Import jQuery

God doesn’t heal all people all the time

This morning, Ruth, a friend of my family’s for several decades, a Messianic Jewish woman who I’ve known since childhood, passed away after a grueling battle with cancer.

This post is to help me gather my thoughts about her passing.

We’d been praying for Ruth for months. Her husband was praying without ceasing – nearly every waking moment – believing God for a miracle to heal her of stage 4 cancer. In my morning prayers I asked God for a miraculous healing. Just days ago, my older brother and his family and my parents and myself joined together and prayed for Ruth’s healing.

But this morning, Ruth passed away.

God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

This should be obvious – hospitals are full and people are dying all the time – but religious people often suggest that if humans just trusted God, God will heal them every time, all the time.

I think God has made no such promise.

Last shabbat, my entire congregation prayed together for Ruth’s healing. I remember asking, “God – will the dust give praise to you? But if you heal Ruth, I know she will declare your power and glorify you before this generation, to everyone she encounters.

But this morning, Ruth passed away.

God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

I think some religious people don’t want to hear this report. We want to believe that God heals anyone and everyone anytime and all the time.

But this morning, Ruth passed away.

Some people believe that if God doesn’t heal a person, it means the person praying lacks faith.

One such person recently told me, “I was praying for a woman I had just met. I laid hands on her, prayed for healing, then asked if she was healed. When she said no, I replied, ‘Sorry, I just need to have more faith’, and then tried praying some more…”

Let me tell you, Ruth’s husband had perfect, longstanding faith. He believed God for healing even when the doctors recommended end-of-life hospice care. He believed for healing even when medical professionals told him to prepare for the worst. Even the lack of a miracle didn’t sway his faith; he continued believing for a miracle up to and even after Ruth’s passing.

And Ruth’s faith, and her husband’s faith, was not some newfound zealous-but-shallow yearling faith. Rather, it was the faith of people who’ve walked with God and trusted God for healing over several decades.

Weeks ago, Ruth’s husband had told me, “I have not wavered in my faith. I will not bend nor budge on this issue. Please speak the scriptures over Ruth. ‘He himself bore our sickness and carried our diseases and by his wounds we were healed!’”

But this morning, Ruth passed away.

God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

It wasn’t because Ruth lacked faith. It wasn’t because Ruth’s husband lacked faith.

It wasn’t because the wrong type of prayer was said.

It wasn’t because hands weren’t laid, or the prayer formula was wrong, or that anointing oil wasn’t used properly, or that the wrong name pronunciation was used, or any other pseudo-biblical healing formula forgotten. None of that mattered.

No, it was because God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

If this wasn’t true, the hospitals would be empty.

If this wasn’t true, no righteous person would ever die; the prophets and the disciples and the righteous heroes of our faith would still be here with us. But they’re all dead and buried.

Religious people often say that God sees the beginning and end of each person’s life. But we contradict ourselves when we say God heals all people all the time; it would mean some people would never die, some people would have no end, thus elevating them to a status reserved only for the divine.

Ruth and her husband did no wrong. As I see it, they believed God for healing, as the Scriptures show us to do. They did everything they physically could do, too, receiving treatment from modern medicine. They spoke the Scriptures over her. They believed with perfect faith that God would heal Ruth of disease. Even so, God did not send healing. Nor could modern medicine save her.

God is not at fault, nor are the humans involved. It was her time to go.

It’s not a failure of God. It’s the plan God has for humanity at this time: every human has a beginning of life, and an end of life.

This morning was the end of Ruth’s life. May her memory be a blessing.

God has not promised to heal all people all the time. But the good news is, God’s righteous people have an assurance written in the Hebrew Bible; a promise reiterated by Messiah himself: there will come a day when God miraculously raises the righteous from the dead, with renewed physiology that will never again succumb to disease or death.

And this is Ruth’s hope, too. She was a blessing to me in my life, she will be missed, and she will be remembered. And, when God gives the command, every person will raise to life and stand before Him. He’ll breathe new life and weave renewed flesh onto Ruth here on earth. Her body in that day will be cancer-free, and she will declare the glory of God.

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