By Dr Chua How Chuang
As I gradually gained consciousness from my cancer surgery, I became increasingly aware that I was still on earth and not in heaven. God has given me some more time on earth, however, long or short that may be. Over the last two months, as I was recovering and preparing for chemotherapy, something began to well deep within me: a longing to be with Jesus. I started thinking about heaven more and more. At the same time, I knew that many people were earnestly praying for my healing.
I found myself caught somewhat in a tension, not unlike what Paul felt in Philippians 1:22-23. It was as if the Lord was asking me, “Rather than being healed, don’t you want to be with Me in a perfectly joyous place where there is no pain and suffering?”
Indeed when a loved one or we ourselves fall critically ill, our immediate reaction is to pray for healing. I wonder if that reaction does not reflect an unconscious love for the things of this world than of things above.
When a Christian finally dies and enters heaven, I imagine that his first thought would be, “Why didn’t I come here earlier?” Our loved ones who have gone before us must be enjoying heaven so much that they are yearning for us to join them sooner than later, even as we are grieving their loss here on earth.
If heaven is so wonderful, should we then stop praying for healing? No, that would be taking the other extreme position. The Bible records many instances of healing, and indeed encourages prayer for healing. 1 Peter 4:2 provides a good reason for such prayer, so that one “does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil desires, but rather for the will of God.” In other words, before praying for healing, we should first think about how we want to live the rest of our earthly lives according to His will. We must find good reasons before the Lord to pray for healing.
And so as I contemplate my own mortality, I have also come to clarify why I want to exercise faith and ask the Lord for restoration: for the sake of my wife and two-year-old daughter, my parents and in-laws whom I want to send off ahead of me, and to complete what God has called me to do in Japan. As I bring my heart’s desires before Him, and at the same time continue to look forward to my “everlasting rest,” my heart is filled with His peace. I am reassured that the outcome of my illness can only be a good one.
We would appreciate your continuing prayers for us.