I don’t think I will ever figure out the relationship between prayer and faith and how God answers some prayers and others go seemingly unanswered. I don’t think we’re meant to figure it out until Heaven.
The whole time I was pregnant with Maizie, I prayed for a healthy baby. I prayed in the exact same way I prayed for a healthy baby during my pregnancy with Emerson. When we found out Maizie had died, it was the first time we had learned that anything with our baby was not healthy. God doesn’t answer prayers differently than we hoped because we didn’t have enough faith when we prayed.
In prayer we lay the desires of our hearts before the Lord. We ask for Him to move. We plead for Him to have mercy. We ask in faith, believing that He has the power to do whatever we are asking. It takes faith to ask for God to do something that seems impossible.
“It takes great faith to say to God, ‘Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore this relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.” – Nancy Guthrie in Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow
But it may take greater faith to say to God, “Even if you don’t do what I desire, I will still love you, follow you, and trust your goodness.”
This is where I currently live and wrestle. Even though. Even if.
Even though you didn’t give me the healthy baby I prayed for, I still love you.
Even though you didn’t give me the healthy baby I prayed for, I will still follow you.
Even though you didn’t give me the healthy baby I prayed for, I will trust your goodness.
These truths. On repeat.
Today I made a list of all my even though’s and even if’s:
Even though you took my daughter from me.
Even if it happens again.
Even if we never get another little girl.
Even if a third sonogram picture never makes it onto the fridge because we never get pregnant again.
Even if my next pregnancy is really hard.
Even if JR and I struggle in our marriage through this loss.
Even if I feel unheard and unloved in my loss.
Even if some of our strained relationships never heal.
Even if Emerson is the only child I raise.
Even if I’m stuck in a battle with fear and anxiety when it comes to pregnancy for the rest of my childbearing years.
Even if people hurt my feelings with their insensitivity.
Even if everyone else I know seems to have easy pregnancies that work.
Even if all these things happen, I will still love you, follow you and trust your goodness.
God doesn’t owe me anything. I haven’t earned extra blessings by years of vocational ministry. I trust and submit to Him, even when it leads to my pain and my worst fears.
Isn’t this the example that Jesus gave us in the garden and then at the cross?
In Matthew 26 he prays these prayers in the garden:
“My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).
“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
Jesus made his even if list. Even if I have to go to the cross. Even if I have to be separated from you. Even if I have to endure torture and ridicule. Even if I have to take the blame for sins I didn’t commit. Even if you can’t take this cup from me. I will still love you, follow you and trust your goodness.
He went to the cross with great faith that God would do what only He can do. It lead to suffering, but it was out of God’s love and goodness.
I don’t know what fears, heartaches and trials are on your even though or even if list. But they are probably the very things that could cause you to doubt God or give up on Him. They are probably the things for which you pray most passionately. These are the areas where God is asking you to have even bigger faith. Even if all of those things happen, will you still love Him, follow Him and trust His goodness?
Even if I never marry.
Even if I never have kids.
Even if I never get the promotion.
Even if my brother never conquers his addiction.
Even if my marriage falls apart.
Even if my parents die.
Even if I fight cancer.
Even if my child dies.
Even if my child is disabled.
Even if my strength or speech never returns.
Even if my kids are taken away from me.
Our situations do not determine the goodness or trustworthiness of God.
Even if all of your worst nightmares happen, God still loves you. God still leads you. God is still good. He sees with an eternal perspective that is difficult for us to understand. He let everything happen on Jesus’ even if list so that you and me could spend eternity with Him. That is the greatest gift.
I know that God is good. I believe that. But honestly, He doesn’t feel good right now. So I’m telling myself these truths on repeat. He will work all things out for good for those who love Him. Eternal good, not necessarily present-tense good.