Anyone who believes prosperity theology is true has never been to our little church.
Never have I seen and heard of so much suffering in such a small group, and yet never have I seen such faith.
In an assembly of less than one hundred, we have two struggling through cancer – one through treatments and the other in painful waiting for healing and answers, many with debilitating migraines, arthritis, military separations, numerous unemployed, severe morning sickness, eye and heart surgeries… and the list goes on.
And yet, each week when we gather after the morning service to pray, the prayers that are prayed never cease to amaze me. Prayers of complete hope in God. Prayers that affirm both His sovereignty and His power to heal completely. Prayers that overwhelm me with the love in the church. Prayers that prove faith unshaken even in the most difficult times. Prayers that cause tears in all of us, or silence because of pain and longing so great that we know not what to say.
All of it unrelenting even when week after week we pray and nothing changes and yet we know God hears and we will not give up.
It causes me to worship, and to wonder in amazement.
Suffering is so far away from us. We have been through so little fire and storm.
When someone asked M about her headaches and insomnia, and she brushed it off because how can she complain of that when A lives in agony day after day waiting for answers and healing while the cancer eats at her tongue and there seems to be no earthly hope left, and yet she must wait. And yet I want to complain about some small, fleeting discomfort.
And while we pray day after day for A and wait for answers and it seems long and hard to us, I cannot imagine what it is to live each day wondering every moment how long you have left, what the cancer is doing now, waiting silently, unable to speak, longing for relief.
Meanwhile my cousin struggles through years of illness and no relief with doctors trying but not knowing how to heal her.
And Mr. P labors through chemo when a few weeks ago everything seemed healthy.
Apart from some homesickness, the last four months have been so easy. Our marriage so far has been easier than our courtship and engagement. Our lives were completely untouched by the forest fires that ravaged our county last week. Even pregnancy has so far been so easy. A few more hours of sleep and a little more food and nothing else seems different. And yet, life being so easy makes growing spiritually so much more difficult, because most days you aren’t driven to the Word – instead, you feel as if you can get through just fine on your own.
It makes me wonder why we are so untouched while others suffer so much. With so much suffering around us, getting pregnant so quickly and it going so well seemed unreal it was hard to believe… and yet it is real. But the surrealness of it helps me remember that it’s a gift, that life is fragile, that every day passed in safety is something to be immensely thankful for.
At times it’s frightening to live in such safety while others endure such hardship, because it makes you wonder if something is coming right around the corner. And yet, I’ve seen the faith that suffering has forged in so many people in so many places – here, Csehy, Dubai, and all over the world. My friend was right the other night when she prayed for those suffering and compared their suffering to the ease and blessing both of our families have right now – and then what she said next made it click for me. In our times of ease, we are seeing God’s faithfulness to those that are suffering, and are learning from their faith.
Which makes the idea of trial being near less scary rather than more scary, because we have seen how God works and how God is so near to His children.
And we were reminded at the Michael Card concert that it is by wounds, by being broken, whether His or ours, that we are healed.
Without pain and suffering, we don’t see our need for Him, and without His pain and suffering, we could not have Him in ours.
Only His wounds can heal the broken
Only His wounds can save us from sin
Only His wounds give faith to the faithless
Only His wounds can restore us again.
As I watch others suffer and pray for them, and as I think of them suffering, and as Ezra and I have talked and prayed together, there is one song we have sung a number of times. It’s an old hymn, but the tune we know is new from a Ligonier CD he has. It’s a song of reality, acknowledging the pain, yet also a song of hope, as it reminds us, “earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.” Listen to it here.
Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.
Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”
Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.