Have you ever known someone who has been very ill, although after the prayers of multitudes, the person was miraculously healed?? Having the opportunity to experience such firsthand or even as a witness can be an incredible bolster to one’s faith, testimony as well as to the power of prayer which can truly be life changing.
Although what happens when the healing doesn’t come… In the timing… In the way we think…
When the loved one dies, the diagnosis remains… Rather than progress, a feeding tube is the only option… 4 car wheels are permanently swapped for the world in a wheelchair… or yet another negative pregnancy test… What are we to do then?
A very challenging question to ask, yet alone to live out. Although we are going to look further at this question today. To start our journey, let’s turn to John 5 where Jesus is getting ready to attend a festival… Starting in verse 2, “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” After a further exchange… “Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” John 5:1-3, 5-9 NIV
What a powerful proclamation of the hand of our Lord… Here in this story we see a man who has been sitting at the gate begging for 38 years. That’s right. Not three minutes or even hours… We’re talking 38 YEARS!!! 13,870 days waiting… 332,880 hours unable to walk… Thus with all building to a climax of such a miraculous event, I cannot imagine the excitement and the looks on everyone’s face as they watched life restored before their eyes… Purpose once lost, now returned… What a testimony this man became…
Although beyond the healing of this man, let’s look back at verse 3 and we see he wasn’t the only person lame. “Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.”
Now we don’t exactly know the number of “great” referred to here, but for illustration’s sake, I am going to use the number 10… So let’s say if there were 10 people in need of a touch from Jesus and we know the 1 was healed… What about the other 9? Why didn’t they get healed too? Had long had they been waiting and praying?
While we don’t know the dialogue between them, I’m sure they were asking the same questions. Some angry… Some disappointed…. Some wondering if there was something they had done wrong because he had not healed them… Do you find yourselves in their shoes today?
The fact is our healing, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, doesn’t always come here on earth. So the question then becomes: What are we to do?
- Are we to stop praying? No!!!! Our temptation is definitely to do such especially as time ticks by and our patience weans. Yet in our seasons of suffering and waiting, we are to continue to persevere in prayer, calling upon the name of our Lord. He hears us and is near. I would also like to add assurance that it’s okay for you to share your frustrations and other emotions with God too. Whether anger, grief, jealousy of others experiencing healing, brokenness, pain as you long for your healing… I somehow had the concept growing up that Jesus only wanted my smiles but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
We see countless examples throughout the Bible of such including David in Psalms 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.” Psalms 22:1-3 NIV
Or Hannah when she is barren yet wanting a child in 1st Samuel 1. “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.”
Pour your heart out to the Lord. He hears you…
- You can also rest in his peace knowing he sees you.
In Genesis 16, we find the story of Hagar to be a beautiful illustration of this truth. Verse 7 says, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai…The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:7-9, 11, 13 NIV
Just as God saw Hagar, HE SEES YOU. He sees your tears… your fears… your late nights… your brokenness… your pain… He sees you. And his heart breaks with you. You are not alone.
- Thus leading to our next question: Are we to stop going to church or be embarrassed of our struggle? No. Community is even more important as we walk through dark seasons, thus make the most of opportunities to be real and share your burdens with others. Obviously not everyone can nor should know every detail, all the time… But find your people. Your tribe. Brothers and Sisters in Christ who love the Lord and love you and invite them to walk into all the spaces of your world. Allow them to pray with and encourage you. Also, find ways to connect to new people as well, maybe even those going through similar experiences. We can then begin to move from the “why” to “how”. How can I use this situation to help others?
With all things considered, I can attest on a personal level to the deep emotion and struggle when God doesn’t answer prayer. Just in the past 4 months of my life, I’ve had 2 strokes taking away my ability to move and feel all except my right arm, the loss of most of my eye sight and ability to drive, a bad fall causing a sprained ankle, blood clots, multiple allergic reactions and a week in the hospital because of an infection that went sepsis… I share all not to cause pity, but to say I get it… I haven’t received my healing in full yet. I know it’s not a matter of if God can, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood confident of their God’s ability to save/heal when it came down to being thrown in the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel… Although I am choosing that even if he doesn’t, I will praise Him. Even if I don’t eat again, still I will praise him. Even if I don’t walk again, still I will praise him. Even if I don’t see or drive again, still I will praise him. This earth may seem all consuming yet reality is it is temporary and we can look forward to Heaven, where all things will forever be made new.
So in the meantime, the continual prayer on my heart is his will to be done in my life and that he would use me for his glory. Not an easy prayer to pray all the time, but I promise even in your waiting, he will be faithful in getting you through and you just might be surprised in all he teaches you… “Even if…”