As I write this letter, one of my dearest friends is being called home after a long illness, and another friend who is only forty-four years old is struggling with terminal cancer. In both instances, many of us have been praying for—and with—these people for healing. And yet no healing has come.
As sad as this can be, I am convinced that my friends’ illnesses are not a matter of weakness on God’s part. Over and over again, Scripture affirms that he is a God of miracles. Does that mean, then, that it’s a matter of weak faith on our part? Well, we know that Jesus healed a blind man even though at the time the man didn’t believe in him (John 9:6). On the other hand, the lack of faith of his fellow Nazarenes kept Jesus from performing many miracles (Mark 6:1-5). Then, to complicate matters even more, Jesus taught us that our heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11), but he also told us to carry our crosses (16:24).
So what can we say? That divine healing is a mystery. We simply cannot fathom the mind of God. We know that God doesn’t always respond to our prayers in the way we want. In fact, he frequently allows circumstances to unfold that we wish never happened. This is his sovereign right. He can exercise his rule over creation according to his will (Psalm 50:11-12; 115:3). So if he chooses to veil the reason why he does some things, and if his wisdom disagrees with ours, we may not see our prayers answered as we hope they will be.
The Mystery of Faith. In the end, God asks us to have faith—the faith that brings healing and the faith that trusts in his love and wisdom. Faith means being certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). It means embracing the sufficiency of God’s grace in all circumstances, trusting that his power "is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Given the mysteries surrounding divine healing, how should we respond? By praying for healing over and over again; by never losing hope, never giving up, and never resigning ourselves to a life of suffering. We should keep on praying, even to the very last minute, knowing that "the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful" (James 5:16).
I know this firsthand. Eighteen years ago, my daughter, Christine, lost both her eyes to cancer. Even though she has been blind for so long, I am not giving up hope. I am still praying that God would heal her because I want her to see, and I know God will give good things to us—even if we can’t see their goodness right away.
In this New Year’s issue of The Word Among Us, we want to encourage you to pray for healing—physical healing and inner healing. Never give up praying. Never lose faith in God. Job waited a long time; the hemorrhaging woman waited for twelve whole years. The man at the pool of Bethsaida waited thirty-eight years. Paul prayed repeatedly, but he never was healed of that thorn in his side. But he kept praying. So be persistent in calling out to the Lord. And be faithful to the gospel! May we all see a multitude of healings in this new year.