When God doesn’t answer your prayers for healing

I’d never done an ugly cry in front of teenagers, until last Sunday at church. It was a personal best on the cringe-o-meter.

I get to lead Teen Church every five or six weeks. We’re doing the Alpha Youth film series. Our youth pastor, Jason, (randomly? I think not.) delegates topics and a bunch of us take turns to facilitate the discussion. I’ve covered some easy-peasy topics, like How To Read Your Bible.

And then I get saddled with this:

Does God Still Heal Today?

I’m a little furious. Like,

Jason are you kidding? Are you kidding me? You want me to teach on healing?

Because I’m the mom of the kid who needs healing and healing hasn’t happened. We’ve prayed. Nada. Other people have prayed. Zilch. Still others have anointed Cameron with oil resulting in exactly zero healing. We’ve been to big loud healing gigs. We’ve stood up in church. We’ve wracked out our angry grief at night in bed clutching hands and bits of sanity. We’ve fasted and begged, Come on, God! You’d get so much glory from this!

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Anyhoo.

I watch the clip at home in the week, to prepare. I sob from start to finish. Good, I think. Have a good cry. Get it all out. That way, you’ll be fine on the day. I gather my thoughts and beliefs, my sketchy bits of faith and truth and mystery and I come up with something I’m fairly comfortable with, on healing. On how God can heal. And how mostly He doesn’t.

Sunday comes and I’m all about the jokes and being the warm welcome and there’s even a bit of a thaw in the too-cool-for-Sunday-school room.

And then we watch the clip. Which I’ve seen before, so I’m fine, right? I’m s w a l l o w i n g .. the tears .. and yelling at myself on the inside to bloody well pull myself together because the two lovely Canadian Alpha guys are wrapping up and I need to be the grownup with the answers in about five, four, three, two –

I stand up, and fall apart.

It’s not that my voice is a little shaky and I’m a little tearful. Hell no.

I can’t speak.

I’m bawling. Embarrassing, snotty sobs. (I will only realise, when it’s all over and I go to the ladies’ room, that I have what Murray calls my Alice Cooper Eyes: seriously scary mascara damage.)

Some of the girls get a little tearful too. Most of the boys stare at their feet and the air is thick with cringe. My friend Dave who’s sharing the session with me – he’s standing at the back. He takes one look at me and closes his eyes. He’s feeling it for me – praying hard – because he knows.

I howl through a bit of our uninspiring non-healing story then ask if anyone here has ever been healed? Praise Jesus, one of the guys has a miracle story about his shin and a youth camp and I have time to blow my nose.

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Eventually I get enough words together to tell them what I do know, and in no particular order here it is:

We don’t pray for healing enough.

Maybe because we can’t bear the not-enough-faith guilt or the disappointment of our prayers ‘not working’ so we’d rather not pray in the first place. Maybe because too many shady pseudo-Christians have fake-healed too many times. Maybe because we don’t want to treat the Creator of the universe like a genie in a bottle, there to do our bidding, ease our pain, and give us our way.

Yet,

We should pray for healing, because God heals and because He’s never told us to stop praying for healing.

He heals in might and power. He takes away cancer and AIDS and holes in babies’ hearts. He fixed my friend’s finger when she cut it: she prayed, and watched the skin close right over. True story.

We should pray for healing as fervently as we pray for wisdom – with absolute assurance that God hears and answers according to His perfect will.

We are called to live by faith.

It takes great faith to trust that God can / does / will heal. It takes great faith to trust that if / when / because He doesn’t heal, every time, He is still infinitely good, kind, wise and powerful.2016-05-20 19.23.14.jpg

We don’t give God His power.

God isn’t dependent on our fickle faith to do His work. He doesn’t wring His hands in heaven going, ‘Oh! All the healing power has gone out of Me because they don’t have enough faith!’ He heals to bolster our faith, more than because of it. He heals even when no one knows and no one is looking, and sometimes – most times? – often times? – He lets brokenness run its course.

I have no idea why.

God invented decision-making and He doesn’t owe us an explanation for His perfect decisions.

John tells us that at the pool of Bethesda, in Jerusalem, there were ‘crowds of sick people – blind, lame, or paralysed.’ Yet Jesus went up to just one man – one man amidst swarms of the sick and the dying – and He healed him.

Jesus didn’t explain why He picked that one man. He didn’t owe His disciples or anyone else an explanation. He doesn’t owe me an explanation either, no matter how sad, cross or confused I may feel.

God has been deciding things since forever. He chose fever trees – not fir trees – to grow in Africa. He chose Abraham’s family – not some other family – to bless the whole world. He chose Moses – not some other guy – to lead His people out of Egypt. All this has never bothered me, because it’s never been personal.

Yet my Heavenly Father is intensely, intimately personal to me. His power that split the sea and raised the dead is alive in me. However He chooses to reveal Himself through me, to the world, well, I’m ok with that. Mostly.

Healing gives us a Kingdom glimpse.

God’s Kingdom is Now and Not Yet. We’re in a glorious dispensation of grace and Holy Spirit power – but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. When God heals, it’s a tangible manifestation of what He does on the insides of us – total renewal – and an electrifying reminder of the eternal realities that await. I say, bring it.

So, God might heal our boy in this life. For sure, He will heal him in the next.

I’ll keep asking for the former, but my faith doesn’t hinge on the answer.

Either way, I have reason to sing.

. . .

It would totally make my week if you leave a comment, get in touch here, tweet me, join our Facebook community or sign up to get these posts by email. Please share this post if you think it may encourage someone you love.

Alongside and cheering for you, friend, in this happy, sometimes crappy, beautiful life,

Dalene

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59 comments

  1. Raw and ripped my heart out just a bit this morning. Almost an ugly cry in Tashas. Dalene this is so real and so deep and so moving I can’t add anything but love

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  2. So close to my home at the moment Deleen. Thank you for talking directly to me and I will be sure that Emily reads this amazing testimony. You are an example of all going through hard ships.

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  3. You said it all so beautifully, absolutely truthfully. We all feel like that some times but continue to wait upon the Lord to do the healing in HIS time and MUST keep praying like NON-STOP! But how do we pray for a non believer who is very ill? The same. I am not here to judge and He will do the work in His perfect will and this may be the time for her to get to know God. We continue to pray much for Cam’s healing.lots of love.xxx
    P.S. God made those tears and they were meant to be for a reason which probably touched many hearts.

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  4. Thank you Dalene. I sometimes think one has to walk a path of suffering, picking your way through the debris of shattered dreams and unanswered prayers and keep going despite the absence of that “aaaaah!” moment of relief, before you can start to grasp this three-word concept:
    God is Sovereign!
    Bless you
    Derek

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  5. Thank you for this Dalene. You have me in tears. I’m so sorry for the pain you’re carrying, but so thankful that God is holding you close and that you are choosing to encourage us through it.

    Oh how this comes close to home here too. My Mum went home to heaven after a five-month battle with brain cancer in 2014 (59 years old), then someone who has been through enough loss, and is so very close to my heart, gave birth to her baby boy at 17 weeks gestation, knowing he’d never take one breath. Prayers for healing? Many. But the healing was reserved for heaven. Sadder (and deeply upsetting) still in the second case is she was promised healing when prayed over at church…exactly the same weekend my heart was so heavy with grief, sensing hope was now reserved for heaven…but I kept my mouth shut for fear of removing the hope she clung to for earthly healing (lesson learned).

    My heart echoes so much of what you share. I do not fully understand the why’s, but I am seeing God move in and through the grief of my Mum’s passing…and trust that He is holding the one I love in His hands, and her little man in heaven, together with my Mum.

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  6. My sister is 32 and will be finding out at the end of this week if she must have a full hysterectomy. She believes she has met her future husband, the man she wants to father her children…On top of that she is bi-polar. Presently, she is not saved. She wants a visible miracle to choose God- not realising that God has already chosen her and is working on her. Being on the outside I see many miracles in her life. *She has not succeeded in committing suicide. *Her boyfriend though he has backslid tremendously, he is saved. *She witnessed the births of her niece and nephew, whom adore her etc. Yes, she is having a crappy life but I keep reminding her to look for the flowers. Nothing can live if something doesn’t die. There is so much beauty around us that we don’t see because our eyes are set on one bad thing. Yes, ask God to heal your son but also ask God to heal you. To open your eyes to the beauty of what you are missing out on. Don’t ask God why, ask Him: ‘What can i do for You’. I pray this for you and for my sister.

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  7. Thank you Dalene. What a great answer for my prayers. I will keep praying for my son for God to heal him. Love Elmarie from South Africa

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  8. Dalene, thank you for your touching raw honesty. I loved your book, for in it I recognised the results of the refiners fire. Pain is an amazing door, it lays hold of you with brutal force it demands a response. Your journey is a wonderful encouragement, your words and experiences are real. There is so much to learn in surrendering, so much to gain in accepting may your life continue to bless and encourage us on our journey. God’s richest blessings to you and your family!

    Kathy Lithgow

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  9. Ag Dalene!! Bless you. I was sitting next to my son last night praying (just for a cold and sore throat) but was struggling with exactly this question: Should I still pray and what if I am too sleepy to pray the correct prayer and is my faith strong enough and if not how will I ever pray for the big stuff.

    Bless you. Tears here and at Elize’s too. Love you.

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  10. Oh Wow Dalene, such an honest gut-wrenching post that hits home in most of us in some way or another! So many times there has been for me a healing inside rather than with the actual circumstances outside – thank you so much for your inspiring posts!

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  11. Shoo Dee. Had to read this a couple of times. Will probably still read it a couple more. Very challenging for me – thanks for sharing so beautifully, as always.

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  12. I just bawled with you…..Those tears are so packed with emotions. Thank goodness God forces them out sometimes. Thank you for your heart, thank you for your words. You help us breathe.

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  13. Dalene, you are truly anointed by God. I love the way you write. Thank you for blessing us all with your tremendous gift!

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  14. Oh my word … And how I did the ugly cry myself today!!! Mostly for your sake 💔( and lucky for me I only had little Isabella as a witness;)

    Thank you for your honest sharing. I so admire your courage and your faith….don’t have all the words to describe what my heart feels for you ..Only for you to know that you and Murray and your boys are such an inspiration. And give courage to so many others. Much love and we keep in praying for you!!

    Ps. I shared your post ” 7 tips for dealing with partially sighted people” , with another mommy who’s little one ( now 1 year old) is also on a similar journey the morning of their most recent examination by Dr Pauw in theatre – she replied after reading: “thank you , you have just given me courage!” The boy is one of twins. His twin sister perfect but he also had cataracts in both eyes.

    Pps. wanted to share this note from the therapy centre in Lynwood . Not sure by now what u know and don’t know ,but just thought I’d send this as a prompt should you need to investigate further or even wanted to possibly attend the session. I just know that tax and rebates etc was furthest from my mind around Isabella’s therapy and medical care to date . It would remain something that we would not even have considered if we did not get this notice from them. 😉 note attached

    Pps. 😜….. “Oceans – where my feet my fall”… My most favorite song … Often brings the ugly cry out of me too 😉

    Take care and sleep well xxx

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • Thanks Elize!! Greatly appreciate you sharing in the ugly crying, ha ha! 🙂 Sending you much love and grateful thanks for your amazing encouragement… Chat soon. x

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  15. I think you were the Dalene (Smith?) who taught me at Cornwall…I have been hopping from illness to illness, not necessarily content in my suffering, but content to suffer as I truly believe it will lead to glorifying God. God has performed miraculous healing in me before…and I know He will again. But I was diagnosed with an apparently “lifelong” condition in February this year. Every word God gives me is full of promise for complete restoration & healing, but when people pray (& we do fervently & often) it appears that nothing has happened. Your words have inspired me because it has reminded me about an eternity perspective (yet again) & that “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. I will pray for your child & sincerely hope the situation improves.

    Tracey Wilson.

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  16. Healing remains a mystery to me. I always tell people it’s not “can he?” But it’s “will he?
    After my father struggled and died of cancer at the age of 46 my faith ebbed. Then my son was born 9 years later with severe birth defects. I didn’t even wanna pray for fear my prayers wouldn’t be answered. That’s when God took me on a journey to show me his power. Not once but three times my son was healed miraculously. And astounded doctors. He’s 26 now. He still has severe scoliosis and I continue to pray for healing. And although I don’t see it in the physical realm I continue to know and believe he’s healed in the eternal. However god reminds me often that my son still has a good life and can do most anything he likes. And on days his back is tight he will text me for prayer. And I pray again for healing knowing that one day God will make the crooked places straight!

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  17. Hey Sis, your Boet read your article, so that should actually make your Month! You are awesome and are truly and inspiration to so many out there. never underestimate your abilities even if they don’t work out the way you planned them to.

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  18. We also have a journey with our Jason. He went to hospital at age 1 with brongitis. He came out 3 months later with brain damage and 50% hearing loss. We prayed and he did not die. He proved therapists wrong and can sit, crawl and we use sign language. But life is a rollercoaster. One day you are the fixer, the next day you ask questions and then you are angry. When he kisses you, and achieves something you to the praise dance – to others its not that big of a deal. What I have learned is that there is no easy answers to tough questions and that God is God and I am not. I know He healsbecause I have seen it. I still dare to believe.

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  19. I love this, sometimes it really gets hard when we start to question why not me or why do i have to go through this…Sunday we actually heard about this in Church, Matthew 9, where among all the sick. lame etc. Jesus saw this mans faith and told the Paralyzed man he was forgiven, get up and walk…and he did. Though Jesus is living in us and we are able to do all things, we have to continuously believe and renew our faith.
    We are believing and trusting for so much in mine and my family’s life, and God’s timing is not our own…mostly, he’s doing so much in our life that we don’t see as obvious or isn’t what we want but he has his own plans for our lives and we have to pray and maintain faith throughout.

    Thoughts and prayers are with you!

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  20. wow awesome testimony and YES ….. God got the Glory coz you have touched so many lives with this testimony. Gives us hope to carry on praying even though we don’t see results in the natural God is working behind the scenes no matter what our faith!!
    I have prayed for friends with terminal diseases who passed away and boy did that cut deep but Gods ways are not our ways and I have to constantly remind myself of that!! Be blessed in all you do 🙂

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  21. Thank you for sharing this so openly. I read it to my family after our supper tonight. I think your openness will touch and encourage many ‘ordinary people serving an extra ordinary God’. Life does not always turn out how we want it, but God remains God and we continue to trust him. We continue to pray for you guys.

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  22. Hi Dalene

    Thanks for your insight and perspective through your article on healing since I have also asked the same questions as you and wrestled with some of it.

    I came across a very informative book by a medical doctor based on the Word of God about healing which have not only answered my questions but changed how I look at healing.

    The author’s name is Dr. Michelle Strydom from Zimbabwe and a lot of her work has been inspired and based on the work of Dr. Caroline Leaf and Pastor Henry Wright. The book’s name is “Healing begins with sanctification of the heart” and is available as a free pdf download from her website

    http://www.eagleswings.co.zw/

    Hope you will find it as insightful as I did.

    Blessings
    Rynie (South Africa)

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  23. Day after day I pray in therapy, trusting God or miracles. And I do see miracles … children who progress way faster than expected, or my ability allows. But, I am dissatisfied, and have been ever so much the last week again, yearning not for quick progress, but for complete healing … and still, I cry out, I long for, I wait … and not yet. But, the knowledge remains, God is good, God is love, and in Him I rejoice! Thank you for this stunning blog. It really lifted my faith today! Anri-Louise

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  24. Dear Dalene….I was so touched by your moving testimony concerning God and healing. I did full-time pastoring for 33 years and this issue was probably the most difficult for me to encounter. My heart goes out to you and to so many people in similar situations. I have witnessed a number of miraculous healings but I
    have seen many, many people not receive healing in this life. I have arrived at some conclusions about this very sensitive issue and wish I had all the answers. May the Lord bless you richly in ways that you have never experienced Him before. Love and fondest greetings to you.

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