05 October, 2009

The Flaming Sword

The age old question of whether we should pray for healing, or pray for healing if it's God's will, came up in Sunday School. The specific question was why God could will not to heal us.

It's always a tough question.

There are too many wounded people whom I love too much to answer that question lightly. The teacher was gracious enough to actually allow some silence after asking the question. I am often impressed by her, and this was one of those times. Anyway, in the silence I ran around the mulberry bush a few more times, but the way the question was asked brought me to a new place.

Could God will that we not be healed? It is actually His will that we die. There's a tree somewhere on this planet named the Tree of Life, and that tree has an angel standing in front of it with a flaming sword. That sword is there by the will of God, and it's there to make sure we die.

Genesis 3 is not really explicit about why we should not live forever, but it is explicit God will not allow it. It might be because He's too merciful to allow us to debauch ourselves and destroy ourselves for any longer than 70 years. It could be to preserve us from His wrath. It could be to preserve His glory. The one thing of which we're certain is our pain comes as an outflow from Adam's sin. God is handling the introduction of evil into our world in the most merciful and loving way possible. Maybe sometimes we underestimate the terrible power of the unholy, but Jesus paid a terrible price to cleanse us.

Yes, God might will us to remain wounded. If He does, He does so tenderly and with love, like a good mother helping a child to throw up so it can all be better in the morning.

Whatever might happen, our Heavenly Comforter stays with us all through the night.


Anonymous said...

Whatever might happen, our Heavenly Comforter stays with us all through the night.

That's the answer. No matter the outcome, that's the answer.

He will always stay with us.


Kansas Bob said...

The real question is why would we need to add "if it's God's will" to any prayer? He only answers prayers according to His will. Better to simply express our needs to him in a real way and let Him work out the "will" stuff.. and find a way to be content with His will in the meantime :)

Kevin Knox said...

Thank you, Milly and amen, Bob.

I've always tried to pray openly and honestly for the thing I desire, and also to be open and honest about the shortsightedness of my desires. His will is to bless me, along with His church and His Name. And He will accomplish those blessings, though usually in ways I can't pretend to understand. So when I pray, I try to remind myself how His goodness extends beyond my understanding, and to declare my trust in Him extends beyond my vision - or should.

But to pray for His will? His will for me is always good. I trust in His will, not pray for it.

Kansas Bob said...

Of course Jesus did teach us to pray for the Father's kingdom to come and will be done.. not that I always know it when I see it :)

Missy said...

Kevin, this is something I've thought a lot about lately. In the past, I have gotten really angry when I've been in a group praying for someone who is present, and someone prays for healing "if it is Your will." I then would silently follow up with "I pray it IS Your will to heal so-and-so, and if it isn't your will, can You please make it so? 'Cause I love her and I don't want her to be in pain anymore or die." I know it might be wrong, but it's honest?

Anonymous said...

You're so right it's honest. I really dislike hearing "If it's God's will"

Because when someone that you love suffers and dies you feel rahter set up to not like God very much.

My sister is in His hands if He sets her free of cancer then I will rejoice. If He takes her to be with my mom then I will morn and rejoice. Sure it’s in his hands but I don’t want to hear that phrase

Kevin Knox said...

The old Djini story rises again. (These days I guess I'm supposed to spell it "genie" but I've never quite gotten around to the 21st century.)

The djini story was always a story of cleverness. The djini was all powerful, but bound against his will do grant three wishes. Therefore, the djini hated the one who'd won the wishes. And therefore, the poor sap who requests anything of the djini was up a really smelly creek and didn't even know it yet.

When the sap asked the djini never to see something awful again, the djini blinded him. When he asked to be freed from some place, he was sent to a worse one. But the sap was not really so stupid after all. Twice burnt, third time careful, and the third wish always defeated the djini.

And we pray to God this way. We have every reason to fear Him. As Karen pointed out, we've never seen Him. He's also all-powerful, at the very best unpredictable, and has every reason to look down on us. We try to reduce our vulnerability to God in every way we can through tricks of obedience, humility, and altruism. We want to con Him into giving us treats instead of tricks.

Hence, we only pray within His will.

I recommend trusting deeper, wider, and longer. The more we trust, the fewer games we play.

The problem is that trust only comes after we take risks and are not hurt. And sometimes it feels very much like we're hurt. Our sister grows ill or a friend betrays us for whom we've prayed. When that happens, be honest about the way you feel betrayed, but also be honest about the things the Lord (Who seems to have betrayed you) suffered for you and your friend. In time the Spirit will reveal His faithfulness to you in that very thing.

It's almost as if it takes time and experience to learn to trust an invisible Lord. ;-)

I'm sorry for the way some prayers hurt, but remind yourself that we're all just children trying to figure out how to live together with an invisible Father. We all find little superstitions that comfort us. As long as everyone makes room for each others' blankies, I think we'll all make it. My brother who prays for God's will and my sister who demands of the All-Wise One that He do exactly what we bind on Earth are both doing splendidly.

Thanks for all you guys have added to this little post.

Missy said...

Very good points. I'm working on it, Kevin.

In prayer group, someone will pray - I'll imagine them snuggling a blankie and start giggling - then say, "Sorry, Kevin just made me laugh." They'll say, "Of course, Missy." 'Cause that's what they say to me. :)