The man was still. His eyes were open, but locked in an empty stare. Used medical equipment was strewn around the small kitchen from a sort of organized chaos familiar to healthcare professionals.
I took a deep breath and glanced at a forgotten lawn mower through the window. The dead man in front of me had been working in the yard when he suffered a massive heart attack. He made it back to the kitchen before collapsing. We’d done everything we could, and now it was time to clean up and leave.
“You about ready to head out?” my partner asked and tugged at his collar trying to get some relief from the late summer humidity.
“Do you believe that God can raise the dead?”
He rocked back on his heels. “What?”
I knew he was a Christian, but I had no idea where he stood on this kind of stuff. “Do you believe God can raise the dead?”
His eyes darted around the room before settling back on me. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Then let’s pray before we get outta here.”
He hesitated briefly before courage took his heart, and he eased down next to me. I caught some movement by the door and spun to see two police officers entering the scene. “Hang on a sec,” I told them. “We’re just gonna pray a minute or two.”
It was hard to read the expressions on their faces, but I saw some wonder flicker through their eyes. “Sure,” the taller one uttered. “Go ahead.”
So, we did. We laid hands on and prayed according to how we felt led. We prayed in the spirit and did everything we felt led to do. There was no response. I shrugged. “That’s it then.”
We finished cleaning everything up and returned to the station with jumbled feelings. It felt like a win to be able to step out in boldness and courage in that situation. It felt like a win to invite someone else into the process. But nothing happened. That’s tough. That feels like a loss. And rightly so.
For many of us that’s where the story tends to end. We rush to some conclusions and move on with our lives maybe to never pray for the sick or dead again. But here are three things we might want to consider in situations like this where the sick aren’t healed, and the dead stay dead.
- It’s not a statement about the love of God
The love of God never changes. It’s always consuming. The love of God is always working for us. Jesus came to give us abundant life, to destroy the works of the devil. He came to heal the sick, raise the dead, and to reveal the Father.
God’s love isn’t revealed in sickness, disease, or death. It’s revealed through his efforts to heal and end it. Just because the outcome wasn’t what we (God and us) wanted, it doesn’t mean his love somehow changed or needs to be redefined.
Love is not the cause of suffering; it’s the answer for it.
- We have such a small view of things
For many of us the conclusion is a choice between, either God chooses to heal or he doesn’t. But I think that represents an opinion of those who can only see a few feet in front of them. And that’s most of us.
The truth is that there are so many things going on that we can’t see. Some variables that affect someone being healed or raised we’re aware of (free will, faith, prayer, the efforts of the kingdom of darkness). There are other variables that we’re still trying to figure out.
The point is that we should do our best not to create conclusions about the character of God when someone isn’t healed or raised. God still looks like Jesus, and Jesus is still the living example of perfect love.
- The “why” doesn’t need to matter as much as we think it should
We want to ascribe purpose to tragedy. It helps us feel like there was some greater meaning to the terrible things that happen to us and those we love. We think it will help us deal with the grief. It doesn’t. It just helps turn the grief into anger, which is mostly directed at God.
But here’s the thing. The greater the revelation of just how much God loves us, how valuable and adored we are, the less the “why” matters. Here’s why. The most common reaction to suffering is, “If God loves me why would he…”
When we begin to truly understand just how much he loves us, how special we are to him, those first words will turn into, “God loves me so he wouldn’t…” And we begin to understand that something must have been going on that we can’t see. And maybe we won’t understand, but the need to ascribe purpose loses steam when his great and mighty love for us isn’t being threatened.
Keep stepping out in great courage as you feel led by God to do. I believe that you will see positive results more often than not. But know that in every situation, regardless of the outcome, the perfect love of God is working for you and the person in need.
Jesse and Kara
Times running out to get, Finding Home with free shipping and personalized. Pre sale ends 9/1