Healing and God’s Sovereignty

When Christians refer to God’s sovereignty in the context of healing miracles, it is usually to explain why healing rarely or even never occurs — for them. The doctrine is almost always used to teach, not in these words but in effect, that God almost never answers prayer, or that God almost never gives you what you ask. God’s sovereignty is a doctrine of constant and ultimate victory — endless, overwhelming, spectacular triumph — but it is too often used as an explanation for defeat. Why not say that God answers prayer, that he gives us what we ask from him, and because he is sovereign, no one can stop him?

I have never met anyone who says, “God is sovereign,” and follows that with, “Therefore, when I pray for the sick, over fifty percent receive healing,” or over ninety percent, or a hundred percent. Christians either accept defeat and blame God’s sovereignty, or they seize victory and reject God’s sovereignty. Why? Why not seize victory because we affirm God’s sovereignty? “People receive healing when I pray in faith, and sometimes they receive healing even when I have no faith, because God is sovereign.” Why not say that?

Instead, when someone says, “God is sovereign,” it is often followed with something depressing. Even though the Bible tells him what to expect, he insists that he never knows what would happen. Perhaps one percent would get healed, or no one would get healed. He would say, “God is sovereign, so someone might not receive healing even when I pray in faith.” Somehow the doctrine of divine sovereignty means that God never does anything good for you, or he rarely does. The Bible, on the other hand, tells me that God will do more than what I can ask or think. The doctrine of divine sovereignty empowers me to expect more, not less.