So yesterday, in the span of an hour, I had 3 people, independent of each other, ask me the same questions. "Lance, what do you do when God doesn't heal everyone? How do you pray with strong faith? What do you do when things are working against you?" As if that was not strange enough, 2 of the 3 quoted a famous verse as their foundation for why everything should work out the way they want - "no weapon formed against me shall prosper."
These situations got me thinking. And to clarify - no, I'm not making a case for why God doesn't heal everyone the way I want. Yes, every time I pray for someone to be healed, I swing for the fences. Meaning, I don't say, "Lord, if it's your will...". I'm convinced healing is His will.
So what do I do?
First, I realize I may not see the situation the same way as Jesus sees it. This fact comes to the surface when you think of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 men (not including women and children). Do you remember the story? The disciples suggest that Jesus send the folks away because it's late in the day and they are hungry. Jesus said He was not going to do that, and as a matter of fact (and faith) He instructed the disciples to get them something to eat. They could not fathom such an idea and made a compelling case as to why that was not possible. Without arguing, He asked for what they had. It was a few loaves and fishes. With that little meal, He fed the 5,000 (plus women and children). There is one particular point that fascinates me about this story. In the 6th chapter of John's gospel, John tells us that Jesus already had in mind what He was going to do. Before the situation was a situation, Jesus knew what He was going to do about the situation. He saw what the disciples did not see. For that reason alone, it's impossible to create a case against Jesus for why He did, or did not do something that I thought should have been done, no matter how grievous or unjust. He sees what we don't see.
Am I saying God allows human trafficking, genocide, infant death, disease or natural disasters because He is so much smarter than we are? No!!!! The church has been put here on the earth to eradicate evil and establish what N.T. Wright calls, "The New Exodus." We are to build God's kingdom here in the human heart, through the power of the gospel. But the long game of our adversary is to wait us out, to leverage disappointment and to sow seeds of despair into the soil of "unanswered prayer."
Many times we don't see the situation the way Jesus sees it. That's why He responded differently than the disciples to the masses. So, how does this relate to the original 3 questions asked of me by my friends?
I pray for a miracle, but if it does not happen according to what I am praying or the way I think it should, I pause and consider, "Maybe Jesus sees the circumstance or situation in front of me differently than I do."
Do I trust His wisdom?
Is He still good?
Will I let disappointment take root in my heart?
Will I keep swinging for the fences?
Second, how do I find the Light of Hope in the Fog of Uncertainty?
1. Go to the secret place of prayer.
3. Have a better belief.
"Papa, I'm not getting the breakthroughs, the miracles that you promised in the scriptures. What does this mean? What do you want me to believe? How do you want me to think about this?"
4. Do something based upon a new belief.
After the Father reveals to me His thoughts and His perspective, I do what He says to do. Remember the feeding of the 5,000? When Jesus told them what He was going to do, He had the disciples divide the people into groups, distribute the food and then gather the leftovers. Them doing ministry was rooted in a new belief and in a new perspective. I want to know what God wants me to believe and then how to live this "new belief".
When I practice those 4 tips, I find myself standing strong against despair and disappointment, and at the same time, I stay focused on the goodness of God, which shows up in a miracle working power of love and compassion.
Stay hopeful friends....