This post comes from some Facebook messages that were exchanged many years ago. I'm sharing it with you now in hopes that it helps you wrestle with and explain to others how they respond to God when they're haunted by the challenge that their own faith might be causing them to miss out on His best in their lives.
The mother who wrote me the message was spending her days at Vanderbilt Children's hospital with her 2 year old hooked up to life-saving devices because she'd been diagnosed with leukemia.
(Remember this was many years ago...)
A few weeks ago, I received this facebook message from a friend:
“Hey Leighann, I am struggling with all the Scripture that people teach about having enough "faith" and people will be healed. I feel so stuck, I feel like I am still processing most of what we went through…before my daughter was sick, I just thought being a Christian meant that God was just gonna bless my life and not have any bumps along the way. Especially sickness—and having to deal with the sickness of my child?! I still feel angry. I feel like I had a hard time "trusting" my life to God before Leukemia now..........I am scared.
I am just tired of reading Scripture or hearing someone preach and hearing about healing and not really knowing how to respond to the Bible. I don’t want to feel like, "oh well, skip over that verse because not everyone is healed.”
Here are some of the verses I struggle with:
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” James 5:15
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:22
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
Here is how I responded to this hurting momma:
These are challenging verses and they all encourage us to pray with faith with the promise that when we do so we will receive what we're asking for. They haunt me!! I'm being totally honest.
Do we not have enough faith?
We certainly pray!! And just when I wonder if my lack of faith relegates me to a life of less than God’s best, I'm reminded of one of my favorite Jesus healing stories in Mark 9:14-29. This is the story of the father who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples. But when the disciples tried to release the boy from the demon, they were unsuccessful. Once Jesus arrived on the scene, he quickly assessed the situation. When the boy's father begged for Jesus' help, he confessed his unbelief. And Jesus encouraged the father’s weak faith by performing the miracle! I ask God all the time to do that for me. I want God to increase my faith by performing miracles!
"Lord, help my unbelief!"
With that story, I'm comforted to realize that God takes my lack of faith into account when I pray. That doesn't dismiss me from exercising faith and working on increasing it--but it compels me to spend more time focusing on these facts:
When we really absorb these truths we can rest in whatever today brings.
Here's how it works--we were saved to escape death, and to live forever with God in heaven. Never, in all of Scripture are we assured of lives here on earth that are void of suffering. Consider these verses:
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12
All of these verses point to the fact that suffering will occur in our lives as we live out our days on earth. Sin, sickness, disease, natural disasters, even our children making their own choices that break our hearts are all part of the suffering and the rain that comes to us even though we are dearly loved children of God. But when these things come we have what the world cannot offer: We have peace (Philippians 4:6-7) and we know where we're all ultimately headed! (Ephesians 1:9-10).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” Ephesians 1:9-10
The best I can resolve this is to come honestly before God with my broken heart and my desperate desire--pour that out in prayer (remembering that I am tiny and He is BIG; and remembering that He knows a whole lot that I do not...AND remembering that He is good, He is for me and He loves me.)
Then, I make effort minute-by-minute to live humbly waiting for miracles (because Jesus challenged me to believe for those); patient if they are not coming (understanding that eventually what confuses me will make sense); and trying my best to use the struggle to take hold of His promises and insist that He bless me.