My cousin just had his third baby boy. Sweet Jacob Leo. 5 days later, he passed away. Crushing. Devastating. Why. Why? My dear friend Kelly, lost her husband and was left with 2 fun, energetic, amazing boys. And we prayed. We asked God to heal. We wanted Him to help. This is what she wrote regarding suffering and prayer during that time. May it be a sweet comfort:
I read a great chapter in an Elisabeth Elliott book entitled, "On Asking God Why". This particular chapter was written by her brother, Thomas Howard. I believe he wrote it shortly after Elisabeth's second husband died of cancer. He addressed the "what about all the prayers" question. What about all the prayer vigils, the fasting, elders laying hands and anointing oil, etc etc. Yet, God remained silent and deliverance did not come.
Thomas writes of why is it that Jesus seemed to heal a complete stranger and yet, even those in His closest circle were not healed. For instance, John the Baptist was beheaded and James was killed in prison. What about Paul who had a healing ministry and the handkerchiefs that were sent out from him that brought healing to others, did not heal himself. After much pleading, God still did not take away the thorn in his flesh. God is mysterious and His ways are unsearchable.
Thomas writes, "We prayed, with much faith or with little; we searched ourselves; we fasted; we anointed and laid on hands; we kept vigil. And nothing happened. Did it not? What angle of vision are we speaking from? Is it not true that again and again in the biblical picture of things, the story has to be allowed to finish?" Were the prayers lost? Did they have any effect? Thomas then says, "Hadn't they? How do you know what is piling up in the great treasury kept by the Divine Love to be opened in that Day. How do you know that this death and your prayers and tears and fasts will not together be suddenly and breathtakingly displayed, before all the faithful, and before angels and archangels, and before kings and widows and prophets, as gems in that display? Oh no, don't speak of things being lost. Say rather that they are hidden-received and accepted and taken up into the secrets of the divine mysteries, to be transformed and multiplied, like everything else we offer to him--loaves and fishes, or mites, or bread and wine-and given back to you and to the one for whom you kept vigil, in the presence of the whole host of men and angels, in a hilarity of glory as unimaginable to you in your vigil as golden wings are to the worm in the chrysalis."
One of my pastors, Nate, just this weekend helped me to have a little perspective on the prayer issue. We were talking and he said, "I guess it all depends on what the purpose of prayer is". "Is it to get our requests (which certainly God grants) or is it to know God" God wants us to ask Him for things, but ultimately He wants us to know Him. I think many of us can atest to the fact that we have grown closer to the Lord through this and through our prayers for Erik's healing. Does that make it easier? No way, but that still doesn't change the truth that God is deeping our relationship with Him. God is mysterious and His ways are unsearchable, but our prayers are not in vain.
I am clinging to Him and seeking to give Him the desires of my heart including praying for healing for friends who have health issues including cancer. Is it easy? No. Does God want me to trust Him? Yes! I still wrestle and will continue to, but oh how i want to trust Him!
enough for now.... love, kelly