faith in Himself, which is repentance and believing in Him, turning from our sins and walking in newness of life. All is for the purpose of faith in Christ.
The healings Christ did revealed Him for who He is. It’s not to say that Christ doesn’t heal today; to say this is to go into the cruel and merciless position of having no mind to those who truly are desperate, as if Christ doesn’t heal out of mercy to His people (Luke 13:10-17) or to glorify His name before men (John 9:1-7). Such people are heartless and also have no faith in God. And yet to say the reverse is also cruel and merciless—to insist upon healing with no mind to God’s true purposes. For it bears no mind to what others are to walk in when not healed, and pays no mind to the purposes of God in such sufferings—the great good and meaningfulness that is given to us by God (Rom 8:28).
What we are meant to see within all of this is that God absolutely has the power to heal yet we are to see and submit to what God puts first. That is the purposes of His kingdom—faith in Christ, repentance of sin, and walking in obedience to God.
The principle we are to understand regarding all things is to look upon them with the same eye—for what is in accordance to the will of God, working salvation and sanctification. This is everything from money, to the clothes we wear, to the jobs we have, and yes, this is also how we must look at our sufferings and the subject of healing. We must all be willing to value the true work of God in the soul of a person over and above anything physical in this world. And we must recognize how the obtainment of even such things as these does not produce the godliness in heart that we are most in desperate need of. What does it matter to gain all justice, all healing, and yet continue on in our sin, live in unbelief, and die unrepentant? Or what does it matter to gain all justice and healing, and be a weak believer, lukewarm all our days, and to never come to a place of truly recognizing the absolute Lordship of Christ and live a life truly changed? Again, a person can have all of these things and yet it means literally nothing upon what truly matters in this life. This is what God sees.
God does not call us to merely stop complaining in our suffering, to settle, but to seek that which is truly of value. Not to be void of meaning, but seek that which is of greatest meaning in this life. For more on this see “Godliness Versus Ambition”, Part 1 and Part 2.
There is great meaning in our sufferings, and it is that of obtaining Christ (Phil 3:8). The natural man within us wants the physical things, yet God knows what is greater: to have God is worth far more than the mountains of health, wealth, and happiness. This is the point. This is God’s purpose and therefore it is a great possession. This is what all the Scriptures on suffering points to: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom 8:18) “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:11) “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor 4:17), and Colossians 3:4, Romans 5:3-4, 1 Peter 5:10, etc.
The purpose of God is to give us the true possession, the truly great things. The more we are faithful to Christ, the more we shall see what is of true value and riches (John 14:21, Eph 3:8). This isn’t a metaphor, this is reality itself. It is only our sin that blinds us to it. Trust Christ where you cannot see these things, and fight for faith in what His Word says to be of true value.
(Read on for more on this topic in Part 2.)
November 30, 2020