“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

(James 5:15, KJV)


When I was sixteen, my mother passed away unexpectedly.

As a teenager, I still needed my mother. I remember looking out my bedroom window on a Sunday night as the paramedics tried to save her. I prayed, “God, please let her live!” I had never prayed harder in my life, but watching the paramedics take my mom to the hospital and knowing it could be the last time I would see her alive was devastating.

Imagine my heartbreak when my father was diagnosed with cancer one year after my mother’s unexpected death. At seventeen years old, the news was more than I could bear.

My first thought was, why pray? God didn’t answer the prayer to keep my mom alive. But I prayed anyway; after all, God can heal.

I kept praying and believing God would heal my father from the cancer that was threatening to take him away from me. I watched as the disease destroyed my once-strong father and turned his body into an empty shell.

On the day my father died, I was leaving for work when I stopped to say goodbye. I couldn’t hold back my grief. I kneeled at my ailing father’s bed and said, “Dad, I don’t want you to die!”

My father had brain cancer, and as a result, he would have blackouts, but this time he awoke from semi-consciousness and said, “Baby, don’t cry.” I sobbed, “I don’t want you to go.” He replied, “It will be alright.”

Later that morning, my sister called and said, “Come home right now! Dad is gone.” I was in shock. I left work feeling no emotions. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t believe my father was gone.

One day before my nineteenth birthday, I stood in a cold room where my father lay on a table. He was only fifty-four years old. I lost control and fell on his chest, holding onto him, crying and begging God to bring him back as He did for Lazarus. My prayers fell at the feet of Jesus, unanswered.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth (John 11:43 KJV).

When my father died, I held no bitterness toward God, but I was disappointed that He chose not to heal either of my parents. I figured He had reasons, but I was distraught after losing them both within a year.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of God at that point, but I knew I wasn’t angry with Him and accepted His will. I wondered why healing comes for some, but for others it doesn’t.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, KJV).

When my husband was twelve years old, he was diagnosed with glaucoma. Due to complications, he became blind in one eye. One night, while we were putting our kids to bed, he confessed to me that he’s prayed for years that God would heal him, but for whatever reason, God chose not to heal. My husband was not bitter; he accepted God’s will.

A couple of years ago, I knew a young lady who battled an aggressive form of cancer for twenty-two years. She prayed for healing. Everybody prayed for her, but unfortunately, she passed away.

I often saw her in church, trying her best to be positive and hold onto hope. She decided it was better to live every day serving God and loving her family rather than become bitter. God was merciful to her, but her healing never came.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, So great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:10-12, KJV).

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reminds us that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The Apostle Paul described a thorn in his flesh that God wouldn’t remove. Most scholars believe the thorn was an illness, but whatever it was, God chose not to take it from him. Paul’s weakness was a place of dependence on God that fueled God’s purpose in his life.

Sometimes God uses our infirmities to help us develop character and spiritual strength.

Waiting on God to heal us or someone we love is difficult. If God chooses not to heal, it’s not because He doesn’t love us; it’s because He has a far greater purpose. God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Man’s goings are of the LORD; How can a man then understand his own way? (Proverbs 20:24 KJV).


  • “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV).
  • “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:24, KJV).
  • “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;”(Psalm 103:3, KJV).
  • “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise” (Jeremiah 17:14, KJV).
  • The healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19).
  • The healing of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:5-6).
  • Elisha raises the Shunammite woman’s son to life (2 Kings 4:18).

The Old and New Testaments recorded many occasions when God healed people. We know God can heal, but if not, God’s grace is sufficient, and He is sovereign.

We won’t stop loving God or appreciating His mercy when healing doesn’t come. In my parents’ case, God saw something I didn’t see. Certainly, taking them home was merciful—their suffering on earth ended.

If you find yourself in a season where you’re praying for someone else’s healing or your own, remember that God’s goodness and mercy are always with you. Regardless of the outcome, God loves you, and He cares.

O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me (Psalm 30:2, KJV).


Rebbecca Horner lives in Utah with her husband of eleven years and her four kids. Her family attends New Life Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, pastored by Eugene Guerrero. She serves in the music ministry and her husband, Mathew, is the men’s ministries leader.

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