Light and Momentary

On Sunday, the pastor and several believers in our church community surrounded Joel, anointed him with oil and prayed over him for healing of his neck.

On Monday Joel got up in even worse pain than normal.  Joel said to me with tears in his voice, “I know God can; it’s just a matter of His timing and his will. I trusted fully in his healing power as they prayed over me. I know he is working good.”

The natural reaction is to think something didn’t work. But I know that God’s work isn’t actually depending upon my pushing all the right buttons, posturing myself in just the right way, or completing a ritual in perfect order. I know that Scripture tells us to call the elders for prayer and the anointing with oil, and in faith we obeyed that Scripture. (See James 5:13-16.) It also says God will raise up; God will heal, God will restore. I know that, and I believe that, even if it isn’t in the same order and succession as I expected. Our obedience to God is pleasing to Him. Our trust in Him, evidenced by our actions gives Him glory. That we get to engage in honoring God in our frailty still baffles me.

As I have spent much personal time in prayer over Joel’s painful situation, I have felt the Holy Spirit reminding me again that He holds the future. He numbers our days. He orders our paths. And it is a gift from him to rest in the confidence that he holds what for now, we cannot receive.

I don’t know when God is going to heal Joel. And I can’t see what possible good Joel’s pain is doing right now. I see Joel’s desire to be more active to do more. And it’s a good desire, toward good things. So I wonder why God doesn’t make it possible for him to enter into that.

But all this wondering drives me to a place of deeper trust, a place where I can ask God to show me the good in a painful place, to show me His presence and power in our weakness, to give me a hope and a confidence that shines as a beacon of Him to those around us.

I’m not trying to solve the theology of suffering—the trilemma of the ages. I don’ have the capacity or tenacity for that.  What I can do, what I seek for, is to live what I believe in the middle of things that don’t make sense, so that what I can offer to others who suffer is the comfort I’ve received in suffering.  Because God is faithful to remind me that this suffering no matter how heavy and intense it feels is really “light and momentary” in comparison to the eternal glory we await.

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