Question: Why doesn't God always heal the sick when they are given priesthood blessings?

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Question: Why doesn't God always heal the sick when they are given priesthood blessings?

The healing power of faith and the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of the Lord

God does heal the sick. There are many miraculous accounts of healing in and outside of the church. However, as D&C 42:48 states, it is not always the will of the Lord for every individual to be healed:

And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained this very well:

[W]e must always remember that faith and the healing power of the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him whose priesthood it is. This principle is taught in the revelation directing that the elders of the Church shall lay their hands upon the sick. The Lord’s promise is that “he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48; emphasis added). Similarly, in another modern revelation the Lord declares that when one “asketh according to the will of God … it is done even as he asketh” (D&C 46:30).

From all of this we learn that even the servants of the Lord, exercising His divine power in a circumstance where there is sufficient faith to be healed, cannot give a priesthood blessing that will cause a person to be healed if that healing is not the will of the Lord.

As children of God, knowing of His great love and His ultimate knowledge of what is best for our eternal welfare, we trust in Him. The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith means trust.[1]

The words of the blessing are not essential and cannot override the will of the Lord

The words spoken in a priesthood blessing may not be fulfilled if they are not in accordance with the will of the Lord. Likewise, a person may receive blessings not stated by the priesthood holder if they are in accordance with the will of the Lord and the faith of the individual.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

Fortunately, the words spoken in a healing blessing are not essential to its healing effect. If faith is sufficient and if the Lord wills it, the afflicted person will be healed or blessed whether the officiator speaks those words or not. Conversely, if the officiator yields to personal desire or inexperience and gives commands or words of blessing in excess of what the Lord chooses to bestow according to the faith of the individual, those words will not be fulfilled. [2]

God wants us to be His hands to alleviate suffering

Many people ask whether God intervenes in our lives. It is true that he does from time to time. But, perhaps a more important question is whether we are intervening in each others' lives. Should we pray that God will heal the sick? Yes. But, more importantly, are we "visiting the sick and administering to their relief?" [3] Perhaps God is more concerned with what we are doing to intervene in the lives of others than with intervening directly himself.

Spencer W. Kimball stated it this way: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom." [4]

If God chose to heal all the sick through direct intervention, we would have fewer opportunities to be blessed by charitable service. Perhaps God allows many individuals to suffer without healing so that we can bless them and be blessed by our service to them. After all, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." [5]

One purpose of mortality is to learn through our experience

One of the purposes of life is to learn, through our own experience, how to discern between good and evil and to treasure the good. When we accepted the Father's plan, we also accepted the pain, anguish, heartache, suffering and death that it entails. However, when we act in faith and call upon God, He may take "the burdens which [are] laid upon" us and make them "light." He may choose to "strengthen [us] that [we can] bear up [our] burdens with ease." [6] He often does this instead of removing our burdens outright through healing or other means.

As taught by Elder Orson F. Whitney:

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. [7]

In this light, opposition and heartache are not simply an uncomfortable reality, they are actually central to the plan. Therefore, if God were to always heal the sick, he would do so at the peril of his own plan for us.

Suffering caused by sickness can help lead us to sanctification

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquillity. … Father Lehi promised his son Jacob that God would ‘consecrate [his] afflictions for [his] gain’ (2 Nephi 2:2). The Prophet Joseph was promised that ‘thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high’ (D&C 121:7–8).


Most of us experience some measure of what the scriptures call ‘the furnace of affliction’ (Isaiah 48:10; 1 Nephi 20:10). Some are submerged in service to a disadvantaged family member. Others suffer the death of a loved one or the loss or postponement of a righteous goal like marriage or childbearing. Still others struggle with personal impairments or with feelings of rejection, inadequacy, or depression. Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become. [8]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then, let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!' [9]

Permanent healing will come to all through the resurrection

At the time of the resurrection, "the soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame." [10]

Until then, any medical or miracle healing is only temporary. The ultimate healing was already planned before the foundations of the world and will be brought about through the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ.



Notes

  1. Dallin H. Oaks, "Healing the Sick," General Conference Priesthood Session (April 2010).
  2. Dallin H. Oaks, "Healing the Sick," General Conference Priesthood Session (April 2010).
  3. Mosiah 4:26
  4. "Small Acts of Service," Spencer W. Kimball https://www.lds.org/ensign/1974/12/small-acts-of-service?lang=eng
  5. Mosiah 2:17
  6. Mosiah 24:15
  7. Orson F. Whitney, quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, in Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 98
  8. Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge to Become," Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32
  9. Neal A. Maxwell, "Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds," Ensign, May 1991, 88
  10. Alma 40:23