Divine healing is a mysterious thing. We know God can heal us miraculously, and we know He does. But we also know He doesn’t always. So when we’re facing a medical issue, and we have prayed for healing in faith, the hardest things to do are wait in faith and make medical decisions after that.

For example, if you have prayed in faith for healing from physical pain but all doctors agree that you need surgery, do you get the surgery? Some Christians would say no — wait for God to heal you miraculously. A greater number of other Christians would say yes — God no longer heals people miraculously, medicine is now the means He uses to heal people, so submit yourself to the knife every time.

But both these positions are off. God still heals miraculously, but He also works through medicine and doctors to heal people. Regardless of how we are healed, the fact is that it is God who has healed us. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

The decision of whether to undergo surgery is an individual one. It depends on what the Lord has told you. If He has said not to go to surgery and that He will heal you or He will be glorified in your weakness (as He repeatedly told the apostle Paul when Paul asked to be delivered from the “thorn in his side”), then do not have surgery. But if He has not told you this, or if you’re not sure what He has said, then plan for the surgery and entrust yourself to His care.

God is not coy and He doesn’t play mind games with us. He delights in our simple faith. If we pray sincerely, “Lord, I don’t know what to do here. But I know you do. I’m planning on having this surgery. If you don’t want me to, though, please stop me,” then He will honor that.

The Christian subculture tends to emphasize that God’s work is all about us. And from that perspective, it makes the most sense for God to heal us miraculously and instantaneously in response to our first prayer. But God’s purposes are higher than ours, and His ways are not our ways. He’s the ultimate multitasker — He uses the same incident or circumstance to accomplish His purposes in us as He does in others.

For example, He might use your surgery to accomplish something in the lives of the doctors, nurses, staff, or other patients you encounter. How is that less worthy in the kingdom of God than an instantaneous, miraculous healing? It’s not. Throughout the Bible we learn that the purpose for miracles is to bring glory to God and draw people to Him. And that’s His chief purpose for everything. He will use whatever means necessary accomplish that — whether it’s through a miracle or through an encounter you will have with another person in the hospital.

Surgery is not antithetical to divine healing. Rather, it’s a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis depending on how the Lord has been leading you.