Hallelujah anyway?

Tracing God's healing involvement in every circumstance.

Judith A. Thomas is an Adventist professional laity leader and serves as president of J. A. Thomas and Associates in Georgia.

Robert Schuller, in one of his devotional books, recounts the heart-breaking story of his daughter's motorcycle accident in which the beautiful young woman lost a leg. Receiving the news while overseas speaking, he immediately flew home with his wife. In anger and desperation, he unbuckled his seat belt in the middle of the flight and walked to the lavatory. As he stood in front of the mirror with tears streaming down his face, he audibly articulated his praise to Cod. "Thank you, God. No head injury, no internal organ involvement. She is not paralyzed. She lost only her leg. Hallelujah, anyway!"

"Hallelujah, anyway"?

How many of us, facing stark tragedy, could cry out such a thing?

Recently, the organization where I work mourned the death of a key associate's mother—to cancer. Despite our fervent, heartfelt prayers, the woman died.

"Hallelujah, anyway"?

Then, not long after that death, there was Rhonda, an associate in our organization. She was only 36 years old when diagnosed with advanced cancer of the stomach that was spewing cancer cells all over her abdominal cavity and into her ovaries. Chemotherapy was the only option. The prognosis was, of course, grim: she had only a few months left. The agonized family considered an anointing and healing service. She was anointed in a special service accompanied by prayer all over the world. Today, she is healed; all traces of cancer gone.

"Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!"

Now, of course, the key question: Why was Rhonda healed and others, like Donna's mother, not? We prayed just as hard, just as confidently for them. Why should some be healed, even miraculously, when others die as if,  seemingly, no one heard or cared about their fervent petitions?

Or, perhaps, are we asking the wrong question? Donna (whose moth er had died of cancer) says that the last days of caring for her mother were among the most profound spiritual times she, Donna, had ever experienced. She learned so much spiritually that she could have never learned with out going through that experience.

I agree. I have had my faith strengthened by good people who, despite pain and loss, died with courage and conviction, people who kept their faith right up to their last agonizing breath.

Should I celebrate less for Rhonda because others, equally worthy, were not healed? Of course not. If God's ways are not my ways, then surely there are spiritual and mental changes that are needed that may be less miraculous than physical healing, even if I'm not aware of all the implications involved. Perhaps my associate who had quality time with her mother experienced a miracle in her own life no less spectacu lar. I don't know. We just don't have all the answers.

Robert Schuller's daughter, Donna's mother, Rhonda—all are beloved of the God who gave His one and only Son so that no matter happens to us here, now, we can all have the ultimate qual ity of an everlasting life with Him. And to that I cry, "Hallelujah!"

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Judith A. Thomas is an Adventist professional laity leader and serves as president of J. A. Thomas and Associates in Georgia.

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