After Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, the Apostle Matthew relates the experience of a leper who approached Christ and asked for healing. The leper demonstrated that He knew Jesus had the ability and power to heal him, but he also acknowledged the Saviour had a choice with the words, “Lord, if thou wilt”; in response, “Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:2-3).
Concerning this healing, Elder Walter F. Gonzalez, of the Seventy, explains: “We learn here that our Savior always wants to bless us. Some blessings may come immediately, others may take longer, and some may even come after this life, but blessings will come in due time” (“The Savior’s Touch,” Ensign, Nov. 2019, 90).
Faith to Accept Christ’s Answer
The leper must have felt desperate for help, for change, for a better life. Yet he still acknowledged the if in this situation. The if meant he might not get the healing he sought. Still, he had courage, faith, and humility to ask for healing from this most feared disease in all of ancient Israel (see video “Leprosy,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
What if the Lord’s answer was, “No, I will not heal you today”? The scriptures are replete with many people who were not healed. We do not read of all being well after the Savior’s Resurrection and the ministry of the Apostles in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. There still remained many who needed healing from afflictions of all types. The Apostles healed many, and by their actions teach us that the power of God can be ministered by those who have authority.
Just as in New Testament times, there are people in our day who are seeking healing. Miracles still do occur.
Making the request for healing and accepting the answer that comes requires faith in Jesus Christ and His power to heal. It requires faith in His knowledge of what may be best for us. Such faith is easier when we have a firm understanding of His love for us. Without that understanding, possible outcomes of continued afflictions can feel arbitrary and lacking mercy. When we know that the love of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost is real and constant, we can accept trials continuing past what we wish would be their ending time.
Accepting the Father’s Will and Love
What happens to the person when the answer is no? We need to learn to pray as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink of it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
Recently, prior to giving me a priesthood blessing, my ministering brother said to me, “I desire to say ‘Arise and walk’ (Matthew 9:5), but I think these words may not be spoken this day.”
In that moment, I faced a choice—do I choose to still receive a blessing that will not heal me, or do I receive the counsel that Heavenly Father desires me to hear? Do I still have faith and trust in God without being healed from my afflictions? I had long been praying and seeking answers. I knew in the deep recesses of my heart that healing was not coming on this day. I still had hope: I was ready to be one by the pool who was not healed that day (see John 5:2-15).
The blessing that day was a specific reinforcement of the love my Heavenly Father has for me; the love Jesus Christ has for me; and the love the Holy Ghost has for me. All three members of the Godhead are aware of me, my suffering, my desires, and my needs for strength to endure. I knew that I am loved and never alone. That knowledge makes a measurable difference in accepting the trials that seem unending.
Comprehending the Character of God
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God” (Gospel Principles , Chapter 47: Exaltation). And “If men do not comprehend the character of God,” explained Joseph Smith, “they do not comprehend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 40).
The journey has felt long, and I thought I knew this already, but I think I finally have put my foot on the path to truly comprehend the “Character of God.” My heart is beginning to feel what my mind and intellect have always believed.
The words of President Dallin H. Oaks are true: “The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them like the Apostle Paul—is available for every affliction in mortality” (“He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 8).
Faith is required in asking for what we need, but even greater faith is required when the answer we desire is not forthcoming. Love sometimes means that the Lord’s answer is, “No.” God is watching over us even though we hurt. He is teaching us to endure suffering and grow closer to Him: “So by my woes to be Nearer, my God, to thee” (“Nearer, My God, to Thee,” Hymns, no. 100). A no answer is also an expression of love from Heavenly Father.
Our individual trials and sufferings may also help us better understand the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary’s cross: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19).