Prayer and health

I am having a hard time grappling with the healing stories in Scripture. Jesus and the apostles healed people physically, mentally, spiritually, in every way. There are numerous passages and we are expected to accept them at face value. We also read in John 16:24 and many other passages that we are to ask in Jesus' name and we will receive. My disabled adult son almost died three years ago from a severe heart infection. In fact, he was under hospice care for three weeks until he started to get better, without any real treatment. Many people were praying for him. People in our church were calling it a miracle. He was put on a minor heart failure drug and for several months evidently had no problems. Then we came to learn he had advanced kidney disease, and he requires catheterization four times a day, which severely limits his ability to travel or do anything in a "normal" way. He has had numerous urinary tract infections since then. His life has drastically changed, as has ours. My wife and I are getting on in years and are very fearful for his future. I feel like the "miracle" was a joke, as now, he is sicker and more disabled than he ever was before the heart problem. I've been praying for his physical healing, also for wisdom to know God's will for him. I am getting nothing. Can you help?

You are correct in noting that the healing miracles in the Bible are true; they did take place. Then, again, what we need to keep in mind is that all those people on the receiving end of God’s miraculous power experienced death (and those who were raised from the dead experienced death a second time). Their physical healing was not permanent. Was there sickness or prolonged sickness before death took place? We are not told.

To all the Bible passages that speak of God’s promise to answer prayers, we need to add other Bible passages that speak of God’s love and wisdom that go beyond our understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33-36). God’s wisdom and love may lead him to answer our prayers in ways that differ from our requests (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), but we recognize that God always has our best—our eternal best—in mind (Romans 8:28).

I encourage you to continue to pray for your son, yourself and your family. Then, be sure to give the Lord plenty of opportunities to speak to you through his word (Colossians 3:16). Remember the meaning of baptism: that God has made you his own dear child. (The same is true for your son.) Be a frequent guest at the Lord’s Supper to receive in the most personal way possible the forgiveness of sins. Satan would like nothing more than for you to question and doubt God’s love. Using God’s gospel in word and sacrament provides the Holy Spirit with opportunities to convince you all the more of God’s great love for you and your family.

There are good Christian books that can apply God’s word to your family’s situation. One such book is When Jesus is There. The description of this book is: “Topics include having a child with a serious illness…” It is available from Northwestern Publishing House.

I hope you are able to speak with your pastor about these matters. He is in a position to address the spiritual needs of your family. God bless you and your family.