A woman shared with me once, in tears, that a baby would have lived if she had fasted more. It was a painful and challenging conversation. There is a truth that fasting can move the heart of God, and there are times when we are called to fast for the breakthrough. However, as we talked, it became apparent that she was taking full responsibility for the death of that precious child. There was no space for the sovereignty of God. Granted, there was no way to understand why God allowed that baby to die, but my dear friend had unintentionally slid into a works mentality. She firmly believed that her "work" of fasting would have saved the baby.
I do not doubt that many of us can relate. We have prayed, fasted, and prayed some more. Some of us have bargained with God committing our lives and futures to Him IF He will just… Others have firmly believed that they had a word from God, and their world has come crashing down around them as that word didn't come to pass.
Too often, the Body of Christ has attempted to give theological answers when there are no answers on this side of Heaven. Sometimes the best solution is that we don't know. We never want to tell people that they didn't fast enough, pray enough, or (you fill in the blank).
Another friend of mine walked several people to the gates of Heaven. She loves the Lord and was wrestling through why God did not heal them. A pastor told her that God did not heal them because she didn't have enough faith. This belief threw her into a tailspin and questioning her love for the Lord and maybe even her salvation.
It is tough to reconcile what God's Word says and what we experience here on earth. Yes, everyone that Jesus touched was healed. And, Scripture is clear that we are to heal the sick and even raise the dead (see Matthew 10:8). Scripture also tells us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains (See Luke 17:6, Matthew 17:20). I don't know about you, but I think sickness is a mountain that needs to be moved!
A dangling question becomes what happens when the baby dies or when we walk yet another person to the gates of Heaven. How do we respond to ourselves and the questions we are asking? How do we respond to others who may say that we don't have enough faith? How do we react to those hurting around us?
The answer I often find myself giving is "I don't know," and the theological answer that I can couple that with is that "I do know that God is faithful". God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He is our help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He is our comforter and our strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). Even amid pain, disappointment, and heartache, He is present.
The other thing I know is that He is God, and I am not. I may not always hear correctly. Someone had shared with me that they had a prophetic word that someone was going to live. They camped on that word and refused to lean in any other direction. I was new to ministry and asked my Senior Pastor how we (and ultimately the individual) would know if they genuinely heard the Lord or not. With the great insight that came from years of pastoring, he responded, "we will know by if the individual lives or dies from the disease". As the individual died, I realized that we have to leave enough room to understand that sometimes the outcome we want is what we hear, not necessarily the Lord's voice. So, we need to grieve the result that may not match what we desired or maybe even the outcome we thought we heard from the Lord.
With all that said, how do we navigate? We move forward with a radical belief in God's power and with the courage to do what He has told us to do. Since God has sent us out to raise the dead and heal the sick, then that is what we keep praying for. And, if we are going to pray for it, that means we must also grab hold of God's hand and try to do it. After all, the next one we pray for may be healed, delivered, or raised from the dead.
It also means that we don't allow ourselves to fall into the deep dark hole believing that we didn't fast or pray enough. Instead, we lean into the sovereignty of God and trust Him even when we don't understand. We don't tell someone that they didn't have enough faith or their sin was too great. We trust in the powerful love of our God.
God sees a bigger picture than I do. I will trust Him even when I don't understand. I will pour out God's love in each and every situation. I will keep praying for that next person to be healed. I firmly believe that I will see the dead raised. I don't stop. I continue to reach out fully, expecting that my experience will align with what sovereign God said – and in doing this, I will see the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth.