Seeking Him not Healing
An older man who was very dear to me once had a heart attack and was hospitalized for a few days. The attack was due to some continuous irregular heart beats. The irregularities were causing an imbalance in his blood circulation and so his body was fatiguing prematurely.
We visited for a short time since we had our young ones with us. And as we were readying to leave, I was asked to pray for him. So I nodded and knelt down along side his bed. He was awake and very much alert but weak. I held his hand and prayed.
I was planning on appealing to God’s transcendence and imminence later in my prayer. So I began with adoration expressing recognition of God’s power and His inability to be other than who He is. I identified His ever existing grander and awesomeness. I made sure to speak of God’s transcendence in order to set our minds on his strength.
I then moved to God’s imminence recognizing His faithfulness, love, and care for us while we are both physically and spiritually sick. I expressed our deep thankfulness and gratitude for the hope we have as believers – the hope of our future in heaven where there is no suffering or sickness, no worries nor pains, where our bodies do not decay and become feeble. I then drew our attention to the hope we have before heaven – the hope of our present life of abundance with divine provision, protection, and peace, where we can rest assured in God to be our supreme overseer and not need to dwell on our daily woes.
I thought now would be a good time to move on to our request (although I felt like no request needed to be uttered at this moment). By appealing to God’s power – how He is more than capable of healing His own children – I asked that He would grant us the request of healing my friend of His terrible heart condition. I mentioned that he had been such a tremendous help to me and my family in many practical ways. I then asked that he be given this graciousness as he had been so gracious to me.
My prayer was no longer focused on God and I wanted to return to Him. So I said that if healing my friend was not in the purpose of the Lord, then we will still be grateful and trusting – that it would not reflect negatively on God’s power. He is supreme either way. So no matter what happens, God will be glorified and that is our heart and desire – that is what was request.
I closed by asking that the light of Christ be upon the lips and faces of my friend and his wife as they remain in the hospital. I prayed that the nurses, doctors, and visitors would be witnesses to this light. I ended with an “Amen.”
We adjourned and began to leave when I was pulled aside and asked to “be more encouraging” when I pray. I was puzzled, I could think of nothing more encouraging then the attributes of God and our trust in Him. This person thought differently. Instead, she suggested that I pray that God heal our friend and stand firm on that healing; that I should be confident that God would heal him. She said that “no one wants to hear about submission when they are hospitalized; they want to hear about healing.”
I wondered then why Jesus at the foot of his darkest hour prayed, “Lord not my will but your will be done” (Luke 22:41-42). Or why Paul while he waited for his execution prayed for his son-in-the-faith and for the work of the gospel (2 Timothy). Or why Stephen, being so Christ focused, proclaimed the gospel while he was stoned to death (Acts 7). I wondered why common woes have troubled the believers for so long and yet nothing has stopped them.
I could not entertain the thought that there was anything more comforting and strengthening then the Lord. This was why the martyrs stood firm. Yet, I should abandon the gospel for some temporal healing. I would rather be as those in the Bible and cling to the gospel for some eternal healing.
My body will rot and decay, but my soul will not. And while in this body, I will be troubled. I will then pray to God reverently asking Him for mercy, but I will command him not. My submission is to Him alone. My troubles must wait.
Oh how we have forgotten that Christ is sufficient. We have somehow moved our concerns from God unto ourselves. Thus, we have elevated self above the Lord. Such a perspective is contrary to Scripture. It would be worth it for us to read the prayerful words from the Puritan who wrote:
“Thou bottomless fountain of all good,
I give myself to thee out of love,
For all I have or own is thine,
My goods, family, church, self
To do with as thou wilt,
To honour thyself by me, and by all mine.
If it be consistent with they eternal counsels,
The purpose of thy grace,
And the great ends of thy glory,
Then bestow upon me the blessings of thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to thy wiser determinations.” i
- Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, (Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), p. 7.