Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

When God's No Reveals Something Greater Than Healing

If you have the faith to move mountains, He said. Ask and it will be given, He said.

If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard these verses enough times to recite them in your sleep.

But what happens when God appears to turn a deaf ear to our heart’s greatest cry?

I received my first diagnosis in the fall of 2012, and for years, it felt as if was in a frequent state of revolt. There were  times I chose to revolt right along with it! I’ll stamp my foot, frown toward heaven, have long arguments with my Savior: If You’d only…

Followed by long periods of quiet, peace-filled surrender.

This particular Sunday, that's where I was. Two and a half years into this journey called Chronic illness, I’d finally come to terms with my condition. Had finally come to accept it I was learning to adapt. To find joy in the new. To celebrate the good times and drawn ever-closer to Christ in the rough.

Until one day, a thought niggled: I should ask my Bible study group lay hands on me and pray for healing.

I quickly pushed the thought aside. Asking for prayer would mean being honest with the depth of my struggles. Besides, they’d prayed for me many times, many still were. And everyone had their own concerns and problems. Why make mine the focus?

So I went on about my day, and the next, and the next. Until, about a week later, the thought returned. This time I mentioned it to my sweet husband, who responded, “I pray for you every day.”

So again I let it go.

Until the following Sunday when, just settling back into surrender, our pastor delivered a sermon on the James 5:13-17:

“Are any of you sick? You should call on the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well” (verses 5:14-15a NLT).

My pulse quickened as hope blossomed. This had to be from God, which meant, He planned to heal me!

Again, I told my husband, this time explaining all the events leading up to my conclusion.

He agreed. “I’ll send out an email to let everyone know.”

Smiling, I settled back in my seat and allowed myself to think of all the things I might do, once God made me 100% well. In short, my life would instantly return to the way it had been before.

Due to a ministry meeting, I arrived late to our next Bible study. And nervous, not to mention extremely embarrassed. The moment I walked in, everyone grew quiet as all heads turned my way. My husband sprang to his feet, grabbed a chair, and placed it in the center of the room. A sweet friend dashed into her kitchen to get a dish of oil. And as my husband gently guided me to my chair, placing his strong, protective hands on my shoulders, everyone else gathered around me.

They prayed over me,  and my sweet friend anointed first my forehead then the backs of my hands with oil. Her eyes filled with compassion while I sat, surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ. Tears poured down my cheeks as I heard them speak words of admiration and deep love. Some of them cried, too, as they beseeched our Heavenly Father on my behalf.

It was one of the most beautiful outpourings of Christian love I’ve experienced. I left that night completely humbled.

And more convinced than ever that my days of chronic illness were passed.

The following day, however, I was struck by a pain more intense than usual and unrelenting fatigue. A deep discouragement followed, the kind that comes from allowing your hopes to rise only to find them shattered once again.

Why, Lord? I cried. Why did You bring me on this journey? Why did You allow hope to blossom only to snatch it from me once again?

The answer came as quick, as clear, and as softly as that first thought, three weeks prior: I wanted you to experience their love for you.

I realized in that moment that was more beautiful than any healing I might have received.

Let's talk about this! When has God told you no regarding something you desperately wanted? How did you respond? Did that no show you anything about Him, others, or perhaps yourself? What are some reasons God sometimes answers our prayers with no, and how might remembering His unchanging nature in the middle of our disappointment comfort us?


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