Healing Line

Healing Line

When Healing Doesn't Come

by Francis MacNutt
November 1995

Francis recently received a letter from an old friend in the healing ministry that touched many of us deeply. We have excerpted portions of the letter and changed a few references to protect the woman's anonymity and printed Francis' and Norma's responses in hope that this correspondence would minister to many who find themselves frustrated when healing does not come even though faith is present. Many have been confused by the word–of–faith ministries that urge Christians to "name it and claim it" in faith and God must deliver.

This one who served him so faithfully, courageously cries out that she is disappointed with God. Have you ever found yourself in a similar position?

Dear Francis and Judith:

At this point in my life I am having a difficulty with all my training in the healing ministry, God's promises and 19 years of involvement.

Many years ago, I attended a conference you were teaching. I was sent there by a friend gifted in the healing ministry. I had started working with him in the healing ministry, on weekends, on evenings and during vacation time. I have degrees in anesthesiology, nursing, and psychology, and held a full–time position teaching.

After six years, I felt God call me to work with my friend in the ministry full time, so I left my job. My husband, my friend and I traveled across the US and Canada, teaching, and praying for the sick. I also counseled and prayed for the sick at universities, churches, military groups and schools. I witnessed God's healing power over and over in cases that medical science had given up on.

While we were traveling, our friend had a massive heart attack. Due to his cardiac condition, I always carried an emergency kit and was able to save his life. I transported him to a hospital and the doctor said, "There is no hope, contact his community." I refused and threatened to place him on a respirator myself. After many words the doctor cooperated and twelve days later told me they could not revive him and there was no hope. I said please let me talk to a Christian surgeon. The new surgeon said that he would take a chance, but our friend only had a 25% chance. I called all across the country for prayers. I promised God if he gave me two more years to learn from him I would take care of him and sustain his life as long as possible.

After the surgery the surgeon said, "I don't know what made his heart start, because it seemed impossible." I told him it was God's intervention. I stayed out of state in ICU with our friend against my families wishes, but I had made a promise to God and so I stuck by it. I knew if I left they'd let him die.

After returning home my husband and I took care of him for three–and–a–half years. The fourth year he passed away.

Shortly thereafter, my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I prayed for six years, placed him on prayer lists, claimed God's promises and nothing worked. He is still in a wheel chair and his condition is worsening.

I had unshakable faith. I prayed for patients on the operating room table that were healed and the doctors had me going room–to–room witnessing God's power.

The many promises in the Bible, I have gone over and over. I took a three–year course from a Spirit–filled Bible college that teaches the word–of–faith method of healing. Its taking a toll on my health and faith. I am going to a Christian counselor while my husband is at Day Care, but healing doesn't sit well with her.

My faith has dropped considerably. I kept my promise to God in spite of all the objections. Why has God turned his back on us when we love him so? He promises healing and abundant life. I can't teach or give seminars anymore. I feel I'll be giving false hope to others.

I witnessed healings of cancer, blindness, deafness, multiple sclerosis, heart problems, etc., with believers, non–believers, even Buddhists in Hawaii. My husband is a wonderful Christian, loves the Lord very much and helped us in the ministry.

God also tells us he loves us so much more than our earthly father and would do so much more. My Father would never allow this to happen to two who have given their lives, talents, time and love to serve and win souls for Jesus. I never doubted the Lord until I experienced six years of stress, frustration, and unanswered prayer.

Please don't refer me to Job. He paid an awful price to prove a point.

Thank you for reading this lengthy letter. I am really hurting and I guess angry with God.

Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

Francis' Response

I can well understand your pain and confusion — My response is simply that I start at a different place in my view of the healing ministry (see the sections in my book Healing and The Power to Heal on faith, especially the two appendices in The Power to Heal). The word–of–faith preachers concentrate on absolute faith in the promises, and teach that if you have faith the person will be healed. I start with mystery, asking God what to do in any given time of prayer. There are many factors involved, not just faith, and unless God reveals them, I am personally not sure whether a person will be healed or not. I hope this is encouraging to you, but I do not believe that god has turned his back on you.

John Wimber gave an excellent talk on suffering in June at the Catholic Leadership Conference in Steubenville. I know he won't pray with people for healing unless he gets word from the Lord to do so. I usually pray for the sick when they ask, but don't know what the answer will be.

My experience is that most people who start from the word–of–faith position eventually end up in the dilemma you are in. I have high personal regard for these preachers, but feel that this teaching has left many disappointed when the sick are not healed. I hope that this helps!

Yours in Christ,
Francis MacNutt

Editors Note: Francis' books The Power to Heal and Healing can be ordered from the book store.

Francis wanted to add this further consideration for our readers — In her autobiography, Sealed Orders, Agnes Sanford narrates how her elderly husband became ill and their prayer group, who loved him so much, kept him alive for two years through their prayers. Agnes felt that the Lord wished him to go to heaven before, that time, but their love wouldn't allow them to hear that message.

Norma's Response

I read your letter to Francis and his response to you and felt led to add a note. I've been on staff at CHM for the past ten years as a prayer minister, speaker, and teacher on healing.

During these years I have also seen many miraculous healings and God has truly given me the gift of faith. I have also lost several people to death that I have had tremendous faith about. One man in particular with Lou Gherig's disease that I prayed soaking prayer with for six years. I remember very well my feelings of frustration and disappointment as I watched him deteriorate before my eyes.

I remember once when I said to the Lord, "Nothing is happening when I pray for Bill." — This is because I had seen no change in his physical condition. The Lord spoke to me very clearly and said, "Norma, don't ever think that nothing is happening when you pray. You may not be able to see it with the physical eyes, but something is happening." This helped me continue to pray for Bill and to never give up. There came a time, two years later when the Lord spoke and said, "It is finished." Bill died three days later as I held his hand.

If there is one thing I have learned it is that healing is a mystery. My father–in–law, the late Father Frank Dearing, taught me that, Number One — I didn't have any answers, and Number Two — I couldn't heal anybody. It is up to the Lord who gets healed and when. My job is to lay hands on the sick and pray for healing. His job is the healing department. My faith is not in my faith, but in God's faithfulness, and sometimes I just don't understand. It seems that many people in the healing ministry are uncomfortable with saying, "I just don't know or understand."

My heart goes out to you. You sound so weary. I will pray for you and I encourage you (if you have your prayer language) to pray in the Spirit for a while until you begin to feel some refreshment and peace.

The Lord loves you very much and He does hear your prayers. He loves your husband even more than you do.

In His Love,
Norma Dearing

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. November 1995 Issue