And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:15-16).
My friend died.
The one fighting cancer–I’ve mentioned him a time or two. He battled like a champ for five months. People prayed for him–lots of people. Prayers offered in faith that the God of the universe was fully capable of raising John from his bed of pain and restoring him to light and life. Prayers offered by men and women clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
I know…some of those prayers were mine.
And yet, last night I was at a meeting of people preparing his funeral.
This morning, I look at this Scripture and I…
Is God a liar? No, I can’t buy that. He is the very nature of Truth. His word declares it. His Spirit confirms it. If God is not truth, well then pack it in boys and girls, because it’s all dust.
Is God too weak to heal? See above.
So what am I not getting? I understand that there are layers of meaning here, that James is talking about spiritual healing as well as physical healing. Hence the discussion about confession and forgiveness. But, ugh, that just feels kinda like a cop-out, you know–like the kind of thing you tell an unbeliever who points out that people die all the time and prayers don’t help them. I also get that prayers aren’t magic incantations. We don’t manipulate God; what we pray must be in accordance with his will if he is to honor it. But that brings up the whole “Why do we pray if God is just going to do what he wants anyway?” discussion, and…oy.
I read the commentary of one scholar who stated that while these verses are written as unconditional promises, they aren’t meant to be unconditional promises.
That didn’t help.
Beloved, I’m not trying to sour your orange juice this morning. But these verses are tough for me. Especially today. Mornings like this are when I have to step back and remind myself that God is very big, and I am very small. My friend John is providing “evidence of things unseen,” even at this moment. In every way that truly matters, John is well and whole and has been restored to Light and Life.
But sometimes faith hurts
and trust is hard.
Someday, Beloved, it will all make sense.