Why are some people healed, and others not?
For me, this is definitely the most challenging question that we get asked. It is one that I live with the reality of myself.
When I was 11 my mother died from ovarian cancer, she was a Christian and was 36. My father and I struggled with her dying so young. I wanted her to be healed and the challenge for me is that it seemed wrong that she wouldn’t be healed, and somehow in the midst of that she passed to glory.
It says in Romans 8:28 ‘all things work together for good to those who love God and work according to his purposes’. I say this with all gentleness, because I understand that I would hate a quick Bible verse to be thrown at me.
One of the things I would caution against is this. It is never right to suggest that a sick person doesn’t have enough faith that they haven’t been healed because of a lack of faith. This is unloving and untrue.
In Psalm 23 it says ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil’. You have to realise to have a shadow to exist there has to be a light on the other side. It is the realisation of the light that gives me strength.
There are many people who have prayed for healing, or are waiting for healing who have experienced an array of things that probably should not be said to them. What would you say if it was suggested that a lack of forgiveness was the reason for their prayer being unanswered?
I would say that was total nonsense. I would say that God does not make people ill because they don’t forgive people. People don’t get ill because there is a lack of forgiveness in their lives. I would say that a lot of the times Christians don’t know how to speak to someone who is ill and aren’t getting better.
We don’t know how to deal with unanswered prayer. So what we do is create little theories for ourselves that help us feel better. We then lay them on other people so we can walk away feeling satisfied that I’ve delivered my 'little word'. It’s an easy cop out to throw out a Bible verse or some sort of loosely thought through theory into a situation that is incredibly complex and incredibly sad.
If someone has spoken that over your lives today, don’t accept it. It is not true. God is a God of love. God is with us on the journey. God is there for us. I don’t have the answer of why people get healed and sometimes they do not. But God does not punish people. God is not withholding healing because you have got some unforgiven person you have to find. Most Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer in a pretty normal regular basis, most of us live with the reality of we need to forgive and we forgive all the time. Nowhere does it say if you don’t forgive you will get ill.
There is evidence in the Old Testament that sickness is related to sin. Is there any basis that unconfessed sin could hinder prayers for healing?
We have to realise that in the New Testament that Jesus healed sinners.
That’s a really big question, but I think we have to realise that Jesus prayed for loads of people who were sinners. Jesus reached out to and touched people who were sinners, so when I look at that in the light of the new covenant. I cannot see that at all. I see that Jesus was always there.
I have actually seen people on the streets of Ibiza who were full on drunk, partying hard, well into sin, get prayed for and get healed. So I can’t correlate sin and illness like that. I believe God is a god who reaches beyond that and is a God of compassion, a God of grace, a God of kindness.