Praying for healing

 

We aren’t afraid to ask God for all kinds of miracles. Lord, please stop the rain for my sister’s outdoor wedding. Help me find a different job. Reveal yourself to my coworkers. We don’t hesitate to ask, even though we don’t always hear yes.

But when it comes to asking God for the miracle of healing, we get a little weird. We have read “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up,” but we haven’t seen it. We have prayed for our sick friends and family members only to see them remain sick. It’s a clear and undeniable disappointment. We doubt our faith. We doubt God’s willingness to answer. We call it a shot in the dark. Randomness. We stop expecting God to heal. And we stop asking God to heal.

Thankfully, the world is still full of people with great faith. God has told them no, yet they continue to trust the word and live in expectation. My best friend Kate is the sweetest example I know.

I met Kate Marinangeli shortly after college. As an only child, Kate not only adopted me as her best friend but as her sister. Her parents, Ken and Norette, still acted like newlyweds, and Ken doted on his wife and daughter, and the sweet family made me feel like family too. In the early years of our friendship, Kate and I celebrated as her parents fell more in love with Jesus and got baptized in a horse trough in their backyard. (No Kentucky jokes, please.)

Ken, an accountant who had made enough money to retire early and was looking forward to working for his church, was incredibly kind and loyal. He was the kind of friend who requested my flight numbers when I traveled and stayed glued to his computer to make sure I took off and landed safely.

Since moving to our town, Ken had struggled with intense allergies, and doctors would tell him, “Welcome to Lexington, Kentucky.” But in 2010, we learned that it wasn’t allergies. It was cancer...in his lungs, his brain, and his bones. He was going to die and didn’t have much longer to live. After a brain surgery, doctors gave him 3 weeks to 3 months.

Kate prayed every day, and she was full of faith. Not only Kate, but her whole church family, the pastors and elders and other believers in town fasted and prayed for Ken. We read books on healing and read every verse on healing. Looking back, Kate and I didn’t even act like Ken was going to die. If anyone expected healing, it was Kate.

Shortly after Ken’s brain surgery, he collapsed on the floor of their home and died in the car beside his wife as she raced him to the hospital. I remember holding Kate’s hand and looking at Ken’s body in the ER and asking God to raise him from the dead.

Staying with Kate and her mom as they mourned his death is one of my strongest memories. Their grief was nearly unbearable, but I marveled at the way Kate talked to God. She loved him, trusted him and let him love her. I watched as her belief in his power to heal wasn’t shaken. God had not healed her dad, but she still believed in his power to heal. She talked about it specifically at the time—not allowing a personal experience to cause doubt in the truth.

Two years later, Kate’s mom had not even begun to heal from her grief when her own diagnosis came: Stage 3 cervical cancer. It was a far less severe diagnosis than her husband’s, but cancer is always scary. I remember being impressed by Kate’s response. “Let’s pray; let’s fast; let’s believe that God will heal her!”

Norette’s body responded to radiation in a way that surprised the doctors, and the cancer was gone in record time. But, in less than a year, it had returned and spread, and even with chemotherapy, we were not hopeful. After several rounds of chemo, Norette was frail, grief-stricken and preparing to die. We feared she had given up and were pleading for her life.

But then, Norette herself asked God for a miracle. I remember Kate telling me that she thought God was going to answer her mom. Miraculously, Norette’s body started to respond to treatment. Not only did Norette become cancer-free, but God continued to heal her from side-effects that doctors said she could not avoid.

 Norette with her grandchildren

Norette with her grandchildren

Today, Norette is an amazing mother-in-law to Kate’s husband, Ben, and a loving grandma to their two kids, Sofie and Kenneth Owen. Though she will never stop missing her husband, she is happy to be alive and knows God intimately as her comforter and healer.

And this is why Kate is my favorite person to talk to about healing. God has said yes and God has said no, but she continues to expect him to heal. She talks about her dad who now lives where there is complete victory over death and pain, and she talks about her mom to whom God gave several more healthy years here on earth.

We never avoid talking about it. “With Dad, my faith was blind,” Kate recently said. “I didn’t have the ability to imagine him dying, so I expected him to be healed. But with Mom, I knew that I could lose her, but fully expected that God would heal her, especially when she asked for it herself.”

We know that God’s word is true. We know that God can heal and that God does heal. So when we ask, we know that we can be full of faith. God’s answer won’t always be yes. But we keep asking and wait eagerly, with faith and expectation, to see how God will move.