A dear friend is fighting for his life. He has not been conscious since Friday. It is still touch and go. Prayer meetings have been organised. Many are praying. He is one of those special people who has touched many lives. He is husband and father. He is young. There is every reason for God to heal him and extend his life. And so God’s people pray for God to heal. But to pray for healing is to bring us into a place of serious tension.
On one hand God commands us to pray for healing. Indeed the command is linked with promises that God will raise the person to life.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. (James 5:13–15 NIV)
But the Bible record also shows that not all are healed or healed in ways we understand. The apostle Paul who had been used by the Lord to do great miracles also has this to say at the end of 2 Timothy.
I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. (2 Timothy 4:20b NIV)
What we are guaranteed is complete healing in the new heavens and the new earth.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1–4 NIV)
But this state of affairs lies in the future. So we have to learn to live with tension.
Christ has come. He has accomplished all that is needed for salvation and healing on the Cross when He died for us. He has returned to the right-hand side of the Father. He will come again to usher in the new heaven and the new earth. So we know for sure how things will pan out. We know what the last chapter looks like. But we are a number of chapters before the last chapter. So what do we do in the meantime? We do what we have been told to do. We pray.
We do not pray with desperation, like the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel (1 Kings 18) thinking that the more emotional we get the more chances we will make God make an appearance. Our God is not like that. We do not need to twist His arm to act in love and power. He is our loving Abba who loves us and our friends more than we can ever do.
He is a God who invites us to participate in His purposes. And so we pray in faith, not faith in faith but faith in a God who has revealed Himself in Christ and the Word, a God who tells us not to worry but to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:24–34).
God you are on your throne. You know what you are doing though sometimes we don’t. But we will not fail you or our friend. We will keep on praying. We will remain in the place of tension.