Sitting on the floor, gathered around this loved one, I asked God to grant her healing. Then I sobbed. I knew the emotions were likely to present themselves in an ugly way. Deep in my heart, however, I knew/know that my feelings did and do not determine who God is.
I was invited to join a group of women to pray for my friend’s sister who lives in chronic pain. We believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God who heals our diseases. However, as the evening approached, I felt apprehension fill my heart. Would my struggles with unanswered prayer (more accurately: a big fat no to my request) hinder any power in this evening of prayer because of my anxiety towards the situation?
I truly do believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God who gives good things. It’s just that reality causes me to wrestle with some unbelief in my heart. When my dad died in February of 2008, I was faced with a choice. Would I blame God? (If He truly is all-powerful, He could have healed my dad from cancer like I requested.) Or would I run into His arms? (If He really is all-loving, His love for me remains even in my disbelief). Did His apparent lack of response to my pleading change the very truth I had always been taught? Do my feelings get to define the Truth?
I can’t help but think of my own parenting when I consider my disappointment with God. There are many times my children make a request that I am quite capable of granting. And while I love my children, I still say “no” a lot of the time to their begging and pleading. Blessed with more knowledge and wisdom then my kids, I know that not everything they ask for is beneficial. My children are quick to express their disappointment with the situation. It will not change the truth of my love from them. As a matter of fact, it may just be that in denying them their demands, love is better expressed than if I would grant their every wish. In their frustration, my girls may not be able to comprehend my love. This does not change my love.
How does this come into play when my Heavenly Father apparently ignores my appeals? Honestly, I still wish that my dad was here on this earth. There are many moments where I feel his absence and desire to have him share this life with us. However, the growth I have experienced in my relationship with God due to the loss of my earthly father is something I would like to believe my dad would have died willingly for. What greater desire is there for a Christ-follower than to know their children are walking in the truth? (3 John 1:4)
As I sat on the floor at the feet of this woman loved by the God who has the power to heal her, I shared my heart. Among these women-of-faith, I was faced again with my disappointment that God did not heal my dad in the way I had believed He would. What did this mean for the woman sitting there in pain? Did I believe God could heal her? Did I believe He would heal her? The well of emotions I thought had been dealt with sprung up fresh and in abundance. “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-29) As my heart poured into prayer that evening, I didn’t know if God would choose to heal the woman our prayers were centered around. And yet, simply by praying, I was reminded that the power of prayer is not in our requests or the even the faith of those who are lifting them to God. The power is in the One we pray to. Just by asking, I am trusting and saying I believe He is who He says He is.
While I struggle with unbelief, I fill my soul with Truth and know that one day I will understand more fully. Until that day, I will continue to trust that in my immaturity, I cannot possibly understand my Father’s unconditional love. And yet, His love still remains. My feelings do not get to determine God’s love. For he is the very definition of love. (1 John 4:8)