I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.(Ephesians 1:16-17 NLT)
“God wants you well. God wants you prosperous. God wants you a whole person.”Oral Roberts
An old friend of mine went to be with the Lord almost two years ago. He was a bit shy of his seventieth birthday, so it was a little early. He was a good man, and a beloved husband and father. He served as a pastor for almost 40 years. In addition, he believed in divine healing and was a man of faith. Just a few days before he left this earth, he made a brief video for his congregation. It was very moving. In that video, he emphatically said,” God didn’t do this!” It was important to him that no one blame God for his illness or his death. He knew it is God’s perfect will that he be healed.
This reminded me once again of what I believe is a “hole” in our doctrine. In fact, that is exactly what the Spirit of God said to me: “You have a hole in your doctrine concerning healing.” I knew what He meant. I had been laboring over several cases where an individual whom I knew to be a wonderful Christian, who was grounded in the Word of faith, and who to all intents and purposes appeared to be walking in their faith, succumbed to disease and went to Heaven early. When those things happen, we often sweep honest questions under the rug. We apply denial, call it faith, and move on. Unfortunately, we have left many hurting people in our dust as we scurry away from their pain.
When things don’t go the way our “faith” would dictate, we get religious. Often, the best we can do is apply the standard Christian veneer, “he is in Heaven and happy now.” Some attribute various motives to God in “taking him.” Or maybe, “Well, he is healed now isn’t he?” For those of us who believe it is God’s will to heal all, we are left with a couple of really legalistic options. “His faith was just not strong enough,” or maybe,” She didn’t listen to enough healing tapes or make enough positive confessions”. We can even choose to blame ourselves or the church, “If we had just interceded more.” Of course, some have the go-to position of all good Pharisees: “There must have been something wrong in her life.”
Balderdash! God isn’t randomly picking some to heal and some to die, then leaving us to labor to discern His reasoning or grudgingly accept His caprice. And He certainly isn’t killing people for having some hidden sin in their lives. If He were, the morgues would be stacked to the ceiling. And, for all us faith zealots, He has not established some magic formula whereby we can earn our healing by reciting enough verses or enduring enough preaching. Works is works no matter who establishes them, and works never works.
My belief in the will of God to heal is unshakeable. I have been healed of so many things I lose count. I have prayed for folks who experienced documented healings. Most importantly, I see it in the Bible. Yet my most difficult moments are in trying to comfort those who have lost a loved one or encourage those facing a deadly diagnosis. They feel many understandable emotions: guilt, anger, despair, fear, etc. How could God allow this? Did I do something wrong? What else could I have done? Is God really who I thought He was? If He let grandma die, can I believe Him in my battle? You get the point.
My heart’s desire is to have substantive, compassionate answers for those faced with terrible loss and disappointment when healing doesn’t come. I also want to have input beyond memorized formulas that will help people receive the healing God wants for them. I want you to be healed. As a good place to start, here are some things I know beyond a doubt. You can bank on the fact that:
- God didn’t do it. John 10:10
- We live in a cursed world because of Adam. Romans 5:12
- We don’t know everything. 1 Corinthians 13:12
- God will give us more wisdom if we ask. Ephesians 1:16-18
- We live on what we do know and trust the rest to God. Deuteronomy 29:29
“Gee, some things we just don’t know,” may seem cold comfort when in the throes of grief or serious illness. In those times, the best we can do is pray, make ourselves available, and try to avoid giving them our canned theological interpretation of their tragedy. Save your preaching, give your compassion. Listen to what they say and locate where they are, then speak into the need if you know how. If they are able to hear, give them prayer that is not a recitation but an inspiration. Carry them on your faith until theirs can be shored up. I believe God wants us to get better at finding the best responses to the needs of people. Let’s let God fill in the holes in our doctrine.
Next Step: For the next week, pray for yourself each day. Ask God to give you wisdom and understanding concerning His will and plan for healing. You can use Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse as a template:
Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that you give me complete knowledge of your will and give me spiritual wisdom and understanding. Let the way I live always honor and please you, and let my life produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, I will grow as I learn to know God better and better. I also pray that I be strengthened with all your glorious power so I will have all the endurance and patience I need. I will be filled with joy, always thanking the Father, who has enabled me to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light.(Adapted from Colossians 1:9-12 NLT)