God’s will to heal is not constant. On our recent mission trip (2003) to Pakistan, Dubai, and India, we saw a wide spectrum of this factor. At times, the Lord would say “no.” This was His will for the powerful, miracle-working prophet Elisha who had the double portion of the spirit of Elijah after he fell ill from the sickness which would ultimately take his life (2 Kings 13:14). This was also His will for the mighty man of faith Paul the apostle when asked to remove the thorn from his flesh (the original Greek allows the thorn to be a physical infirmity, although it could have simply referred to the natural weakness of his body). Despite Paul’s great faith to move mountains, no healing took place. Nothing happens when God’s will to heal is a strong “no.”
At the other end of the spectrum—in different circumstances—His sovereign will to heal would be so strong that little effort on our part would be needed. God’s will to heal in such a case can be an absolute and apparently unconditional “yes.” In John 5 at the pool of Bethesda Jesus healed an invalid who had no faith at all to speak of.
In the middle of the two extremes God’s will to heal may in fact be “neutral” and the results are instead “according to our faith.” The infirm person may need to have faith for the healing, and/or the one who ministers may need to exercise authority over disease by commanding healing in the name of Jesus with mountain-moving faith. We see such a scenario in Acts 14 where Paul saw a lame man who had faith to be healed. Paul healed the man by commanding him to stand up on his feet with mountain-moving faith.
Sometimes the will of God to heal could be “no”, but not a “strong” no. In 2 Kings 20 God was clearly going to take Hezekiah through an illness, but because of his fervent prayer God gave him another 15 years. God’s mind can be “changed.” But those were not fruitful years for the king. Scripture tells us that he became proud and displeased the Lord by showing all his treasures to a pagan king.
In the same way, God’s will to heal can be “yes”, but not a “strong” yes. A measure of faith and action will be required, whether on the part of the infirm person or the one who ministers the healing.
There is another factor which can influence physical healing in the name of Jesus. Different infirmities require different measures of authority to minister the healing. Light infirmities such as ordinary headaches are relatively simple to dispatch in the name of Jesus. In contrast, to minister healing to someone lame or blind from birth under ordinary circumstances will require a measure of authority beyond what most believers have been given by the Lord. Extraordinary circumstances where these miracles are more likely to take place are found in mass evangelistic meetings where the gospel is proclaimed very boldly.
These two factors—God’s will to heal and the specific measure of authority given to the believer—can vary independently in each situation. In light of our recent mission trip, let’s examine the role of the first of these two factors in miraculous healing: God’s will to heal.
Quetta is a town close to the border that Third-World Pakistan shares with Afghanistan. In evangelistic meetings there an elderly woman blind in one eye and a young boy blind in one eye since birth were healed as believers laid hands on them. Of particular interest was the case of the boy whose eye was quickly opened when a young man only one year in Christ ministered to him. God’s will to heal in Pakistan during the proclamation of the gospel was found to be strong.
In India, many healings took place in the evangelistic Crusade meetings. In New Delhi, a blind man saw as a local pastor laid hands on him. Hindus were healed of various infirmities through trained believers and came to Christ. There were so many testimonies of healing that we had difficulty hearing all of them. In Orissa, the poorest state in all India, a little boy lame in one leg began to walk on that leg after Houston Pastor John Thomas ministered to him. A deaf-mute teenage boy could hear and speak after the ministry of mass healing, in which no one laid hands on him. It was very evident that God’s will to heal in India as the gospel was being presented was strong.
Standing in contrast to the meetings in Pakistan and India, both considered poor countries, were those conducted in Dubai, a wealthy state of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. The design and architecture of some of the buildings in modern Dubai equal if not surpass anything seen in the West. Dubai even boasts of a seven-star hotel, reputedly the only such hotel of its kind in the world. This year its national airline enjoyed record profits as most other airlines in the world went through catastrophic decline. Interestingly, the miracles witnessed in the Dubai meetings were fewer and less powerful than those in the poorer countries. A young deaf-mute girl, the child of a devoted Christian doctor, experienced no improvement in her hearing despite repeated ministry by different believers, including myself. But the wonderful believers in the Dubai meetings (many of them originally from India) ministered with authority and mountain-moving faith equal to that of the believers in Pakistan and India. What might explain the difference in the miracles between Dubai on the one hand, and India and Pakistan on the other?
In terms of spiritual darkness, all three are comparable. India counts three-quarters of a billion Hindus worshipping countless false gods. Pakistan has been known as a haven for Isl–mic terrorists and discriminates heavily against Christians. Dubai is an Isl–mic state where evangelism is forbidden except inside a few designated church complexes, and even there to non-Arabs only.
Economically, however, Dubai is relatively wealthy while India and Pakistan are poor. This may go far in explaining the difference in the miracles. Other things being equal, God wills to heal more powerfully in poorer countries than He does in richer countries. “Where darkness abounds, the grace of God abounds all the more.” To the poor the Lord may give greater grace in the realm of miraculous healing than to those who have far more access to quality medical care. There may possibly be an additional factor as well. “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith [for healing (my addition)]…?” James 2:5