I am writing you now ahead of our meeting because I doubt I will get a chance to say much to you privately, and much of what I want to say will not fit the sort of things I expect will be said at that time. You will hear much about faith, and God’s promises, and God’s power, and God’s love, but very little of His mystery.
I have no idea what it’s like to have your disease, nor do I know you well enough to guess what you might be thinking. I do know suffering, however. I have battled what I now know to be Depression for much of my life. It can manifest itself as bouts of fear and anxiety, but mostly it is just a slow dripping faucet of inner gloom. There have been times when the sense of pain has been overwhelming. I would like to say that I prayed and it ended, but it didn’t. This appears to be something I am going to have to live with, and some days I do better with it than others.
I believe God can and does heal, but not always. Too many people I’ve prayed for have not gotten well for me to say otherwise.
When I was a teenager, a girl in your youth group was diagnosed with cancer. We prayed, hard. We prayed in tongues as well as in English. Within the fashions of the time, we did everything we were supposed to do, and yet she died. That has stayed with me all these years. Nothing was said about it afterwards. The church had put in all this effort and energy, and when it did not yield the desired results, we dropped it and walked away as if nothing had happened.
It doesn’t fit with our message. We want success, and success is healing. We are told to pray in faith, to pray in tongues, to pray out loud– as an aside, have you ever noticed that most guides to prayer get down to “How to Get What You Want From God”? Jesus Himself tells us to pray constantly, to batter Heaven with our request. Yet He also tells us there is no need for endless repetition, and that faith the size of a mustard seed will prevail. I’m not sure which one applies.
This is not a new problem, of course. When you get to your required philosophy course in college, and I hope you take one, you will learn that it goes by the name, “The Problem of Evil.” “If God is all-powerful and all-good, why does evil occur?” This is one of the central questions of the Job. If you re-read it, you’ll notice God never answers Job’s question about why all of this happened to him. Yet Job ends the book satisfied. He has seen God, and that was enough.
We’re supposed to be cheerful and confident under such trying circumstances, but I want to assure you that it’s okay if you’re not. I can even understand if you want to tell off God. I have, on occasion. He’s big enough to handle it. It’s interesting that for all his complaints to God, God does not rebuke Job. God does, however, rebuke Job’s friends for their efforts to defend God. Take comfort from this in the trying times.
All of this is a very long way of saying that I will be praying for your healing Sunday, as I have been for some time, but I will also be praying that He will strengthen you, and open you up to His mystery.
From your work in television, you know that the characters on screen are to carry on unaware that there is a soundstage enveloping them. They are in the moment of their story, and the goings on outside of that are hidden from them. So it is with us.
God means to build saints, and there is a whole story going on to achieve this that lies just outside our vision. Much of it will make little sense until we reach our journey’s end. We have Christ as our Guide and token, He who died to rise again and prepare a place for us where there shall be no more tears and no more night.