God whispered to me, “Pray for her and I will heal her.” I believed Him and prayed, thinking she would overcome her illness. She deteriorated. I wondered about God’s words, yet continued to pray for her, not for healing as much as for comfort. She died last week. My first thought was, “He did it; now she is healed.”
Chambers says our faith must be tested. One of those tests concerns what we actually believe. How do I interpret God’s promises? For my friend, first I thought He would make her physically well in this life. Now I realize that He planned perfect healing for her in His presence. She without illness for eternity, never to struggle and suffer again.
Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick and died. Jesus wept, but not because Lazarus was dead; He knew that would not last . . .
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:38–40)
Martha and her sister, Mary, experienced a test of their faith. In this case, Jesus told them, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said she believed he would “rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (verse 23-24), but that was not what Jesus meant by His promise. He brought Lazarus back to life on that very day.
Many of God’s promises could mean at least a couple of things. Another example is this one:
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)
If I am praying for an unsaved person, I could call on God to fulfill this in that person’s life, but does He mean that ‘every tongue confess’ in their life on this planet? I know that all will be resurrected, some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation. All will recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but not all of them will do it willingly. I can pray that a person will bow the knee to Jesus and confess He is Lord because that is a great prayer, but I cannot claim that He will do it this week or even in their lifetime.
One thing I most like about being a Christian is that God continually surprises me. I have no idea what He is going to do next, and I’ve never been able to second-guess Him. His ways are loftier than mine; His thinking is far greater and wiser, above all that I can ask or imagine.
For that reason, I need to be wary of assumptions. Even though I have faith, my faith is in Him and in His choices and decisions, not in events or actions that I want or predict. Tested faith eventually realizes that whatever happens next is up to the Lord.