As I'm writing this post, I'm checking Instagram nonstop to hear updates. A man I've been praying for is dying. He got admitted to the hospital a month and a half ago. My prayers have increased in passion while his condition has gotten worse and worse. Three days ago, when the doctors all agreed there was nearly no hope of his condition improving, one said "I can't say he has 0%, because I'm not God." Now, the doctors say he has less than 24 hours left.
What do you do when you don't see the healing you prayed for so sincerely?
I thought I saw a vision that confirmed God heard my prayer. I even had a dream where I woke up to a post that said "he is healed." But still, I haven't seen the healing I've been going after. I know there's no sickness in heaven, so... where is the healing?
See, I think when Jesus prayed (and taught us to pray) for God's will to be done "On earth as it is in heaven," I really think He meant it. I don't think we follow a God who takes sickness lightly. We don't worship a God who says "Suck it up. Life's not fair. Deal with it." No. We follow the same Jesus who met with Martha and Mary and wept over their dead brother, Lazarus. The same Jesus who, on so many occasions, had compassion on a person and healed them. Then, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit: our Comforter, our Counselor, our Helper, and our Advocate. Our God, in mercy unimaginable, comes to us in all of our hurt, in all of our desperate need and desire for healing, and weeps with us, comforts us, and helps us. Our God is for us.
If we try to decide if God is good based on our life experiences (what we see in the natural), we'll probably be unsure for most of our lives. This type of faith is, what Bob Beckwith once taught, "following Christianity as a theory rather than as the person of Jesus." It's enough to save you, but it's unlikely to bring you peace through the most difficult storms of life.
If you don't know in the deepest part of your heart that God is good, that's okay! It is okay to be exactly where you are in your process with God! Just be honest with yourself and be honest with God. :) In Psalm 34:8, the psalmist invites you to "Taste and see that the Lord is good." I make that same invitation because God will reveal His goodness to you if you seek Him wholeheartedly. He promises it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Seek Him in prayer and worship, and He will reveal Himself to you. It may take time, and it'll almost certainly take effort, but He keeps His promises. Keep seeking.
~ The Knowns About Healing ~
We know that God is a healer from His introduction in Exodus 15:26 ("I am the Lord, your healer"). God's identity as healer is a known.
We know that Jesus healed lots of times, and that Jesus said "I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38). So, it is God's will to heal.
More than either of the other truths, we need to hold fast to two truths about God's nature: God is good, and God is love. Holding onto these truths is essential when exploring the unknowns of how healing works.
~ The Unknowns About Healing ~
We don't know why healing happens sometimes but not other times.
We don't know why it happens in different timing than we were expecting.
We don't know if the next person we pray for will get healed.
We don't know if the healing will last.
I think that healing can be really hard to pursue because it's such a mystery. A favorite scheme of the enemy is to use those unknowns to get us to doubt God. If we doubt God enough, we stop talking to God. We stop asking Him to move. We choose hopelessness. I know it's easier said than done, but choose hope.
We follow a God who responds to prayer, so if you take a risk and pray for healing, the worst that can happen is nothing. The best that can happen is a healing and conversion from death to life. Really, instead of asking about the consequence of praying, we should ask: what is the consequence of not praying? God is on mission to save the world around you. If you want to see less sickness, partner with Jesus' vision for earth to look like it does in heaven.
If healing doesn't come, it isn't because of the person receiving prayer's lack of faith--I've heard of testimonies where the people who received prayer said "I don't believe in that stuff." Spoiler alert: they believed when the prayer was over. It also isn't tied to the prayer's faith in a way that can be reduced to a principle because there is one truth that surpasses any roadblocks to your healing: the Holy Spirit lives in you. Your lack of faith doesn't prevent God from moving.
We serve a good God who cares about us and responds to our needs. We don't, however, serve a God that we can control. Sometimes, what starts as a really genuine devotion to the Living God can turn into trying to make God do what we want.
In Skye Jethani's book, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, he calls this posture the Life Under God posture. On the surface, this approach sounds good and accurate. But when you pull the curtains back a little bit, sometimes this can turn into "I do the right thing, so God owes me blessing." From this point of view, we aren't actually under God at all. Instead, we're trying to control God with our rituals. (See image below.)
When healing does happen, give thanks to God! Yay! That's awesome! When healing doesn't happen, don't harden your heart. If you're angry at God, tell him, talk to Him about it. If you need to mourn with Him, let Him be your Comforter. Let Him in. He's not afraid of your emotions. Whatever you do, go to God.
God's answer to healing is always yes. Jesus paid for our full restoration on the cross, and that includes purchasing our glorified, fully healthy bodies. Healing was God's idea in the first place. God can't decide not to heal His children--He already purchased our healing on the cross. Healing may not happen immediately when we pray, and it may not even manifest in this lifetime, but God's healing will come. And the key to any kind of healing is God's presence. The best part of heaven will be God's presence. The best part of being on earth is that we can have access to God's manifest presence, but we must choose to seek it. In God's finished work, all things will be made new. If it's not good, God's not done.
Remember who God is, and love people. If you pray for healing, let it be because God loves them and because you love them, not just because you want a cool story. People are not just a mission for you to cross off your list. They are people who need to know that God loves them and cares enough to stop for them. And, if you pray for healing, regardless of what happens, make sure you communicate to them that God loves them. Because that is the most important thing.
Author | Andrew Elder