There was prayer for healing at this morning’s prayer meeting. Later, as we looked at Psalm 27, the question was asked, what do you fear. My immediate thought was that I fear arriving at a place where I no longer having the faith to petition God at all.
Nobody panic! The bigger picture is, I believe, a positive one. Impressed by something I heard a while ago from Spacious Places, an addiction treatment centre in Leeds, I’ve been thinking more about the healthiness of living life on life’s terms. Resistance to what is, is a path to frustration, stress, false self, disconnection, poor health, addiction, anger, pain. Serenity, it seems to me, is an utterly beautiful state of being. It is also a state of being that I believe Jesus longed for so much for us, that he modelled it to the point of utter, humiliating surrender.
My thoughts do also come from a place of disappointment. Like you, time and time again I watch people around me and in the news, seemingly robbed of life in all its fullness because of physical and mental health problems and circumstances that were forced upon them. I do believe that healing can be far deeper, far more eternal and far less obvious than we might demand, but that doesn’t take away from the pain that is real to so many. And when those situations continue in the midst of faithful prayer, it’s right to seek to learn something from it. Years ago, I was with a group of Christians, praying for the sun to shine on our event – literally for the rain clouds to blow away. To this day, I don’t believe there was anything wrong with that prayer. But I’ve also never forgotten words shared later by someone who was with us, whose son died in the 2004 Tsunami and who found it difficult to join such prayers when God had not stopped the waters that day. She stood with us, though, and that says a lot.
Why do these thoughts unsettle me? Questioning is right, doubt is normal, and I’m not averse to any of that. Equally, I’ve learnt a lot and my relationship with God feels stronger and based on a greater degree of understanding (which is partly to accept that I do not understand at all!). I think I may be afraid that one day I will lose hope, despite feeling very far from that point right now. However, today I’m confident of this: Prayer changes me and it changes you. And if we’re changed, then we behave differently (better). That seems a pretty good start. I also feel confident that to yield is to overcome. Surrender is essential to the story moving forward, but forward it does go, as it did with the resurrection and the Christ. And I do still remain confident of hope, of His will done on Earth as it is in Heaven and, to end with the Psalm where we began: “I’m confident...that I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”