Talking to Kids About Healing
In life, we are all eventually confronted by illness and death. When speaking to children about delayed healing or serious illness, we often seek ways to adjust our language and shield them from the realities of the disease. While it is our responsibility to help children process these concepts in terms they can understand, we shouldn’t avoid giving them the truth. Our goal must be to present the hope that we find in God’s Word and the Gospel. At times, it is hard to understand God’s perfect plan for our lives, but it is essential to learn and teach our children to put their complete trust in God.
Divine, Immediate Healing
We must teach our children to know that God hears and answers all prayers. When it comes to healing, one way God responds is through divine healing that happens immediately.
As a college student, I struggled with stomach ulcers. I had taken a few trips to the emergency room and was trying to control the pain through diet and medication. During a Sunday night service, I asked the elders of the church to anoint me and pray for my healing. At that moment, the ulcers in my stomach were healed. God completely healed me. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).
In Matthew 9, we find a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. She had spent much money going to doctors for treatment. “For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.’ But Jesus turned around, and when he saw her He said, ‘Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was made well from that hour” (Matthew 9:22 NKJV).
Sometimes God provides delayed healing, or as I describe it to children “not now, but later.” We serve a God who is always on time, but we must trust His timetable.
At the age of 26, I faced a breast cancer diagnosis. I had experienced healing many times in my life and believed that God could immediately remove my cancer. I prayed, my family prayed, and many times I called on the elders of the church to pray. God would provide healing, but it would not come immediately. In time, I learned that this would be a journey I would walk for God’s glory.
After chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, I was completely healed of breast cancer. My treatments opened doors for opportunities for my secular job. Many people saw the power of God at work in my life through this journey. At times, our journey is not always about us, but it is an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed through us.
In John 11, we read that Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother was sick. They had faith that if Jesus came, their brother Lazarus would be healed. Jesus response was “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 NKJV). Jesus didn’t drop everything and run to them, but he stayed two more days where he was.
During this delay, Lazarus died, and many people from the city came to mourn with Mary and Martha. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. As we know, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead that day. As a result, many were able to encounter a more profound revelation of Jesus. Jesus was much more than a Healer; He was the Resurrection. That day was not about Mary, Martha, or Lazarus. It was about a group of people needing to see who Jesus was. Jesus was not late, but right on time! What journey would you be willing to go through for those around you to see who Jesus is?
A third way God answers prayers is “No, I have something better for you.” For most of my childhood, I had an uncle that had kidney disease. I prayed more times than I could count for his complete healing. I learned that healing doesn’t always come on this earth. At times, healing comes with a new body in heaven. We must trust God has a perfect plan. Although my Uncle Glen is no longer on earth, I know he has a new body in heaven today.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh that he prayed to be removed from him. God’s answer was clear that His grace is enough. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. My Uncle Glen’s sickness was a thorn in the flesh that had to be endured. He too reached many people through his journey, and his true healing came in heaven with a new body.
I am thankful to know God loves me enough to answer all my prayers. I must be reminded at times that God will answer them in different ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV).
—Kim Batson, Tennessee State Children’s Ministries Director
As published in the July 2019 Issue, White Wing Messenger
Tips for Talking to Kids About Healing
Let the child know that we trust that God can heal. The Bible contains more than 30 stories of the sick being healed. As appropriate, share a testimony of your healing. We should always pray for the healing of those who are sick (James 5:16).
God does miracles, and God brings healing. It’s only natural to want ourselves or someone we love to be healed immediately. In Bible times, as well as today, some people were healed instantly, while others were healed over time. Help the child understand both. When someone is made well instantly, that’s a miracle. When they are healed over time, that’s healing.
God always heals. In cases of serious, chronic, or terminal illness, it’s okay to let kids know that sometimes people don’t get better. When someone is dying or dies, it is natural to mourn the loss of them. However, we should remind them that if that person dies in Christ, the Bible tells us that they will live on for eternity with Him, and one day we can celebrate with them in Heaven because of Christ’s death on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:55).
We can trust God no matter what happens. It’s okay to let kids know that you have prayed for healings that sometimes didn’t come or were delayed. In those times, we must choose to trust in God. He loves us. He feels our pain when we are sad or disappointed. No matter what happens, He still loves us and gives us hope for a future where there will be no more illness or death (Revelation 21:4).
—Shaun McKinley , International Children’s Ministries Director