Part of my goal on this blog is to encourage you in the midst of real life, a life that can sometimes be pretty hard.
While we’ve focused on the benefits of prayer, I want to acknowledge that our prayers are not always answered. What do we do with that? How do you honor God and keep our hope in him when it seems like he’s not listening to us?
In the Spring of 2009, I began to feel God telling me to pray for my mom’s healing. She had been paralyzed in a car accident 9 years earlier and had been an incomplete quadriplegic ever since. I found it a bit odd to feel the prompting again, as I’d kind of given up on the idea that she’d ever be healed.
So, I started praying. I asked my women’s group to pray, also. Now, I’m not going to say that I prayed for hours each day or even that I prayed each and every day, but I was praying for her complete healing.
At the end of March, there was a quick succession of events over a few days and she ended up on full life support in the ICU.
What the heck?
I pray for healing and she ends up basically dying?
She was in ICU for many weeks as they tried to figure out how to help her. Then, slowly, she started to get better. She was moved to a rehab center to work on getting off the tracheotomy.
I was praying all during this time and continuing to ask for prayers from others. Her home church and town were praying for her.
She was scheduled to come home on Monday or Tuesday, June 8th or 9th. Then, on Sunday the 7th of June, after a few days of feeling a little under the weather, she died.
I wept. I screamed at God. I grieved. I screamed more. I was surrounded by a dark cloud for so long. I couldn’t hear God. I didn’t feel His comfort. When I read the Bible, it felt dead and lifeless. I just went through the motions.
I kept asking, “Why?”
After a very long time, I finally heard God again. Slowly the pain lessened. It took a while for my faith to recover, though. In the 7 and a half years since then, I’ve really pressed into God for answers and understanding. Some of what I feel like God has shown me has been hard to swallow. But, it has been helpful.
Why? is not the right question
It’s natural to ask why when you don’t understand. Yet, there are times when that question just does not help. Part of being human is acknowledging that we have a limited capacity to understand what God knows. Even if God told us why, the likelihood is that it still wouldn’t make sense.
Instead of asking why, I now aim to ask for his comfort, for his healing in my heart, and for the ability to move forward.
God NEVER leaves you
Even if you can’t feel His presence. Those dark months following my mom’s death felt completely lonely. I had family and friends around, but that didn’t even help.
When my mom actually died, I didn’t get a chance to go be with her. It all happened so fast. I had to listen over the phone as she died. I was standing completely alone in the middle of a church courtyard.
Quite some time later, like maybe 2 years, God showed me where I had been standing. I was standing in the very same place I first gave my life to Him. It was a series of strange events that had led me to that place that day. God told me, “I brought you to that very place so that you would know that I was and am with you. I have never left you.” Then, believe it or not, He had to remind me that I was also pregnant. So, even though I felt alone, I was not alone at all.
God. Never. Leaves. Us.
No matter how life feels, you can remind yourself that God IS with you and He is working to help you.
Our hope is in God, not our circumstance or experience
Many years after my Mom’s death, there was an urgent request to pray for a young father who had ended up in ICU with multiple organs failing.
When I started to pray, I thought, “Maybe I should just pray for his family’s comfort for his coming death. I’ve prayed before for people to be miraculously healed and they died. I’m probably not the person for this job.”
I heard God’s voice so clearly.
He said, “I do not desire for his wife to be a widow or his son to be fatherless. Let go of the past and pray!”
He was miraculously healed. Even the doctors called it a miracle.
Through that, God showed me that my faith is in God, in the promises He has spoken through the Bible and in His faithfulness. I can’t base my faith in God on only what I’ve seen in my own life. I have to believe in Him in His fullness, in His perfection, not in my limited view of Him.
Prayer is powerful. We should be praying for everything.
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7 NIV)
God is faithful and He is good.
Some prayers will be answered how we want and some won’t. Some will be answered far beyond our wildest expectations.
I assure you, life will be better with a rich prayer life than without one. Even with the unanswered prayers sprinkling our path.
God loves you and desires good things for you. Prayer is our chance to join Him is His good work on this earth.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)