Here’s a recurring theological problem I run into in church life, and I’m perfectly willing to concede that it’s a personal problem that I need to work through. Any insight that my readers can offer is appreciated.
My problem is this: Someone, often an older adult, is facing a potentially life-threatening health crisis. People in the church are praying for this person. The surgery or other medical intervention is successful, and the person survives. How do those of us who prayed for that person respond? Thanking God for someone’s recovery certainly seems fitting, so long as we understand—as C.S. Lewis said so poignantly—that every deathbed represents an unanswered prayer. The last prayer for someone’s successful recovery, in other words, will be unanswered. We all will die sometime.
But I often hear this response: “God is good!” And others will chime in their agreement: “Indeed, God is good!”
And I strongly agree: God is good. But this response implies that the person’s successful recovery affirms God’s goodness. “Look what God did in saving this person’s life! This proves that God is good.”
What if the person for whom you were praying died? Would God still be good?