“Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate.” – C.S. Lewis
It has almost been 2 years since my Mother lost her battle with cancer, and I still remember those last few days with such great detail. The way the month of March feels brings many memories. I remember the medicine charts, the doctor visits, the phone calls, the ache in my heart, and I remember her sweet, sweet voice. When I look back on those days, I am certain we are all stronger in some ways. However, it has definitely not been a walk in the park going through life without her and still wondering why my prayers for healing were not answered.
The week after Mother died, our church choir sang “Healing is in Your Hands”. It was a tough realization for me. Like some sort of robot, I played the piano while hearing words about healing knowing I did not get the kind of healing that I had so earnestly prayed for. It is still very hard to hear that song and not be taken back to that Sunday when my heart was in a million pieces.
We sang that same song again in church last week, and it was as if God spoke directly to my cold heart and gave me a very different perspective of the song. The healing the song speaks of does not have to be about physical healing. Maybe the healing that I need to be concerned about at this point is healing in my heart.
Growing up in church my entire life, I have learned how much we love to celebrate the healing of others. People tell their stories with happy endings, and we love to hear about the healing and miracles in their lives. We hear about spared lives in car crashes, cancer spots that disappeared, stories of miraculous healings and how God healed because people believed and prayed.
But what about a lesser story? What about the story where there is no physical healing even when you’ve prayed so earnestly for it? What about the story that does not end with a miracle? Maybe I grew up (ignorantly) thinking I would always get whatever I prayed for if I prayed hard enough. Not only did I not get what I prayed for, but I am extremely weary from the journey of asking why for the past 2 years as well.
So here’s my story. My Mother was diagnosed with cancer. I prayed for her healing. Others prayed for her healing. I begged God. I pleaded with God, and yet I lost my Mother to cancer. I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve thrown God size hissy fits. I’ve questioned over and over, and I still don’t have the answers even 2 years later.
But here is what I do know…..
There has to be a bigger picture I just can’t see. Maybe there is no happy ending yet because we are not yet at the end. Maybe I am just sitting in the middle of my story, and God is teaching me through all of it. The lack of resolution is so painful some days, but it has taught me to sit in the messy middle of my story and know God is not finished with me yet. Sitting in the messy middle of my story has taught me that I am NO WHERE NEAR who I need to be as a child of God, and yet, here is the best part. . . .
God still loves me.
I don’t have it all together. I still question. I still wonder why. I have made some pretty ridiculous choices. I try to live this crazy life without any help from God, and every time I try it alone, it always becomes messier. The best part of the song, the part that really hit me hard says:
No mountain, no valley, no gain or loss we know, can keep us from your love.
No sickness, no secret, no chain is strong enough to keep us from your love.
No cancer, no question, no crazy choice, no loss of a Mother, no anger, no chain, NOTHING can keep us from God’s love. Do you know how thankful I am for that today?
So today I am celebrating in the messy middle of my story. I am celebrating the fact that God will never stop loving me, even when I don’t have it all together. Have I always known this in my head? Absolutely. Today, I know it in my heart, my heart that has been healed in many new ways.