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Walking the Tightrope of Prayer

pray-196195_640There’s a Scripture that has sunk deep into my heart this week, filtering through my thoughts by the minute, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”

This comes to mind naturally, because I’ve had much trouble this week. I don’t need to go into the details, but it’s been tremendously difficult. I’ve prayed for my son who is sick, and for God to take away his pain. I do believe that God can, there’s not doubt in my mind about that. Whether God wills this or not, is another matter. I don’t spend too much time agonizing over the “theodicy” concern of God’s will, power, love and the remaining presence of evil in the world . . . but I do struggle with the tension between having faith and belief when I pray for healing (which I do believe there is a biblical precedence for and a mysterious connection between the faith of the one petitioning and the will of Jesus), and having total trust and security in God’s sovereignty.

Keeping Prayer in Balance

If I place too much unbalanced emphasis on the sovereignty of God, than I simply won’t pray. What’s the point? If God’s going to do what He wants, regardless of my prayers, then why bother? On the flip side, if I focus too much on my faith, belief, and earnestness as a praying believer in healing, then the lack of healing falls on my shoulders and I suffer the “guilt” of not “believing enough.”

There’s got to be a sweet spot somewhere in the middle. I believe, I hope, I yearn, and at the same time I place my trust in God. It’s not a trust that He will do what I ask, but rather a trust that He is good. God is good, God is victorious, God is just, and yes, God is moved by my prayers in some way . . . and His presence is with me. Truly, in the past five days, I have felt a thick, sustaining, intimate anchor in Jesus. I can almost feel physically that He’s right here with me. I picture His loving hand on my child’s chest, and on my own migraine-riddled head. And He whispers to me as we walk, “Take heart, I have overcome. . .”

There are many promises in God’s Word, and this is one of them, “You will have trouble in this world.” A strange promise, Jesus promises me trouble!? But in a way, it is reassuring. Jesus knew this was coming; Jesus is not surprised by these events . . . He gives me a gentle warning, “Becca, this world will turn you upside down.” But he doesn’t finish with, “So… Good luck with that!” Rather, he offers the final word on the matter, “But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Living in the In-Between

That’s a life-changing “But.” I believe this. I trust in this, and I have seen this overcoming time after time. It’s not just a hope for heaven; it’s a real hope that breaks through—even now. He’s won the battle over this trouble, and He’s triumphed over evil. Yet, I live in the shadowlands, caught between the victory He’s already won and that final day when He’ll crush the serpent’s head beneath his feet. And here in the shadowlands, I pray.

Even in my small battle this week I see glimpses of that heel coming down on the evil that lurks around the corners. Jesus’ heel crushes hopelessness that can spring up in me, crushes selfishness, crushes despair, crushes bitterness that is quick to seep toxins into the vulnerable crevices of my soul.

I hold tightly to the hand of my sweet savior as I go through trouble in this world, and take heart because He has overcome . . . now . . . and will in totality someday soon.

Soon I hope.

Maranatha.

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