Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes as she stopped mid-sentence to compose herself. “It’s over. It’s not fair. I just wish God would heal this relationship.” Her jaw clenched a bit as her facial expression shifted from sad to frustrated.
She continued, “Does God want me to hurt?! Why won’t he heal this?!”
Interesting question. This poor young adult wandered into the wrong pastor’s office if she was only looking for someone to support her feelings without critical biblical analysis. So I responded with, “I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘heal.'”
When MOST people ask me to pray that God would heal them, they really are asking for one of two things:
- That God would give them back the life they had prior to their hardship.
- That God would “heal” them into something that they admire, but what they admire may not be for their ultimate spiritual good.
- Students want to be “healed” into the kind of person who could be popular at school.
- People want God to reestablish a broken relationship with someone that they shouldn’t really be in relationship with at all.
- An absent workaholic parent who lost their job desperately wants me to pray that God would return them to their job or one similar to it.
- When cancer drives a non-spiritual person into deep spiritual searching, blind to the real sickness that has already plagued them they want me to pray that God would take away the very thing that may actually be leading to a truer healing.
Most people want God to “heal” them back into their previous life or “heal” them into someone that isn’t really healthy at all from God’s perspective. Let me be clear–this isn’t healing.
God doesn’t heal backwards or heal you into someone that is further from Him. God wants to heal you into something new. God wants to make you into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). C.S. Lewis says it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God wants to call you out, to wake you up to what truly matters most! When you get to heaven you may discover your sickness was actually leading to a much deeper healing.
Let me redefine the word “healthy” as clearly as I can. A healthy person is someone who is right with Christ.
Anything that makes that relationship stronger is better for you even if it hurts a bit in this brief life. Maybe that severed relationship, sickness, or job loss could ultimately lead to deeper healing. I believe God does still heal the temporal things. However, I don’t believe God wants to heal you into a person that is more spiritually sick. Health, wealth, and prosperity are not the end goal in life. The end goal is to be reunited with God through Jesus Christ.
It doesn’t matter if you have more money than the late Steve Jobs, bathe in hand sanitizer, work out every day, and take multivitamins. You will eventually die and lose all this temporal stuff. Don’t waste your life praying that God would give you back what may have been adding to your spiritual blindness.
Oh, but the news I deliver is so good!
I believe you are made for more–more than having money, more than looking good in the mirror, and more than quick sensual pleasures. I believe you were made on purpose and that God is working you out and waking you up to an amazing eternity that will vastly overwhelm the greatest of temporary pleasures we find on this planet! C.S. Lewis is correct. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.” The Bible takes it even further in Rev. 21:4, “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.” Remember your temporal hardship won’t last, but your heart will.
Here is what I pray and I believe what we should pray for others: I pray that God would do whatever it takes to draw your heart closer to him. I pray God would make you truly, eternally healthy. I pray God would make you ready for heaven where there is perfect peace and perfect joy.
Rev. Mike Colaw serves as lead pastor of Trinity Church in Indianapolis.