Days, weeks, months, years, and even decades can pass without so much as a smidgen of the change we are seeking.
Things can actually get worse.
More challenges, problems, trials and tribulations occur and we wonder where God is in all of this.
Can't He see, hear or understand how desperate we are?
What if God answered but the answer doesn't look or feel as we think it should?
I've been praying (and been prayed for) for physical healing for many years now.
What has happened? Some brief respite and remissions have occurred but none of them were sustained nor led to a deeper, more lasting change for the good.
Rather, a general decline has taken place, leading to a worsening in symptoms over the last five years as I've become more housebound and incapacitated. Has God failed to answers those prayers?
I thought that He didn't want me to be healed for some reason, or I wasn't ready to receive it. Perhaps healing was being delayed for a more optimal time of God's choosing.
Only our heavenly Father loves us too much to take any pleasure in prolonging suffering. His greatest desire is for us to be healed and made whole and healing is rarely a one-off event; His healing work takes us on a journey toward complete healing and wholeness in every area of our lives.
Time is needed for real, lasting alteration. Our healing journey will encompass every facet of our lives, character, personality and calling. No two people will have the same path to travel.
I'm not the same person I used to be. A deep inner work of transformation is still going on in me and in you as we are made to be more like Jesus, changed from glory to glory, little by little. And it can feel like everything we are and know is being painfully pulled in a new direction as we rail against or resist being renewed in God's way.
What if the healing I seek looks more like: teaching me to be teachable, adaptable and receptive, changing my perceptions, defensive walls coming down, altering my outlook and world view? Isn't this still God at work?
It also looks like:deeper emotional healing, a restored marriage, strengthening of faith, hope, courage to tell my story, growing commitment to Christ, drawing me to a closer walk with Him, new priorities, new relationships and friendships, new outlets and opportunities, new kingdom-calling. All gifts of grace, all aspects of wholeness, all treasures mined in dark places, all to be recognised and thankful for.
On the outside, seeing my physical body weakening with M.E and other chronic health problems, it doesn't look good at all. But on the inside, with eyes open to see, I know my soul is being cleansed and healed, my spirit is flourishing in His Presence, and I am changing as He sees fit.
God works holistically with us. His desire is to make us like His Son and He's continually working in us for that purpose. Though the paradox of the 'now but not yet Kingdom' we are in is that complete healing in this lifetime is not a given.
It is painfully easy to look for the negative and see only darkness, struggle and stress. It's not a good place to be in. When our focus is on what God has already done and is doing, rather than on what He hasn't, then we can learn to live with peace and thankfulness in the midst of our current circumstances, instead of contending with discouragement, frustration and impatience.
God may be saying these words to you too, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" ~ Isaiah 43:18-19
My friend, I am a wilderness and valley dweller too. You are not alone. It's a dry, dusty, bleak and barren spot to be in. As we allow the rivers of grace to wash and refresh us each day, as we lean on His mercy and rely on His love to sustain us in our weary pilgrimage, the journey will not seem so arduous.
Rest your head on God's shoulders; let Him carry you and bear every load that weighs heavy. He knows how hard it has been and may still be.
Believe that He is at work on your behalf and much goes on in the spiritual realms that earthly eyes cannot see. Reach out. Take His hand and walk with Him into the days He has planned to give you hope and a future.
One day all will be revealed. One day, all pain, suffering, sickness and struggle will cease. For now, it is good to try to live out our lives with eyes open to the multiplicity of miracles and grace that are already being poured out on us day by day.
Your miracle answer to prayer may look very different than you envisaged; I know that mine is. My circumstances haven't changed, physical healing hasn't come yet, but I am being given grace to live with and to rise above my circumstances - and that's no less a miracle in my eyes.
Kutless have a wonderful song called 'Even If' that speaks about trusting in God's goodness despite what we are going through. You can click here to hear the song.