A friend gave me a beautifully wrapped present, about 4″x4″ square but quite heavy – for no reason! Excitedly, I opened it and then knew she could see the disappointment on my face, but I couldn’t help it; I almost was crying. Inside the gorgeous box was a dirty, ugly rock. I wished she had not given me anything than something like that. What must she think of our friendship?
She quickly tells me that she has verified that a diamond in the rough is inside and will train me and give me the tools to dig it out for myself. Really, if she wanted to give me a diamond, I’d rather not have to get it from that batch of coal! Of course, I couldn’t tell her that.
I think this is the way it is with God sometimes when we are sick and ask for healing or for other types of prayer. We have no doubt that He can heal us: He is still the same as He was when the Old Testament prophets walked the earth and did miracles, the same as when Jesus walked the earth and the same as when John, Peter, Paul and the other disciples healed people. They prayed and God answered. HE HAS NOT CHANGED. So why doesn’t our Father who loves us so much heal us?
Perhaps at times He gives us what looks like a lump of coal and we need to do the work of discovering the diamond inside. Isaiah 45:3 states: I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
Our Lord doesn’t tell us what kinds of treasures we will gain, but He will be faithful to provide them if we are faithful to dig, scrap and clean until we find that diamond. After that, God may bring us the healing we desire and crave. However, we do know that many of His faithful people are not healed here on earth. We do not understand this, but God also tells us that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Even though we don’t understand all about healing, it is still right for us to pray for it because Psalm 103:2-5 tells us: Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (emphasis mine). In the New Testament, we read James’ admonition to all Christians, Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:14-16).
Certainly, we do not understand God’s ways of dealing with us, but when we do not get an answer to prayer, whether it’s for healing or something else, let us consider this little story of my friend who is God, the gift that looks like a lump of coal, and the diamond that’s the treasure our loving Father will give us when we continually seek Him. Whether or not our prayer is answered the way we desire, God always has our best interests in mind, so therefore, we can trust Him in all our circumstances.