My family has been going through a rough time lately. My wife is in chronic pain that, at times, leaves her unable to move. She’s been so brave. But this struggle has been so long. And so far, there’s no end in sight. The doctors are confused. We’re confused. Everybody’s confused.
My wife’s been faithful to seek out medical advice, and we’ve also been passionately praying for God to heal her. I even anointed her with coconut oil the other day. I figured the Bible says to anoint with oil, and it was the only oil I had. Yet so far, nothing. Maybe coconut oil takes longer than olive oil. At one point, God did give her two weeks of amazing relief so that we could continue a speaking trip, but God still has yet to fully heal her body. And that brings me to the two truths in Scripture that don’t seem to mesh very well, but are important.
Truth #1: We are to pray for healing, with faith, because God heals miraculously.
The Bible–both Old and New Testaments–are FULL, and I mean FULL, of examples of God’s healing. One of the most memorable stories is found in Matthew 8, where a centurion tells Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus marvels. Wait what?! Marvels? God-the-Son marveling at something said by a human? That’s what it says. Jesus marveled at this guy’s faith and heals the centurion’s servant.
But the New Testament makes even bigger claims than what is expressed in the centurion’s story. It goes on to say that we–you and I–can ask anything in Jesus’ name, and he will do it.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14)
According to Jesus, the one who healed the centurion’s servant, we will do greater works than Jesus did because it will bring the Father glory. In my limited understanding, would not my wife’s healing be something that would bring God a tremendous amount of glory? Maybe I should try the coconut oil again.
So truth #1: God heals miraculously, and we are to pray and ask God for things because He will do them. But that still leaves the question, why won’t God heal my wife?
Truth #2: We are to pray for God’s will to be done. Jesus, moments before he would be brutally beaten and murdered, asked God to take away his pain. He asked God for another way to save humanity from sins. But then he said a few key words that we have to remember–especially when we are asking God to do something. Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). And guess what, God didn’t answer Jesus desperate prayer to be rescued.
I’m reminded of the story of Job. Like Jesus, it was God’s will for Job to suffer. And when Job questioned God, out of his pain and loneliness, God did not give Job the answer Job expected. Instead of explaining to Job why he had lost his family, his wife, his friends and his health, God asked Job a series of powerful questions (Job 38-41). Look at Job’s response to God in 42 after God is done–not answering Job, but questioning him,
Job answered God,
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
I don’t know how the two truths we’ve discussed mesh together. I know they’re true. I know God answers prayer and heals miraculously. I also know God’s will will be done, and we are to ask for it. In fact, we should desire God’s will ABOVE our own healing and our own desires. And although our little human brains–okay, my little human brain–may not be able to justify these two concepts, there’s still a powerful lesson for my wife and I to remember–and for you to remember too (I’m guessing there have been times in your life where you asked God for something and he didn’t answer in the way you expected)–God is God. God is in control. His will will be done. Because it’s what’s best for His glory and our good. Did you catch that last part? God’s will is what’s best for His glory AND OUR GOOD. I don’t know how my wife’s pain, and the strain of her pain on our family is going to work out for our good. But it will. It probably already has, and in the future, when we look back on this moment we will see it. God is working good in your life too. How am I so sure? Because God loved you enough to NOT answer the request of his own son for deliverance, and still sent Jesus to die for you.