John 5 is a miracle story ending in a conflict. Jesus had told an invalid to get up and walk. Amazingly, the man had not manifested any faith, nor had he asked for help. However, it was a Sabbath, so some were offended by Jesus' action. They debated the question, "Should one heal on the Sabbath?" Jesus responded, "My Father is still at work so I must also be at work." Jesus' claim of unity with the Father offended them more. Eventually, it was one reason He was crucified.
This day, that miracle may be offensive to some of us for a different reason. If Jesus can heal, why does he allow terrible suffering and death? Some are angry at God that He didn't. Others avoid the problem by claiming that God is the cause of these illnesses, that He has a mysterious plan---afflicting us because it is good for us. We have heard it, probably said it ourselves, "Everything happens for a reason." (Meaning God has a good reason)
I want to offer the suggestion that the reason for everything may not always be God. The Bible says our Lord is a Savior; a Savior who rescues people and redeems them, a Savior who wins a victory over the powers of the Enemy. Everything happens for a reason, but one big reason for suffering and death is Sin and the power of sin to pervert God's creation. We live in a world that is not as the Creator intended. Evil permeates reality. Our spirit, soul and body are all afflicted by the demonic powers of the enemies of God.
Jesus' promise is resurrection. Life is God's purpose in creation. When sin produced death, the Father responded with mercy and resurrection. We all die--spiritually in sin and physically in death--but in Jesus, the Father has saved us from both. Life defeats Death. Love defeats the sin. We have a reason for hope and joy, even as the casket sits before us in all its horror.
The Hebrew word, yeshuah, occurs 78 times. It means salvation, but it can also be translated as healing, prosperity, victory, help, rescue, and deliverance. So I ask, if God rescues us from suffering and death, from whom does He rescue? Does God rescue us from Himself, inflicting us with dread diseases then healing, torturing us and killing us only to raise us to life? And if God is the author of all this, why does Jesus call Satan the lord of this world and treat sickness and death as enemies which must be defeated?
I can harbor no anger at God for the painful journey our friend experienced these many years. I may be disappointed that our prayers did not rescue her from the disease, but I understand eventually our prayers will be answered. It is a fallen world, the Father's promise in Jesus is not perfectly manifest, yet, but it will be! All of us will die, and some of us will suffer and die ugly. The world is fallen. That is why Jesus came, to intervene, to rescue us.
Some day, God promise, it all ends. No more crying. No more dying. On that day when heaven comes to earth, the Father lives among us: The new creation of new and better things! That promise means we gather today in hope. We remember our sister Carolyn and her trusting faithfulness to Jesus. We also remember the Lord's promises: the promise that mercy, love and life have defeated sin and death. The promise that one day all will be well. All will be redeemed. We will really are already saved and healed, and some day it will be fully manifest in and with the Holy Three God. That is Good News!