“I’m so disappointed in God”

It doesn’t take much to get Christians admitting they’re confused over what to pray for when someone is sick or dying. We know Scripture says, “pray for each other so that you may be healed,” James 5:16, and that “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well,” verse 15, but in reality it doesn’t seem to happen.

It’s not surprising, then, when a Christian says, “I’m so disappointed in God,” when – after days, months and even years of praying for someone – the person dies from his or her sickness anyway. But wasn’t the Christian fulfilling his duty by relying on God to heal? So why didn’t God heal? He heals according to faith, so if faith is expressed by the Christian why doesn’t God come through with the healing?

The healing of what, though? Well, the healing of the person’s body, right? But why would we be seeking the healing of a body that’s already dead? “For you died,” Paul writes in Colossians 3:3. The focus of our interest as Christians, then, isn’t on the body we were born with that died on the cross with Christ. Our interest is on the body that was “raised with Christ,” verse 1, and “is now hidden with Christ in God,” verse 3. We already have a brand new life that we’ve been raised to, where “Christ is (our) life,” verse 3. The focus of a Christian’s heart and mind, then, is on the “things (we’ve been raised to) above, not on earthly things,” verse 2.

When praying for someone sick, therefore, that “the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15), what “raising up” are we praying for? Is it the raising up of a person’s earthly body or the raising up of a person to their new life of “being transformed into (Christ’s) likeness with ever-increasing glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18?

The context in James 5 answers that for us, because the healing sought for is from sin. “If he has sinned, he will be forgiven,” James 5:15, “Confess your sins to each other,” verse 16, and “Whoever turns a sinner away from his error,” verse 20. Sin is the sickness we seek God’s healing from, because sin is what stops us experiencing our new life to the full. And physical sickness is a great reminder of that, that we live in a dead and dying body because of sin, but God has raised us to a new life where sin is forgiven and he’s constantly healing us of sin’s effects.

And on that score  – according to James – God never disappoints.

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