Why are not everybody healed when they receive prayer? Why was that person healed but not this person, even though they both believed in Jesus? Charismatics are often asked these questions, and as they are related to theodicy and the problem of evil and suffering, they take some time to answer. I have appreciated the Kingdom theology response to why not everyone are healed developed by John Wimber, which can be read in his great book Power Healing.
In this blog post I want to address a particular type of healing theodicy, where one points to the death of a loved one as an argument for the strange selectiveness of God’s healing. I have several times heard friends describe how a dear relative was very sick and they prayed and prayed, bit eventually they died. Several of those who have told me this have then said that because of this they have some problems with the healing message; some of them have been mad at God for healing others but not the one they prayed for.
Such a scenario reminds me of how Martha questioned why Jesus didn’t heal Lazarus while he was dying:
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:21-26)
After mourning Lazarus Himself Jesus eventually raised Lazarus there and then from the dead. But as we can tell from His other teaching on eternal life, He really means what He said concerning that all who believes in Him will live even though they die. He promises resurrection and eternal life to everyone who follows His footsteps. Lazarus, after all, died again (he’s still not around as far as I can tell) but will like all other Christians be resurrected on the final day.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him… For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:13-14, 16-18)
That’s the Gospel! That’s what Jesus died for to give us. Healing, exorcisms and other “here and now”-miracles are awesome, but the greatest miracle is eternal life in Heaven. Jesus even said this to His disciples:
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:19-20)
Of course, Heaven may feel far away sometimes and we may have very good reasons to miss our loved ones very much. But death really isn’t a defeat for Christians, it’s our heavenly birthday. Paul was so excited by Heaven that he even questioned why he was still on earth, before coming to the conclusion that it probably was good for him to evangelise some more before he died (Phil 1).
Thus, a healing message should always be followed by a resurrection message. The Holy Spirit doesn’t keep on healing and healing and healing Christians so that we get 10 000 years old in this hostile and dark world, but after we die He raises us to a new world with no suffering or death. Everybody are healed in Heaven.