October 13, 2021
“Meron po kaming nakitang cancer sa skull area and sa liver niya.”
In July of this year, we heard this deafening news from my stepfather’s oncologist. He has cancer, again.
I remember holding my mom that day as she lost her strength while listening to the doctor. It didn’t matter what the explanations were or what other diagnostic exams they would do. They lost me at the word “cancer.” I can vividly see how gloomy that day was—the dimmed hospital hallway and the face of my mom as she cried for my father’s healing.
Later that night, my mom asked me, “Bakit kaya hinayaan ng Diyos na maranasan natin ’to?” I didn’t know how to respond because I really don’t know the answer. But yet, in the midst of these questions, without an absolute answer in sight, I am certain that our lives are in the palm of a good, good God.
My mom is a prayerful woman, and so is my father. But how can God not answer every detail of our prayers? We prayed for healing for his first nasopharyngeal cancer, but yet here we are today, battling this disease, again.
Many of us today have either prayed for others or were prayed over for healing. Social media is filled with posts about death and sickness, and the number of “praying for yous” we’ve sent and posted seem to be piling up.
But how do we pray for the sick? How do we view the God that we pray to?
God is Jehovah Rapha, “God who heals.”
God has various names to describe His character; one of which is Jehovah Rapha. This was first mentioned in Exodus 15:26 when the Israelites escaped from Egypt.
“If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”
Exodus 15:26 (NIV)
God is able to heal anyone of any disease, and King David knows this well. Scripture gives us a glimpse of the physical battles David endured (Psalm 41; Psalm 103) and how his enemies wished him dead. But Jehovah Rapha healed David!
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
Psalm 103:2–4 (NLT)
God is able to heal all diseases, even those that have no cure because He is our divine healer. And even in the New Testament, we find His Son, Jesus Christ, healing those who had “various diseases” (Mark 1:34, NIV). He healed those with leprosy, the paralyzed, the blind, and even raised a dead girl back to life (Mark 5:41–42, NIV). A woman who has exhausted all her resources throughout many years to find a cure found immediate healing when she touched the fringe of Jesus’ clothing (Mark 5:24–34, NIV).
God is Jehovah Rapha. He is our healer. And as we pray for the sick, let’s be in faith that God has the power to restore the person’s health. He is able to move supernaturally in our lives.
But what if God chooses not to heal the sick?
When I was in college, there was one passage I feared seeing every time I requested something from God:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
Hebrews 11:13 (NIV)
Back then, whenever I encountered this verse, I would close my Bible and randomly flip it again until I got a verse that would calm my longing heart. I laugh when I think about it today because I realized that my heart was not willing to accept that God has full power over my life, which sometimes means that I won’t get what I prayed for. So I played roulette with His words as if reading it were some game of chance and luck.
Hebrews 11 started with a list of people who followed God and lived a life of faith. In faith, they did great and mighty things. Yet in verse 13, we are confronted with the reality that the fullness of the promises they received from God did not come into full fruition in their lifetime but in eternity with Christ.
As a young student, I was scared to not receive the things I prayed over for years. And probably today, as we pray for the sick, there is a similar fear of not receiving healing even after our many pleas for God’s mercy.
Like those who were before us, we know that we are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13, NIV). This world is not our final home. In Christ, we are assured that death is not the end. In Christ, we do not lose to death. Our physical bodies may waste away, but our eternal life will forever be in Him.
Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 (NLT)
Back to my story about my dad, while “cancer” can be very intimidating and scary, we know that we are under the care of a Savior whose name is above every other name and whose power cannot be fathomed. Our family rests in the assurance that God is able, and He is willing to heal and help those who call on Him for rescue. So today, despite every challenge, we live in faith, and look forward with greater hope.
Let’s pray in faith because God is able to heal. Let’s grieve in moments of loss. But let’s be people of greater hope because this life is not the end. In Christ, the best is yet to come.