A friend of mine has cancer, and I have been praying for her to be healed. It's really hard, but I'm praying and trying to have faith. My mom wasn’t healed of cancer when we prayed for her. Is healing dependent on me having enough faith?
Thanks for your message. The pain and suffering related to cancer is certainly something I can relate to. Last year I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent several months of treatments for the disease. Today, by God’s grace, I am doing well and have been able to return to a very “normal” life. As difficult as the experience was, I feel God has used it powerfully in my life. I have dealt with many of the things that you may feel you are dealing with right now, too – like, why did God let this happen? Will God heal me? Is healing a matter of having enough faith and believing it’s true?
I don’t think it’s any mistake that shortly before I was diagnosed, Randy’s book If God Is Good, which is all about suffering and the sovereignty of God, was released and I read through it. In the book, Randy says this:
If you base your faith on lack of affliction, your faith lives on the brink of extinction and will fall apart because of a frightening diagnosis or a shattering phone call. Token faith will not survive suffering, nor should it.
Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God—faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.
Later in the book, Randy talks about healing and his own struggle with disease:
When I became insulin-dependent, I wondered who wanted me ill, Satan or God. The obvious answer? Satan. But I’m also convinced, as was Paul, that the ultimate answer is God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw God’s sovereignty, grace, and humbling purpose of his disease (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). I have clearly and repeatedly seen the same in my own life.
Upon learning of my disease, well-meaning people sometimes ask whether I have trusted God to heal me. I respond that when it first appeared in 1985, I and others did ask God to heal me. After a while, when God chose not to answer our prayers that way, I stopped asking. When I say this, I sometimes get looks of alarm and quotes about persevering in prayer and having faith as a mustard seed. I point out that Paul asked God to remove his disease three times, not a thousand times or a hundred or even a dozen. Just three times he asked—but God made it clear the affliction had come from his gracious hand. Paul had no desire to ask God to remove that which his Lord wanted to use to create in him greater Christlikeness and dependence upon God.
…All healing in this world is temporary. Resurrection healing will be permanent. For that our hearts should overflow with praise to our gracious God.
Wow. Those are tough words to read, especially in the midst of a crisis. But, I found they rang true. Yes, I certainly asked (and still ask) the Lord for physical healing. God is a good Father and He knows my heart and my desires. It’s certainly not wrong to ask Him. I am a wife and a mom to a little girl, and I have much reason to want to live longer on this earth. But as I went through my treatments (and even now, as I continue to get check-ups to see if I’m still in remission), I had to realize that because of my relationship with Christ, healing was not based on me having enough faith or asking God in just the right way to heal me. No matter what happened, God loves me, has a plan for me, and is in control. Sometimes, when I am experiencing anxiety, I repeat that to myself over and over again!
I pray that God will use every circumstance in your life to draw you closer to Him and give you a richer faith and trust in Him and His sovereign purposes.
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.