Is every request for healing answered?

If James 5:15 is true then, yes, every request for healing will be answered. It’s a clear promise in that verse that “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”

But lots of people who request healing get worse instead of better, and many die without being healed at all. So what’s the problem? Was it the prayer not being offered with enough faith? Or was there a sin the sick person was unaware of that needed dealing with first? Or was there a much deeper sickness that needed healing rather than the superficial healing the person was after? Or does being made “well” refer only to mental and spiritual illnesses, rather than physical illnesses, since eventually we all die physically?

It raises all sorts of issues, but the big question seems to be: “Why didn’t the healing happen before the person died? Surely if you ask for healing and the promise is firm, then it has to happen before one’s life ends, right?” I mean, what’s the point of asking for healing in the first place if there’s no guarantee you’re going to be healed before you die? Surely, healing means healing in this life now, doesn’t it?

“Ah but,” some say, “we’ll all be healed in the resurrection.” But that’s pretty discouraging for someone with a debilitating ailment causing huge bother for himself and those around him, who reads James 5 and sees a clear promise (and hope) of healing and relief before the resurrection, if it’s sought with faith. And how do you answer little Mabel who cries out, “Why did God let Grandma die from a heart attack, when she had so much faith?”

The problem for Mabel, though – and maybe for us too – is that we make death the deadline. Surely healing must happen before death, we say, because death is the end. Death ends everything in this life, including any leftover, unfulfilled promises of healing. But what if God didn’t heal a person in this earthly life now, because he doesn’t see death as the end?

Jesus did say in John 8:51, that “if a man keeps my word, he will never see death.” If Mabel’s Grandma kept Jesus’ word, therefore, death as we define it didn’t happen to her. God didn’t see her death as death. Death wasn’t the end of her life, so neither was it the end of God’s promise of healing for her. So, just because she wasn’t healed in this life didn’t mean her healing didn’t happen. It meant her healing hasn’t happened yet. Because Grandma’s life continues beyond death, so, therefore, does God’s promise.


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