What's the Point of Faith When God Didn't Answer Prayers for My Loved One's Healing?

Question from a reader:

Since I lost my young wife to cancer two years ago, I really struggle to see God as “my best friend” again. We prayed earnestly for healing for over three years, and now I’m raising two children alone. I’ve read much of what Randy and others have written about grief, yet even when I read the Bible it’s hard to find the joy and excitement, because I keep wondering what's the point of much faith in Him when prayers are not answered accordingly? To unconditionally love a God who gives and takes away whenever He wishes is a hard one. How can I tell if this is a "Job's situation" or I am actually suffering because of sin?

Answer from Doreen Button, EPM staff:

Even to imagine the sadness, loneliness, emptiness, and helplessness you must feel breaks my heart. I’m going to share with you a few thoughts which I hope you’ll find encouraging.

You’ve obviously been seeking good input in what you’re choosing to read and think about. Meditating on what is excellent and pure (Philippians 4:4-9) is imperative if you want to truly heal.

Your questions are insightful and very understandable. I’d like to pose one additional question you can ask: “Why did God give me ten years with my wife [instead of just a few weeks or months] and bless me with two children [instead of one or none]?” Our perspective in grieving is so important. God is infinite, all-knowing, and all-wise along with being sovereign. He knows things we’ll never know and can see the big picture we are incapable of comprehending. We always want answers when things don’t go the way we’d like, and as you know from reading about Job, God only gives us the answers we truly need.

Please remember that it takes time to reach that place of perspective. Be patient with yourself during this process. It can take three or more years just to get past the fog and confusion of a major loss.

I’ve experienced a great deal of loss, and I wouldn’t wish that part of my story on anyone. I also wouldn’t want to have missed the resulting depth of my relationship with God for anything. I promise you: if you keep seeking God’s face and keep being honest with Him about your pain and keep asking Him your questions humbly and with the desire to remain faithful whether you like the answers or not, you will make it through this with greater faith and a beautiful sense of God’s great love and care for you. The Valley of the Shadow of Death is a scary, lonely, dark place; aren’t you glad Jesus is our Good Shepherd who walks through it with us to the banquet at the other end? And, also in Psalm 23, don’t miss the beginning: “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”

You asked how to tell whether you’re in a Job situation or whether your suffering results from sin. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He promises to forgive them and Romans 8:1 promises that we who love Jesus are under zero condemnation. We’re all subject to the consequences of sin and the curse regardless of whether we’ve lived the life of a sinner or a saint. In both cases, God’s sovereignty remains paramount and overarching.

You also asked about the point of faith in a God who doesn’t answer our prayers for healing, and how to love a God “who treats His people in such a way.” God is a Father who allowed His own Son to die a horrible death. Jesus prayed for deliverance and did not receive a “Yes” answer. Yet Jesus never doubted His Father’s love. So I’d reframe the question, “How could I not love a God who has spent every moment since Eden’s demise trying to get our attention and providing everything we need to be close to Him?” He didn’t choose our sin, but He did choose us despite our sin and provided a just and merciful answer to our sin.

Every moment of your life from now until your death, you have a choice to make. You can choose, by God’s grace, to trust Him with this moment, or to trust yourself. Sometimes your sadness will be so overwhelming, you may only be able to croak out a prayer of, “Help!” Sometimes your faith may not even seem as big as a mustard seed. That’s OK. In God’s hands it is enough.

God doesn’t promise us strength for tomorrow or next week. He promises to give us what we need right now. I love Isaiah 41:10…“so do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I pray that you will continue to seek God’s face regardless of your circumstances. Ultimately nothing else matters but your relationship with Him. When that’s what you seek, you’ll have everything you need. And, according to Jesus (Matthew 6:33), that’s His promise.

Photo by Lukas Hartmann


Doreen Button is one of Randy Alcorn’s staff editors, a certified biblical counselor with r3stored.com, and provides ministry support through lifeimpact.care.