A few years back, the husband of a good friend of ours from church was stricken with cancer of the kidney. He was only in his mid forties and the prognosis was not good. Our church set up prayer vigils and many of us spent much time and energy imploring God to intervene and save him from an early death. The man was not a believer, but he allowed us to do this for him, perhaps out of respect for his wife, perhaps out of a sense of; “Why not – What’s to lose?”.
There were some surgeries and some chemo and radiation and, against all odds, he survived. We proclaimed this an example of God’s healing power, as well as one of the power of prayer. It was truly a miracle.
The man was grateful and acknowledged that perhaps there was more to this than just medical science at work. However, he did not convert to the faith, as we had hoped.
Within six months he was diagnosed with cancer in another part of his body and he died very quickly after that, in spite of more prayers. Among some of us there was a sense of confusion. What’s up? Why did God hear our prayers the first time only to allow him to die within a few months of something else? No one truly believed that God was not listening to us the second time around. Was there some purpose to God’s plan that required this seeming inconsistency? If this was the case it almost looked…cruel.
My questions are these; Does God answer our prayers? And if so, in what way? Does he perform ‘miracles’?
Is it necessary to believe in divine miraculous intervention for us to have faith in God? Is prayer necessary for faith?
I ask this because I know that many people struggle with questions like these and it may even cause them to doubt their faith in God.