I stood in her living room at 9 years old, and I remember feeling God’s inspiration. It was working in my gut and it prompted me to pray for her healing. I was trepidatious and ecstatic simultaneously. Her healing was one prayer of faith away! I could not fully contain my excitement that God was about to heal my grandmother. I walked to her chair where she sat hunkered down and wincing in pain. We were playing Phase 10 and she was cheating. As I walked over, I caught her stuffing her moomoo with extra cards. We shared a laugh and then the atmosphere changed.
“Mammie,” I said the pet name my sister coined in her toddling years, “I feel like God just spoke to me. I feel like He said that if I lay hands on you and pray for your healing that you’d be completely healed.”
“Well honey let’s do this! Don’t wait a second longer!” She threw her head back and raised her hands in the air and lit off in a fit on tongues, her faith skyrocketing. I could feel it coming off of her like heat. The raw power God allowed her to access in prayer was staggering. I stood there intimidated but certain of what I had heard. I stretched out my hand and placed it on her forehead, and I could feel the energy of the Spirit of God literally flowing. My faith was being bolstered and my mouth opened with more vigor than I anticipated. I called down her healing. I claimed promises. I quoted scripture. I spoke with authority. I rebuked sickness and infirmity.
We calmed down after a while and I stepped back to see Mammie’s healing but...nothing had changed. “Mammie, you’re not healed?”
“Well there are miracles and healings. The former happens instantaneously and the latter happens over time. But rest assured, we have Scripture that tells us that He who has begun a good work will complete it.”
I remember those words. I remember her confidence. And I remember her dying. I remember standing over the casket, never allowing myself to grieve, and thinking about her healing...a healing that never came.
God taught me something that day. I stood there at her casket, feeling so alone. There were people there, but God seemed away somehow. All the times I’d heard about faith and healing and hope and the power of prayer, it all seemed so distant. I could see it all, but through a thick pane of glass that muted my pounding fists and red-faced shouts of anger. Why God? Why did you prompt me to pray and then not heal her?
He never answered me. He didn’t have to. He didn’t need to.
Slowly, as the years went on, I decided to actually foster a relationship with God, and I can say with all confidence that Carolyn’s pain was pivotal in my growing in Him. Her suffering taught me things. Her smiles taught me things. Her faith taught me things. While I believe in God’s ultimate power over death, Hell, and the grave and believe that when I pray for the sick and the lost that God will immediately intervene, if Carolyn had not suffered and died like she did, I perhaps would not have the faith that I do now. I learned that my relationship with God was one that could not be built on a sense of business. I could not move forward thinking, “If I do this then God will do this.” I couldn’t continue through life in the driver’s seat. This lesson in faith taught me to avoid the deception of thinking I could twist God’s arm, as if He should bend to my will. I would have to live a life where the only thing that I could do was trust God.
Carolyn showed me that a relationship with God is more important than a healing from Him. It’s more important than comfort or peace. A relationship with God is such a precious thing that no amount of strife or difficulty should be able to snatch it away from you.
I hope that there are some prayers God has chosen not to answer in your life so that you can better evaluate your own relationship with Him. Do you serve God on the basis of Quid Pro Quo? Or is God your one true love? Is God the one that, if He never answered another prayer, if He never did another thing for you, you would still continue to love, with all of your heart?