Since I am not God, I obviously have no way to be certain, but I would not be surprised if one of the more common prayers He hears is for healing, both for the person offering the prayer and for loved ones. Nobody likes to suffer, and even more than that, we don’t like to see our loved ones suffer, so it makes sense to me that this would be a common prayer.
What doesn’t make sense, though, is the apparent absence of an answer from God. I mean, I believe in a loving, all-powerful God with the ability to do anything He wants. So why would He ignore such prayers? How could he, instead, take loved ones from us in spite of our pleas to the contrary?
It doesn’t seem fair.
I have no argument for that. I agree, it’s not fair. To say it sucks is an understatement.
There are, of course, platitudes people will offer–well-meaning people trying desperately to find something comforting to say–but that in the end crash to the floor and shatter like a china teacup. She/He is in a better place. God must have needed another angel, so He called him/her home. Blah, blah, barf.
The only thing I can think of isn’t really very comforting, but it probably best fits with who I believe the Bible tells us that God is: I believe that upon passing through death, followers of Christ are restored into some form that is healthy and fit enough to last for all of eternity. So sometimes when we pray for healing, we or our loved ones are truly healed–just not in the way we think of healing, not in the way we want. We or they pass through death and are made whole. This doesn’t help those of us left behind since we see it as that person being taken from us. But that person’s suffering is over.
I warned you it wasn’t all that comforting.
But there is good news. God isn’t willing to have anyone face eternity without giving them an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There’s underlying theology here, about how and when that choice happens, and is this opportunity presented (again) after we die, that I’m glossing over for now since that’s deeper than I want to get right now. What I’ll point to instead is the story of the vineyard workers that Jesus told in Matthew chapter 20.
Jesus’ point in telling this parable is to let us know–especially those of us who have been following Him for years and may have an over-inflated and worldly view of what’s fair–that even people who accept Him into their hearts at the last possible moment will enjoy the same benefit of eternity with Him in paradise as those of us who have been toiling away as His followers for many years. To underscore this point, look at what He said to one of the thieves on the cross right next to Him, who professed his faith in Jesus only hours before he died:
This still may not give us any comfort when a loved one is ripped from our grasp, taken away too soon. But in some small way, perhaps it can bring a measure of hope that we can one day be reunited with them in paradise.
In memorium: for Kathy. We all miss you more than we had the chance to tell you before you were gone too soon.