When we are desperately praying for healing, it can be hard to feel that God isn't answering our prayers. Here a Woman Alive contributor explains how she almost gave up on God in the midst of her disappointment.
My husband Simon, was born with spina bifida, then at four years old he developed hydrocephalus, which damaged his eye nerves leaving him blind. He went on to have four guide dogs and a career as a social worker but now has huge mobility problems meaning he cannot walk unaided, is constantly extremely tired and has almost no social life.
Our adult son Jake, is on the autistic spectrum with acute paranoia, severe depression and unresolved anger issues (meaning challenging behaviour and a police record) and is fast becoming an alcoholic.
As long-term committed Christians, a lot of prayer, both our own and others, has underpinned our lives and we’ve certainly been carried through some tough times – recovery from two near fatal accidents, infertility, adopting Jake from Romania, teenage fatherhood, drug abuse and more, but it sometimes feels that there is a lot of unanswered prayer too. Family and friends who don’t share our faith cannot understand why we’re still hanging on to God.
We attended a large healing meeting where several people descended upon Simon, eager to heal him of his blindness.
Years ago, when Simon was mobile and using his guide dog, we attended a large healing meeting and were immediately ushered to the front. Later, several people descended upon Simon, eager to heal him of his blindness. He was urged to confess his sins, pray harder and told that he owed it to me to regain his sight. They continued to pray earnestly, despite Simon saying that he would much rather they prayed for his rhinitis. He knew that God could heal his sight but also believed that he was being used as a powerful witness through his blindness. We left that meeting feeling discouraged and troubled. Certainly, no healing was experienced by us that night. It’s important to find out what people want prayer for – it isn’t always the most obvious thing.
We’ve been praying for Jake for many years, and, in fact, a new group was set up just this week to pray and practically support him, but it’s so hard not to think: “We’ve been here before.” There are times when he does acknowledge God’s presence in his life, but as soon as he hits a stumbling block he goes back to denouncing God or blaming the devil for his behaviour.
As it says in Jeremiah 29:11-13: “'Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ declares the Lord ‘and I will bring you back from captivity.’” (NIV UK) We’re hanging on to that for Jake.
I once came so close to losing my faith, but it felt like another bereavement, and I had to actively decide to claw back my relationship with God.
Psalm 88 was written in desperation, and I can sometimes identify with Heman when he says: “But I cry to you for help, LORD; IN the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” Psalm 88:13-14.
It’s easy to feel that God has given up on us, feeling unable to cope with any more disappointment and despair, but the real turning-point comes when you can look forward to the plans he has for your future, knowing that you have absolutely no guarantee that any situation will improve.
We sometimes sing about continuing to worship in the middle of the storm and we say that we'll continue to get louder until we are roaring and I sing fervently, determined to praise in the midst of the misery. I once came so close to losing my faith, but it felt like another bereavement, and I had to actively decide to claw back my relationship with God. I rejoice that he did not let me go, but instead continues to walk with me day by day.