He’s on both sides of the coin

Today's guest blogger is Stephanie Van Gorden. Stephanie and her  family serve with Village Missions, a missions organization whose purpose is to strengthen and establish healthy Biblical churches in North America, primarily in rural areas. 

During the most difficult period of our dealings with infertility and treatment, I frequented a Christian message board for women struggling with the same thing. One discussion centered around one woman’s indecision about whether to continue praying for healing or to just finally move on. It’s a valid question, and one that has ramifications for all kinds of waiting situations. The same principle applied when our family was waiting on news on a job change. It applies to other kinds of medical treatment. It applies to university decisions. It applies to relational difficulties. If infertility isn’t your “thing” today, fill in the blank with circumstances you’re experiencing or know of where God has asked you to wait.

I don't think that praying with faith and accepting the current situation are mutually exclusive. In other words, it's not like in God's economy it's an either/or. Trusting the Lord can be more AND than OR. My husband defines prayer as humbly expressing our dependence on God, responding to what and whom He has revealed Himself to be.

SO...we can pray with faith, recognizing our dependence on Him both to walk with us through the current circumstances (Isaiah 43:1-3a), and to change them according to His will. God's sovereignty covers both sides of the coin. We can humbly and joyfully (though not necessarily happily) accept God’s ‘no’ answer, resting in the sovereignty of an all-powerful, perfectly wise and loving heavenly Father, who knows what He is about. At the same time that we say, "Thy will be done," we can ask Him if His will can include this thing we’re asking for. Consider it, if you will, the same coin as Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane: "Take this cup from Me; nevertheless, Your will be done." He was willing and joyful (even though not happy) to obey the Father even to the ultimate cost of His life, but He still asked His Father (our Father!) to change the circumstances if He would.

So whether or not to continue asking for a change, for a ‘yes’? I think God is pleased when we do, because we're glorifying Him by expressing our belief that only He in the universe is capable of bringing that about. But we must be sure we're (a) asking with the right motives (James 4:2-3), and (b) asking in humility, content to rest in the palm of His hand, knowing that His will cannot be thwarted .

Something that has helped me is Psalm 84:11-12:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory.
No good thing does He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!

If something good is being withheld, it's because in God's will, there is something better for me and beyond me in the long run. Someone once said that God's will is exactly what we would choose if we knew what He knows. Understanding that truth does not preclude us from asking for something, merely from grasping at a perceived right to it, or holding so tightly to it that we respond sinfully if He does not give it.

Several years ago, a man in our congregation contracted cancer for the 5th time. When he told us the news, he said, "I've been healed four times, and I know God can heal me again if He chooses to, so that's what I'm praying for. But I know that if He doesn't heal me here, I'll be healed in heaven, so it's a win-win situation."

We can turn our situations into win-win situations like Del's if we're willing to say, with Christ, “Let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, Your will be done.” Or, in my case, as I posted a reply on that message board thread, “God, I desperately want children, but I don't want to 'need' them more than I need You. Help me to obey You with joy; help me to be content with You as my portion (because how can children add to Your perfect perfections?!). You have made this day for me, and as Your Word says, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I also ask You to bring about healing in my body so that it might bear children for Your glory, if You are pleased to do so. Nevertheless, I know that You are in Your heaven, and You do what You please. May it please You to bring children to our home. But if it doesn't, may it please me to honor You with all that I am and have, so that whether by my infertility or by having children, Your name will be glorified.”