Several years ago, one of our camp counselors become ill toward the end of youth camps. Once Sarah started feeling unwell, things went downhill rather quickly. When she explained to the camp nurse that she was experiencing blurred vision, she was taken to the local hospital where they ran a full gamut of tests. Even so, they could not decide what was wrong.
Eventually her parents got her to a specialist in the cities (that’s Minnesota speak for the Twin Cities: Minneapolis/St.Paul and surrounding areas). He found damage to the optic nerves that may or may not be permanent. What was certain was that if healing was possible, it would take time. He sent her home with the diagnosis of “legally blind”.
All this didn’t stop her from serving. I remember her sister bringing her up for a ladies’ retreat, and even though she was using a walking stick to get around, Sarah was running the big dishwasher while greeting women through the serving window.
God used her to touch a lot of hearts during this time, including a young camper who continued to correspond with Sarah after the summer. The teen she was mentoring gave herself to Christ just shortly before losing her life in a traffic accident, and afterward God used Sarah to comfort the girl’s mother.
For many months we prayed for Sarah, asking the Lord that if would be His will, would He heal her? During a weekend staff reunion in which the young adults studied the power of prayer, the camp staff and her peers laid hands on her and prayed for her healing during every session. At the last session of the last day, she said she had come to terms with the idea that her healing was not going to happen at the retreat, and she was okay with that. But when the closing prayer was said, she opened her eyes and the whole room heard her announce in surprise, “I can see.”
Sarah returned to camp as an intern. We watched her enjoy a blooming relationship with one of our local boys, another Camp JIM counselor, and last January my husband had the honor of marrying them.
It’s easy, when our prayers are answered in the affirmative, to say we believe that God never makes a mistake. But what about the times that healing does not occur? When a loved one dies? When the depression doesn’t lift? When a child walks away from God? When the loss is too great.
I cannot even begin to touch the hem of the hurts that you have lived. Our paths are not the same.
And yet, the Bible tells us that there is one who understands each hurt, every need, every tear. He knows the beginning from the end, and every moment of our lives in between. He knows the what if’s, the endless possibilities and the non-negotiables.
His goal is that we reach spiritual maturity by drawing near to Him, and that our lives would become light houses that beckon others home. In the process, we become vessels who minister to the Lord,
who encourage other believers,
vessels who declare the glory of God–not simply by what we say, but by what we live, because other people are watching, and we exemplify what we believe.
Sometimes it’s the healing that brings about our perfection.
Sometimes it’s the suffering.
The question that begs our attention, when we realize that effectual prayers must be in line with God’s will, is: Are we committed to God’s will?
Do we believe God’s promise, that He works ALL THINGS together for good, for those who love Him?
There is a friend and neighbor of camp who is dying of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This insidious disease causes the death of neurons that control the voluntary muscles of the body, causing their eventual failure, but it doesn’t affect the victim’s ability to think and reason. As their body stops working, they are all too aware of what is happening to them as helpless victims, trapped in their own bodies. This friend, who I will call D, has lost his ability to walk, and he has to be on a breathing machine already. Soon he will lose his ability to talk and swallow. It is heartbreaking for all to watch, especially his family.
Friends from all over the country have been coming every few weeks to visit with D and pray over him, asking God if He will heal our friend. They stay at camp when they come, and they have included our staff in their prayer vigils. So far, while D’s disease has progressed more slowly than the doctors predicted, his condition has continued to worsen.
Why doesn’t God heal D like He healed Sarah?
I don’t know.
Absolutely. D says he will walk over himself to tell us in the event that healing is God’s will. 🙂
But even if God doesn’t heal D, do you know what I see?
I see the Church Body gathering around D regularly to pray for and encourage him. While they are there he asks them about what they are facing, listens to them, discusses with them, and yes–prays for them. They are bearing one another’s burdens.
He is interceding a lot these days. Are you a follower of Christ? He is praying for you.
People come together to minister to D, but they leave with full, light hearts, realizing that they also have been ministered to.
As we pray for his healing, we are encouraged by the grace and strength God is providing for him to handle what is happening to him.
I see D’s trust; I see the peace he is experiencing, despite his circumstances.
I see God’s faithfulness.
And I am amazed.
What do I see? I see God working. In all His mercy, and unfailing, loving kindness, He is working in D and in all of us, and it is a beautiful thing.
Does God make mistakes?
Is it worth it, trusting God’s will?
Effective prayer doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it always changes our hearts.
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:19 ESV
HUGE thanks to Sarah, for giving me permission to share her story and for the use of her wedding picture. All glory to God!
Other photo credit belongs to Pixabay.