God doesn’t heal all people all the time

Reposted from the Kineti blog and authored by Judah Gabriel Himango, one of Tabernacle of David’s teachers.

This morning, Ruth, a friend of my family’s for several decades, a Messianic Jewish woman who I’ve known since childhood, passed away after a grueling battle with cancer.

We’d been praying for her for months. In my morning prayers I asked God for a miraculous healing. Her husband was praying without ceasing – nearly every waking moment – believing God for a miracle to heal her of stage 4 cancer. Just days ago, my older brother and his family and my parents and myself joined together and prayed for Ruth’s healing.

But, this morning Ruth passed away.

God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

Last shabbat, my entire congregation prayed together for her healing. I remember asking, “God – will the dust give praise to you? But if you heal Ruth, I know she will declare your power and glorify you before this generation, to everyone she encounters.

But, this morning Ruth passed away.

God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

I think some religious people don’t want to hear this report. We want to believe that God heals anyone and everyone anytime and all the time.

But, this morning Ruth passed away.

Some people in my local congregation believe that if God doesn’t heal a person, it means the person praying lacks faith.

One such person recently told me, “I was praying for a woman in the grocery store parking lot. I laid hands on her, prayed for healing, then asked if she was healed. When she said no, I replied, ‘Sorry, I just need to have more faith’, and then tried praying some more…”

Let me tell you, Ruth’s husband had perfect, longstanding faith. He believed God for healing even when the doctors recommended end-of-life hospice care. He believed for healing even when medical professionals told him to prepare for the worst. Even the lack of a miracle didn’t sway his faith; he continued believing for a miracle up to and even after Ruth’s passing.

And Ruth’s faith, and her husband’s faith, was not some newfound zealous-but-shallow yearling faith. Rather, it was the faith of people who’ve walked with God and trusted God for healing over several decades.

Weeks ago, Ruth’s husband had told me, “I have not wavered in my faith. I will not bend nor budge on this issue. Please speak the scriptures over Ruth. ‘He himself bore our sickness and carried our diseases and by his wounds we were healed!’”

But, this morning Ruth passed away.

God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

It wasn’t because Ruth lacked faith. It wasn’t because Ruth’s husband lacked faith.

It wasn’t because the wrong type of prayer was said.

It wasn’t because hands weren’t laid, or the prayer formula was wrong, or that anointing oil wasn’t used properly, or that the wrong name pronunciation was used, or any other pseudo-biblical healing formula forgotten. None of that mattered.

No, it was because God doesn’t heal all people all the time.

If this wasn’t true, the hospitals would be empty.

If this wasn’t true, no righteous person would ever die; the prophets and the disciples and the righteous heroes of our faith would still be here with us. But they’re all dead and buried.

Religious people often say that God sees the beginning and end of each person’s life. But we contradict ourselves when we say God heals all people all the time; it would mean some people would never die, some people would have no end, thus elevating them to a status reserved only for the divine.

Ruth and her husband did no wrong. As I see it, they believed God for healing, as the Scriptures show us to do. They spoke the Scriptures over her, . Even so, God did not send healing. 

God is not at fault, nor are the humans involved. It was her time to go.

It’s not a failure of God. It’s the plan God has for humanity at this time: every human has a beginning of life, and an end of life.

This morning was the end of Ruth’s life. May her memory be a blessing.

God has not promised to heal all people all the time. But the good news is, God’s righteous people have an assurance written in the Hebrew Bible, a promise reiterated by Messiah himself: there will be a time when God miraculously raises all righteous people from the dead, with renewed physiology that will never again succumb to disease or death.

And this is Ruth’s hope, too. She was a blessing to me in my life, she will be missed, and she will be remembered. And, in a long-awaited day soon to come, God will breathe new life into her here on earth. Her body in that day will be cancer-free, and she will declare the power and glory of God.

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