How do we handle it when God doesn’t answer prayer the way we want Him to or when we pray for someone to be healed and they die? When you pray for healing and it doesn’t come, it can be heart-crushing. After all, we know God says He is a Healer. We have no doubt He has the power and the ability to heal. So, how do you handle it when you ask for healing and He doesn’t do it? Geez. I know I’ve been there.
In fact, being there recently is why I posted this REAL look at how I reconcile God answering prayers His way and not my way. Listen. I’ve lived long enough to know that life is not really about what I want when I want it. The truth of the matter is that most of the time, I don’t even know what I want or what I need.
For example, I can remember a time when I wanted to remain in a relationship that wasn’t good for me, but God removed me from it, and it was in my best interest.
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Hypothetically speaking, I could pray for someone to do one thing or experience another, but the wisdom of Heaven knows that answering my request could be detrimental to that person or to God’s best for that person.
Who am I to question the wisdom of the Creator of the universe? I am like a small droplet in the infinite ocean.
Through my explorations and myriad experiences, I have learned to humbly accept what is, to grasp that my worldview is limited and that the ultimate truth often eludes my human comprehension. That is a fancy way of saying, I know nothing. I’m an idiot when compared to the vast knowledge of the Lord.
So are you.
The mysteries of existence and the laws governing the universe all surpass our finite intellect. In this humility, I reside, acknowledging the power and grandeur of the One who has shaped every atom, star, and facet of our reality. I choose to place my trust in His higher wisdom and seek to live in harmony with His laws that govern the universe, knowing that my understanding is finite, but my faith runs deep.
Remember this: When you pray for healing it doesn’t come.
When you pray for healing and it doesn’t come…what next?
Do we grow bitter? Do we stop following the Lord? What do we do?
I’ll tell you what I have done.
Let me share how I reconciled my own loss.
Often, I think of my brother, who passed away far too young. For most of my life, he lived a very rough existence. The almost magnetic lure of street life appealed to him as it does so many young African-American men. He didn’t sell drugs, but he drank, smoked weed, and lived the “partying” life young people like to do and on top of all that, he had been diagnosed with mental illness. To be such a sweet guy, he had a hard time.
This being so, one of the things I often worried about was someone hurting him out there.
Like many women of my culture, I often dreaded a heart-wrenching phone call alerting me that he had been shot or injured. He wasn’t very street-smart, and I worried about the friends he chose to hang with and what their foul lives might expose him to. I worried about him all the time. I was too young to be so worried.
It was like an emotional prison…
Dread is such a horrible state of being.
It’s like living with a 10000-pound anchor on your back 24 hours a day.
You’re carrying its weight all of the time.
Whether you’re driving to work or hanging out with friends, the weight of the sense of fear presses down on every part of your being.
It robs you of life’s simplicity and joy.
It’s so hard to indeed be free to enjoy one’s life when one is always scared of what may happen in the next moment.
That’s the sort of burden I had for my brother. It started when I was about ten, and I carried it into my 20s.
I guess it was because he was so precious to me.
This is the brother I grew up with.
Of all my siblings, he was the closest to me in age. The rest were so many older folks who thought they were my dad.
But this brother was my friend.
We rode bikes together. We played games together. We experienced many of the same childhood memories together.
Are you old enough to remember Saturday morning cartoons airing?
Anyhow, on Saturday mornings, we watched cartoons together while eating big bowls of soggy, sugar-filled cereal. It was the life. While my parents slept in, enjoying the Saturday freedom to sleep in a bit, my brother and I were arguing over cartoons only to relent to one another, so each of us got to enjoy a little of what we wanted.
Yes, while I love all of my brothers, this one was particularly close to me.
Can you see why I worried about him often?
Siblings often share an unbreakable bond due to the countless shared experiences and memories they accumulate over the years.
These connections run deep and can be attributed to various factors.
According to studies like the one by Dunn and Kendrick (1982) on sibling relationships, siblings like my brother and I tend to spend more time with each other during childhood, fostering camaraderie.
Additionally, they often go through similar life stages and face common challenges, which creates a unique understanding and support system.
Siblings can be your partners in crime, confidants, and lifelong friends, making the bond they share truly special. That’s what we had.
The dreaded call I worried about eventually came.
One day in my early twenties, I did get a dismaying call.
“Eric is dead,” said my older brother in one heart-wrenching sentence. My knees felt weak.
My first thought was he had died in some horrible, painful way. A thousand thoughts, questions, and possibilities flooded my brain.
The next sentence was, “It was a heart attack!”
A what? I thought. He was only 33. It didn’t make sense.
Eric had always had health problems, and some of his habits – like smoking didn’t help, I’m sure.
Either way, my brother was gone.
I’m still talking about when you pray for healing and it doesn’t come.
While thinking about him, a strange gratitude came over me one day.
To be clear, if I had my choice, I definitely would want him here with me. However, there was some small comfort in knowing no one took his life away in violence or hatred.
For that, I thanked God and found a degree of peace with my loss. Praise replaced some of the sadness.
This will sound very strange to some people.
But, I am so glad he left the earth in the way that he did – gently and peacefully.
I often wonder if he had lived longer, would a worse fate have found him? Trust me, on the path he was taking – it was very likely.
Could his departure …at that time and in that way…have been a sign of Grace and protection?
What if God knew that the enemy had horrible plans for my brother, and he decided, “No! You will not do that to him!” And as a result, the Lord took him in the sweetest way He could.
I know this is all supposition—the musings of a woman who still feels the pangs of sorrow and loss to this very day.
Why, Lord, Why?
Isn’t it funny how we often want to understand why things happen?
Clearly, my theory is not definite or specific. Yet, knowing that God is in control gives me some peace.
He has a plan, and He ALWAYS has a strategy.
He does the things He does for reasons we would likely NEVER be able to comprehend on this side of heaven.
On the other hand, I think we could understand some of the things He does. However, we’re just not privy to that information. It’s not for us to know. This is where faith comes in.
We trust Him because He knows and sees what we cannot.
We trust God and know that He has our best interests at heart.
Back to the subject of this blog post– when you pray for healing and it doesn’t come
Not long ago, I prayed God would heal a child, and she passed away; I can’t be angry at God. I was so disappointed for the family’s loss. It hurt so badly to hear God’s decision because it wasn’t my own desired outcome. Yet again, we see in part.
What about my cousin, who died violently? How do I reconcile that?
I don’t. I can’t. As I said earlier, I really have no answers. I’m just sharing my heart with you and my thoughts in the event it can bring some sort of comfort your way.
One thing I know. I know the Lord knows so much more than I know, and His ways are so much higher than mine.
When you pray for healing, and it doesn’t come – you trust the God you sing about and say you trust.
That’s it. We trust Him.
As for me, I declare I will trust the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ to the best of my ability.
Sometimes, it takes me a while to get to the place of authentic, comprehensive trust.
That’s okay, though. He is long-suffering and patient toward me. He can handle my questions.
In the end, His judgments are sure, and so are his decisions.
He knows exactly what He’s doing, and He’s always up to something good in our lives – even when we cannot begin to understand it.
With that, even when disappointed, I really want and trust God’s decisions.
Grief is hard. Check out this article I found on handling grief as a Christian. It can help when you pray for healing and it doesn’t come.
Source: Dunn, J., & Kendrick, C. (1982). Siblings: Love, envy, and understanding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.