Why Was That Godly Person Not Healed?

As I write this post, it has been less than a week since Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi died of cancer. Many people, including me, were praying for his healing. But God didn’t heal him.

Although many people will say his death and resurrection when Jesus returns will be a healing, let’s be honest and admit that wasn’t what we were praying for.

As we reflect on this, I need to make one thing clear:


I’m deeply skeptical of those who claim to have special insight into why a specific person wasn’t healed. It often leads to hurt and increased grief.

I also want to say that this is not about Nabeel. Many of us have known of other godly men and women who are very active in ministry and dedicated followers of Jesus, who despite the prayers of many, were not healed in the way we had asked.

Although we cannot know the details, it is natural for us to reflect on why these things do or don’t happen. I also believe that there is something that we can say about this.

One of the things we need to do is examine our presuppositions about healing. There are some who believe that God never heals (having stopped with the compilation of the Bible) and some who believe that God will heal every time, as long as we ask in faith.

I think that both of those perspectives are simple and bring clarity. But I don’t hold to either of them. My understanding, based on both the Bible and my experience, that God sometimes heal and sometimes doesn’t.

If that is the case, we need to ask which activity is the exception rather than the norm. Does God normally heal everyone, with a few people not being healed are the exception? Or does God normally allow our health to take its natural path, being improved mostly through nutrition and medical treatment, with the supernatural healing being the exception?

Answering these questions changed how we look at why God does or doesn’t do something. Depending on how we answer those questions, our next question might be, “Why was that person healed” rather than “Why was that other person not healed.”

A helpful passage of Scripture is Acts 12. In this chapter, we have two apostles, James and Peter, being imprisoned because of their faith. Christians prayed for both and James was executed and Peter was miraculously freed. I see in this passage, a picture of what reality is like.

What I see is that we live in a world where our bodies are fragile and there are deadly diseases, such as cancer. Even those people who were healed by Jesus two thousand years ago, eventually got sick and died. All of us will get sick and die at some point. It is not about how godly or gifted or nice or anything like that.

Why was that godly person not healed?

We live in a world where these things happen and most often God doesn’t prevent it with supernatural intervention. Even when God does intervene, there will be another time in that same person’s life that God won’t.

Perhaps we need to shift from why to when. When a person gets sick, how should we respond? Here are some ideas:

  • Do pray for the person’s healing. We can’t know God’s will ahead of time, so do pray this way.
  • Support the sick person and their family in any way that you can. This is emotionally, as well as in practical ways.
  • If the person dies, pray for the family and support them. Do not withdraw from them just because you don’t know what to say.
  • If the person is healed, glorify God. Help the person to discover the reason why God intervened in such a way.
  • Receive these reminders of our mortality as a gift. Knowing that our day will eventually arrive, how will you live during the time you have?

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