Sickness and disease in the body tells us that there is something wrong with the world we live in. We do not accept our brokenness as normal – we fight back against the perennial deterioration of the body and mind; we will even apply cream to fight wrinkles! Clearly, we do not go silently. And we will do what might seem absurd: We will pray for healing. But not like your evening news anchor who invokes the sentimental, “they are in our thoughts and prayers,” as a tag at the end of a sad story. No, we will pray to a real person who hears and answers prayer according to what is not only best for us, but what is the best way to display his grace and mercy in our lives.
As our family and friends wait for news this day on whether the radiation had some success in treating my father’s liver cancer, I want to be encouraged by answering my own questions:
To whom did I pray over the past months? I prayed to the one who created me and sent his son to rescue me from my sins and the consequences of my sins:
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples mad by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything . . . he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man who he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:24-25, 31). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us . . . creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption . . . we ourselves, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies . . . the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:18, 21, 23, 26).
What is prayer? It is the yearning of the soul that speaks to him who made us. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being . . . to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:14-16, 19-21)
What can I expect? I may expect one of three things when praying for healing:
1. Healing without medicinal intervention. Jesus may heal outright with a command that reverses the effects and consequences of living in a fallen, sinful world (Luke 5:17-26; Acts 5:12-16).
2. Healing with medicinal intervention. Jesus may use the things of the earth to signify that healing often comes by means (John 9:1-7; 1 Timothy 5:23).
3. Healing that comes after death, but not until then (2 Cor. 12:9-11). Jesus promises to make all things new for those who love him. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Which means that for those who know the Lord, the answer is emphatically, “you will be healed of all your diseases.” It’s just a matter of time!
Is this real and how do I know?
1. It is an inherent desire among humans to be rid of all sickness and death. Let Darwin die with his lie that weakness leading to death is a “natural part of the evolutionary process of producing a stronger race.” Fiddlesticks!
2. People are healed and are healing all around us. If you think this is just coincidence, you should consider the stunning odds that more of us are not in the hospital or dead, considering the massive amount of ways the body can just shut down and die at any moment. The one who holds the universe in his hands is holding your breath this very moment.
3. Because there is on record, with full disclosure and eye-witnesses who gave their lives to say so, that Jesus was crucified, buried, and on the third day rose again from the grave. Since this is true, the one who is in Christ can mock death and all that threatens death: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law (meaning, the consequence of loving sin over Christ is the penalty of death. But Jesus died a sinless man and therefore his Father acquitted all who love his son, freeing them from the law’s penalty), but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54b-57).
I wait with hope in God!