Prayer, if you haven't discovered it, can move mountains. When God answers our prayers we stand in awe and shout to the world - "Look what God did!" Giving Him all the glory. It's only right that we should do that. After all, He is God. But sometimes, God doesn't answer prayer and we wait . . . and we wait . . . and we wait some more . . . and during the whole time we are waiting for an answer, two things are going on. God is working behind the scenes and Satan is working overtime putting doubt and anger into our hearts and minds because we aren't getting our prayers answered.
This is when maturity in your faith comes into play. First you have to realize that God is going to answer your prayers, however it might not be how you want them answered. God sees the big picture, you don't. Trust Him to do what is right. You can either accept that God heard you and leave it at that, or you can listen to the voices in your head that are making you doubt in God's love.
When I was in the hospital in 2010, battling a dangerous infection after surgery on my legs, I had one particular night that was horrible. I would say the pain was the worst I have ever experienced (that includes childbirth). My prayers were frantic pleas to God to make it stop, to send a nurse to give me something, to take me now . . . I was beside myself with pain and my thoughts were all over the place.
It was at my moment of deepest despair, of feeling alone in my pain, of being unable to bear it a moment longer, that I heard this in my mind, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It was Jesus' cry from the cross. And I finally got why he screamed that. It wasn't that he felt God had left Him, or was ignoring Him. It was a cry of despair. A cry of frustration. A cry similar to mine. A cry that hid beneath it all the thoughts that were coming to the surface, bubbling over, with no way to control them. A cry of agony over the pain that was crushing him and threatened to swallow him up.
"I'm so afraid, Lord. I feel alone in this, like no one understands."
"I cannot bear this anymore. When will it stop?"
"Are you there? Do you hear me? Please, let me feel your presence so that I know everything will be alright."
"How much longer Lord? I cannot bear it."
Of course my pain was nowhere near what Jesus experienced. But the thing was . . . He experienced it. He understood my heartfelt cries completely and it was at that moment that I knew I wasn't alone and that if my pain continued, I wouldn't like it, but I would be okay with it, because there was a purpose in it. Jesus' pain and His death had a purpose. A glorious purpose that freed us all from sin and the sting of death. Not physical death, but spiritual death, because to be separated from the Father forever would be agony.
I may never know this side of heaven if what I am going through today has any purpose. Right now, I can only see that I write more and blog more. I have enormous amounts of time on my hands actually. I would use it differently if I were able. I would be volunteering somewhere, or visiting with my friends. Maybe even clean my house (my least favourite thing to do, but now I would give anything to be able to do it). But, for now God has ordained that I am to endure daily pain, swollen limbs, infections, sleepless nights, body spasms, and be unable to walk very far or for very long. He has ordained that for me for this time in my life and God has His reasons. And I'm okay with that.
In my book He Who Has an Ear I put it this way:
To refine gold, it must be hot enough to burn away the dross or impurities. It is known as a “refiner’s fire” and this is what Jesus was saying the Laodiceans needed to go through. They needed to be refined or tested so all the dross in them could be cleaned out. Then they would be truly rich. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s this: When God wants to deal with something about me He knows I’m not seeing clearly or haven’t worked towards refining, I can be sure I’ll go through a trial. Of course, when those trials go on for months, one starts to wonder, “What am I not getting?” But it may simply be that the dross is gone but God knows He has to “test the gold,” as it were, to see if it endures.
You see, trials aren’t just to refine us, to make us more like Jesus. They are also sent to strengthen godly attributes. Sometimes God’s glory, like gold, can only shine through us after we have been tested. For some, that may mean a terminal illness, a financial setback, or the loss of a loved one. It is how you deal with those times that will determine how refined you really are.
All that to say this . . . if you are suffering right now and in pain, either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually you are not alone. God has never left you and He never will. He understands more than you could possibly imagine and He has a plan. Rest in that assurance until He comes again, or takes you home. He loves you, He cares about you and He has not forsaken you. Your life is not without purpose and God will use it for His glory no matter what your circumstances.
Trust Him today with what you are going through. He's got you in the palm of His hand.