The last shred of hope. A hand reaching out to touch the edge of his robe. A request to heal a favored servant from a Roman centurion. The eyes see, the lame walk, and the body breaks free from demonic possession. These were desperate people in great need of a Healer.
Years of failed remedies and potential cures. Fervent prayers from anguished parents. All of these were answered in just seconds when Jesus stretched out his hand and spoke the words that brought a person to full health.
But what about those Jesus didn’t heal? Why didn’t he speak words of healing to them? Were they not also worthy of the full and complete healing that others received? Did they not express the same faith in Jesus’ power?
I wonder about their stories.
I imagine they are not too different from stories we hear today. Why did my child have to die from cancer? Why did my husband have to die suddenly and leave me with three young children at home? Why did my mother have to suffer so much?
I don’t believe there is an answer that can cease the tears, nor satisfy our human understanding. Any attempt to describe the actions, or the lack thereof, of a sovereign God seems feeble to a person in the midst of suffering. Fairness seems to be a foreign concept to an omnipotent, almighty God when a person is facing challenging circumstances in life. When crushed by the weight of disappointment, sorrow, or pain, I have seen how these unanswered questions can plant the seeds of doubt, mistrust, and even bitterness.
Surveying the landscape of broken dreams and heartache, I have come to the conclusion that certain questions must be left unanswered. It’s like an uninvited guest that doesn’t leave despite all of our strong, yet subtle hints. Those unanswered questions just sit there and become annoying and frustrating. And we have to learn to live with this uninvited guest, because it doesn’t seem they are going to leave any time soon. Not because we have an unloving God, but something quite the opposite.
Unanswered prayers for healing is a by-product of a fallen world where sin and death reign. Sometimes bad things are allowed to happen by a God who loves us more than we can imagine.
No matter how big or how insignificant they may be, God uses circumstances in our life to help remind ourselves of a far greater truth — a type of truth that will have a far lasting impact that any pain or trial the world can bring.
A great example occurs in Mark 2:1-12 when Jesus heals a paralyzed man. When Jesus saw their faith, notice the first words that come out of his mouth. “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Countless times the religious leaders told him that he was probably unworthy to receive any healing from his condition. More than likely, they counseled that the sins of his parents probably caused him to be paralyzed. Perhaps if he was more obedient to the laws and commands of the church, he could possibly receive healing.
Left to his own guilt with no words of comfort, all the man could do was rely on his four friends to open the roof above the house where Jesus was teaching and lower him inside.
Jesus was on his last shred of hope.
But what was Jesus more concerned about?
Sure, he could healed the paralyzed man of his physical condition. Yet, by his words assuring the forgiveness of his sins, Jesus was far more concerned about his soul.
Jesus could ease the pain and bring physical comfort in this life, but what was more important? An eternal life in heaven with no pain and no tears, or temporary relief from a physical calamity that life on earth can bring. The importance of the eternity to come versus a dark eternal life to avoid was so important that there would be times Jesus would allow suffering to continue.
It’s such an important point that even the Apostle Paul considers suffering as a gift. Why? Because in our human condition, it seems that suffering is the most effective means for a person to recognize that the only way to be in heaven was to have their sins forgiven. That can only come by faith. A soul at rest with the assurance of heaven is more important than a body wracked with physical or emotional pain.
The shred of hope we cling to is in the knowledge of our eternal citizenship. For only in heaven, the broken will become whole and healing is everlasting.