Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts 3:19-21)
I’ve had depression for pretty much as long as I can remember. I inherited it from my dad. There are times when I’m just not okay and there’s nothing to be done about it. Just last night I had a great time of prayer because it’s been really bad recently and I just needed to vent to God. I haven’t felt okay—let alone good—for over a week. I’ve prayed many times that I would no longer have depression, yet I’ve never been healed.
Have you ever been sick? Have you ever been injured? Or someone close to you has been sick or injured, or has even died from it?
What do you do when things don’t—and won’t—get better? What do you do when God doesn’t heal?
First, don’t hide your feelings from God. Aside from it being pointless (he knows them anyway), it’s also counter-productive. God is the source, the very definition, of good. Nothing will ever be good again without him. So giving God the silent treatment will only make things worse.
Like I said earlier, things have been pretty bad for me, emotionally, this last week. But God is the one who sees me through these times, and he always has. I’ve had severe depression since before I was a teenager, but I’ve never attempted suicide. That’s fairly abnormal. It is very, very common for people with depression of this severity to attempt suicide, yet I’ve wrestled with my own brain chemistry for over twenty years and I’ve never attempted to end my own life.
What’s kept me going is my relationship with God. When my mind tells me I’m worthless, when all I feel is pain and I just want it to end, I don’t turn away from God but to him. Last night, I was hurting immensely. I felt like I was worth less than nothing, like nothing I did mattered. I hadn’t felt even remotely okay in over a week. So I went on a drive and I talked with God. And it wasn’t a calm, civilized discussion—there was a lot of yelling and crying involved.
And God was faithful to listen to me and to just be with me.
Today, I still don’t feel okay.
I’m not healed. I feel way less burden, though, because I stopped carrying it. It’s on God’s shoulders now. So now, I don’t feel okay, but I don’t feel like I’m being crushed anymore.
So, here I am. God has promised healing to all of his people. Yet I, one of his children, am not healed. But that doesn’t mean I’m not one of his children. No, I’m learning more and more what it means to be God’s son.
But how can we have faith in God’s promises if we aren’t experiencing them right now? God’s saying no!
But he’s not saying no. God’s saying not yet.
And he may continue to say not yet for the rest of our lives here on earth. This is one thing we have to remember when we think God’s not keeping his promises: All healing is temporary.
Let us say I were to be healed of my depression right now. Does this mean I would never feel bad again? Does it mean that my mind will always be healthy? No. Things happen. And even if nothing else happened to hurt me ever again, I will die eventually. Everyone Jesus healed—even those he raised from the dead—died at some point. Lazarus is not running around right now.
We, as God’s children, have the promise of the resurrection.
But in order for us to be resurrected, we have to die. You can’t resurrect what isn’t dead.
We have to bear in mind that we are in the middle of time. Christ has come and fulfilled God’s promises, but God’s promises won’t be fully fulfilled until Christ returns. Jesus is the one “whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”
We aren’t done yet.
So what is healing? What is its purpose in the first place if not everyone will be healed, and even those who are healed will pass away anyway?
God has “put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (1 Cor 1:22). That last word isn’t just guarantee but rather down payment. Paul refers to the Holy Spirit and his gifts as the down payment or guarantee or earnest money many times in his writings. What he means is this: that the Holy Spirit—and along with it, all the gifts of the Spirit, including healing—is just what God has given us that we can know we have our inheritance as children of God.
We do not receive the rest of our inheritance until the resurrection at Christ’s return. And then, when Christ returns, we will stand before God, made fully new and in full relationship with God.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away…. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Cor 13:8-9).
The gifts of healing and prophecy and all these things will pass away when we stand before God because there will be no more need. No longer broken, we will no longer need the things that patch us up. Because things like healing are only patches, pointing to the day when we will be remade whole.
It is easy to be discouraged when God says not yet. We have to remember that even when God says yes, it’s only a down payment on what is to come. It’s only foreshadowing. It reassures us of what God has for us in Christ.
So even in your darkest times, know that God is with you. Don’t turn from him, but talk to him. He’s a strong enough God that he can handle you yelling at him. He can handle your anger and your frustration and your pain. And he will be with you. He will walk you through these times.
We do not worship a God who abandoned us. We worship the God who walked with us to our graves. And having gone into the grave with us, he came back out. And soon, very soon, he will bring us all out with him.