Why do we have to deal with suffering? Why aren’t we miraculously healed when we pray for healing? Didn’t Jesus say, “Ask anything in my name and it shall be given you”? So are we not healed due to a lack of faith or the right prayers?
What Jesus did say was: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) He also said “… and I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:13-14)
John later wrote, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (I John 5:14) And therein lies the key – asking in God’s will. But that begs the question… what is God’s will?
My husband, Ed, and I have traveled a long road with his disabilities. We’ve been told to pray and fast for healing, and trust that he will be healed. It sounds so easy, but a cure has not come. We have even been told it was our fault that he has not been healed because we did not pray right. Although I would never want to destroy a prayer of hope, the Bible does not teach that we can manipulate God into doing what we want just by saying the right words or having "enough" faith.
With his long-term illness, disabilities, and pain, my husband and I have wondered what’s wrong with us that healing has passed us by. Intimations by well-meaning friends that healing is simply for the asking has devastating effects, including guilt. While the “well” person can walk away emotionally and physically intact, how do we handle the seemingly raw deal we’ve been dealt?
Personally, I think it takes a deeper faith to move forward without obvious answers and healing. Maybe there really is a purpose in our suffering. As we read in James, we are to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4). For “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial." (vs.12) Once upon a time I did not understand that concept and reacted poorly to adversity. Yet, even in that, I am not alone.
Paralyzed from the neck down after a shallow dive soon after graduating from high school, Joni Eareckson Tada initially reacted negatively. She expected answers to prayers for miraculous healing. But healing never came. Disappointed and discouraged, she finally came to terms with accepting her disability. She has seen God work by changing her heart instead, and she praises God for the blessing her ministry has been in transforming the lives of others.
Despite his multitudinous losses of family and personal property, Job did not sin in his quest for answers. Learning of his losses, he worshipped God saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21b) He did not blame or curse God. But, in questioning God, and hearing the Almighty’s queries of him, Job acknowledged an understanding of where he fit in the overall scheme of life. . . and that God was in control. And God eventually blessed him even more than before. I am impressed with Job’s humility as he learned to fully trust our loving, all-knowing and powerful God.
In unbelievable circumstances that I can’t comprehend, others have struggled to regain normalcy after devastating losses, knowing their life will never be the same. I’m sure they wish their life stories were different. But, God knows why life has its rough roads. He knows our story from start to finish. (Psalm 139: 13-16) He hears our cries and pleadings. And, though God seems silent at times, I’m reassured by Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
As God draws us into a closer relationship with Him on a path we don’t like, Ed and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b) We understand the redemptive quality which pain and difficulty can bring to our lives. As Philip Yancey put it so well, “We’re concerned with how things turn out; God is more concerned with how we turn out.” (“The Question That Never Goes Away – Why?”, p.105)
When there are no answers to pleas for healing, may you, too, feel the Lord’s loving arms gently holding you with a comfort and peace only He can give. May you feel His strength enable you to finish well the path He’s allowed you to walk. And, may you know His answer will yet be coming in His time…though maybe not until you stand face to face with Him. And may we each be found worthy at the end of our journey.
Attached below is a poem I wrote called "Answers."