Even when we don’t think we’re putting God in a box, we are. Why? Because that’s the only way our earthly minds can conceive of Him. He’s too massive for us to see all of Him all at once. Yet there are times when we give Him a shoebox rather than a boxcar.
Now you’re like “Whaaaa….?” and trying to figure out what this has to do with the title of my blog post. Hee hee.
Disclaimer: I greatly appreciate any and all who pray for me. Don’t think for a moment that I don’t! Keep praying that I will experience physical healing! I have faith for it and desire it, and I’m glad you have faith for it and desire it for me as well. Moving right along….
Some people pray that I will be healed physical, “miraculously,” and in a very SPECIFIC way. They want me to get up and walk; they want me to have NO pain; they want me to be able to have a good job again; they want good things for me. I’m not one bit opposed to such prayers and such blessings. I agree with them! In fact, I’ll take D) All of the Above. 😀
However, the above requests to God become a problem when the people praying for these specific things feel that God has not answered when the healing doesn’t come in the SPECIFIC WAYS THEY expected it to. If I don’t get up and walk; if I still have pain; if I cannot go back to work; if life stays “hard”…they can miss God’s answers and the real MIRACLES He IS doing because they’ve put Him into a shoebox rather than a boxcar. Or because they’ve made themselves “God” and made God their butler, however unintentionally.
Oftentimes I can tell when I’m speaking to a person in this category because when I speak of what the Lord has taught/shown me over the years as I’ve lived through suffering, they don’t seem to be listening. They are still focused on the suffering rather than the blessing, and it hinders their view. They are stuck on the temporal rather than being captivated by the eternal. I can’t exactly expect that the jewels of vision and wisdom mined from the quarries of pain would be so cherished to one who is not a miner, who has not chipped away at the mine stones with the pick and shovel of faith for years. Yet it pains me to think that some see my suffering as less valuable than I do, as producing little fruit and being, therefore, expendable. Not necessarily as “pointless,” but…not as “divinely purposeful” either…perhaps just a nuisance of living in a “fallen world”.
These jewels of hope, wisdom, courage, and faithfulness that can weather the storms of life, these gifts from God, are PRECIOUS. These ARE the MIRACLES and the ANSWERS to our prayers! They are the HEALING; evidence of soul-healing rather than body-healing! We often pray to be better witnesses of Christ to a lost world, and if my witness is made stronger by my weakness (which is exceeded by the strength of Christ in God), that too is a beautiful answer to my/our prayers. We often pray for more grace, but receiving more grace corresponds with having an increased need of it, and as the need increases, His grace abounds all the more. We pray that we might be more faithful, not expecting situations to arise to challenge us and give us opportunity to grow. Perhaps infamously, we pray for patience (need I say more about this one?).
I’ve had enthusiastic Christians come up to me in church as well as in random public places, desiring to pray that I would be healed fully right then and there, in that moment. You know what? I’m okay with that. I’d love that! So I join them in prayer with all my heart, asking in faith once more for the Lord to bring relief to my suffering. I have no doubt that He CAN do it. I have no doubt that in His timing He WILL do it. But as my enthusiastic Christian friend finishes praying and steps back, expecting me to rise from my wheelchair and jump for the first time in 12 years, and my legs continue to tell me “standing up isn’t happening!,” I sometimes see this friend’s face sink. It might be ironic, but I think my new friend feels infinitely more dejected than I do because I wasn’t “miraculously (physically) healed” in that moment.
This often leads to questions. I’ve been asked and have answered most of them before. Some question whether or not I TRULY want to be healed. (Of course I do!) Some, frustrated at that moment that their prayers seemed to fall on a deaf god’s ears, will say, “But wouldn’t it be such a testimony to God’s power if He raised you up here and now so that people would say “Look how great God is to heal her!”?” “Certainly!,” I answer, “but even the most visible miracles people will forget or deny, even giving credit/glory to others rather than to God. Look at the Old Testament Israelites. We are no better; we’re forgetful. While many may see and believe and praise God, just as many may see and believe for a time, but then forget the things the Lord God “did in [their] midst”. How much more powerful might be the testimony of a saint who experiences daily affliction but who remains faithful, by God’s power, until the very end of his/her life despite the suffering? Now that! – THAT! – is something people have a harder time forgetting. THAT is a miracle that requires more of God’s power than physical healing – the miracle of healing a heart and guiding it in the ways of the Lord. God gives me the ability to empathize with others’ sufferings and to encourage them because of the encouragement He has given me through His Spirit. I wouldn’t trade that if given the choice. I keep praying that God will use me as He sees fit, in whatever way will give Him the most glory from my short life. “In sickness and in health,” I am His, to be used for His purposes, and I find peace in that which transcends my felt need for physical healing. Suffering is a vehicle for my sanctification. I have faith to believe He will heal me in His timing, and today just wasn’t that day. Don’t stop praying for me.
Still, I feel sad for folks in this situation, as I tend to be happier with the outcome of my circumstances than they do. I am blessed because I SEE THE MIRACLES. Let’s keep looking for miracles that don’t fit into our “God shoebox,” but which take up a “God boxcar” instead.