Praying God’s will for someone who is sick can be tricky because Scripture says that it’s appointed for us to die (Hebrews 9:27). We also have to realize that we have to get to Heaven somehow. To get to Heaven we either have to be alive when Jesus comes back or die. The most likely way we are getting to Heaven is through death. This means that at some point it will be God’s will for each one of us to die and there is no telling how this will happen. This also means that when we pray for someone that is sick, while we certainly pray for them to be healed, we do so knowing that healing may not be God’s will, at least at that time. However, despite healing not always being God’s will, an abundant life, even in the midst of sickness and death, is God’s will.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Rest and peace are always available. This is true regardless of the care of life we are facing or how much pressure it exerts on us. This is true even with sickness and death. Let me give you an example. Several years ago my cousin Connie died and I was asked to be a part of her funeral. I want to read you some of what I said.
“When mom called me and told me that Connie had basically been consigned to Hospice care I remember thinking how tough that would be. We all know that any day can be our last. I mean, any number of things could happen to us and any given day could be our last. That is a tension that we probably don’t think much about, but all have to live with. But there is something different about knowing you are going to die, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that someday soon your life is going to end.
In times like this it would be easy to turn inward. To let this situation turn you into a person that is angry and bitter at God, life and maybe even at those who got to stay after you were gone. It would also be easy in a time like this to turn inward and begin to feel sorry for yourself. To pity yourself because of the hand that life had dealt you.
Honestly, I think both of these responses are understandable. I think this is especially true if you have something to live for as Connie did. A husband she loved, children whose lives she was involved in and grandchildren she wanted to see grow up. Yet, despite the temptation that must have been there to respond in this way, Connie didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there were times she struggled with this. But from what I can tell, this wasn’t her normal way of life these last few months. She faced this time with a grace and dignity that is awesome. Not long ago something happened that really reinforced this to me.
When Mom told us about Connie our family started praying for her. Every night during our family prayers we would pray for Connie and the family. My oldest daughter is very sensitive about stuff like this and really worried about Connie and asked every day about how Connie was doing. If I didn’t know she would tell me that I needed to call Nana and ask her.
One day mom called from Connie’s house and I told her to tell Connie that we were praying for her and that my girls—especially Katelyn—were really praying hard for her. Mom said she would and hung up. Not long after that mom called back and had a message for Katelyn from Connie. Connie wanted Katelyn to know that she was going to die, but it was okay. She wasn’t in any pain, she wasn’t afraid, and when she died she would be with Jesus and her family. Her reason for telling Katelyn this was that she didn’t want her to doubt God when Connie died despite the fact that Katelyn had prayed for her. Here she was dying and rather than focusing on herself and her situation she was worried about the faith of a little girl. That is awesome.
We could wonder what it was that allowed Connie to respond like this even toward the end of her life, but we know it was her faith in Christ. Mom told me that not long ago there were several people over at Connie’s house and Connie wanted them all to gather and pray with her. Mom said that after everyone prayed that Connie was filled with the joy of the Lord and began to praise God and tell them how great Jesus was.”
Connie wasn’t old. She was 67. She had been sick for several years before she was placed on hospice. Despite the fact that her illness was long and drawn out, this care of life didn’t steal the abundant life Jesus gave her. She had rest and peace because of Jesus.
What God gave to Connie in the midst of this crushing care of life, He wants to give to everyone in the midst of their crushing cares of life. When we pray for those who are sick, or have sick loved ones, not to be crushed under the cares of life, we are absolutely praying according to God’s will. This should make us bold, confident and passionate in our prayers.