I have spent much time sharing, weeping, and asking God about one of the most painful moments in my life. In October 2003 my pastor, spiritual father, and hero in the faith, Pastor Scott Bauer, suddenly passed away from a burst brain aneurysm at the age of forty-nine. Over twelve years have passed since that moment and I still find myself celebrating his life, being impacted by his leadership, and hurting over the loss.
In our faith walk there are many questions, circumstances, and mysteries that leave us searching for clarity, comfort, and peaceful resolution. Many followers of Jesus have battled with and even abandoned their faith over questions like:
"Why is there so much suffering in the world?"
"Why does evil still exist?"
"If God is real, why doesn't He reveal Himself for all to see?"
"Why am I not seeing present day miracles like the ones I read about in the Bible?"
One question that seems to top the charts is "Why are some people not healed?" Over the last several months we have seen four dear members of our church family go home to be with the Lord. In three of the cases their bodies succumbed to cancer. In each situation I witnessed the desire of the individual to live and an unwavering belief from family members (until the very end) that God was willing and able to heal their loved one. If healing was a matter of the sincerity of faith and the boldness of prayers, then each of these precious people would have risen from their sick bed. Healing in the here and now was not the outcome and so we are left asking ourselves, "What happened?"
As we grieve the loss of our brothers and sisters, I want to provide a biblical perspective to address the questions and hopefully provide a peace and hope in the midst of the sadness, loss, and reality of death. The points I will share are not the complete list of answers, reasons, and possibilities as to why one is not made well or dies (especially when God's people are praying for healing), but these are reminders of the amazing gift of life and the unlimited realm of eternity, that is beyond our present and physical world.
1) We will not live forever in this mortal body.
Jesus declares the promise of eternal life to Martha in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die." The wages of sin brought death into God's creation, but the redemption found in Jesus brings eternal life (Romans 6:23)—Praise the Lord! This body is the shell, the temporal dimension we occupy until we are glorified in the Lord's presence forever (2 Corinthians 5:4).
2) When a person dies they are not missed or lost from God's loving sight.
Although the sting of death is still felt on the earth, accompanied by genuine sadness and grieving when a loved one is gone, in heaven there is something beautiful and precious taking place. The person is welcomed, received, and transformed into the Almighty's awesome presence. 2 Corinthians 5:8 proclaims, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
3) Physical death is not a conclusion, but a continuation of life.
As we come this Easter we are reminded the tomb is empty, death is defeated, and Jesus lives forevermore! We have no greater comfort or hope than knowing that Jesus has defeated death and given us the gift of His resurrection life! We are not left in the pit of death and we are not to fear, for the first death has been overcome. In 1 Thessalonians 5:10 we are given a reason for our hope for life in the midst grieving loss, "He dies for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him."
One of the greatest pictures of life's fullness in heaven is found in Revelation 21:4, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." In the midst of this glorious realm there is the reality then that on earth there is still sin, sickness, pain and death. Although we may not be able to avoid these things, it does not mean we are to concede to them. Because these difficulties keep existing on earth, does not mean we should give up standing on Scripture, confessing our healing, or praying for others to be healed. We are to stand on God's Word, live in God's authority, and pray in bold faith, because the power of Jesus is still present and the promise of heaven is real!