How to Pray for Us
Alan Richardson, in his brilliant book The Miracle Stories of the Gospels (p. 9), writes that "the Kingdom of God is an irresistible dunamis silently at work in the world." This is precisely the point I make in Paul, Apostle of Weakness. In the present age, Jesus' power is displayed primarily in and through our weaknesses. He works "silently," as Richardson says. But we need to remember that He does not always work that way. Sometimes the work of God is a noisy affair. "Lazarus, come forth" was shouted, not whispered.
This may seem like a trite point, but when you are facing a terminal illness you are eager to be reminded that "power came forth from Him and healed them all" (Luke 6:19). It is entirely false to the theology of the New Testament to reject the possibility of miracles today. The Disciples' Prayer ends with the words, "For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory." It is a mistake to put God in a box.
Of course, the Bible also knows the power of weakness. Just ask Joni Eareckson Tada. Which would be the greater miracle -- to see her walk again or to see Christ's peace and joy manifested in the midst of her "handicap"? Paul would answer, "The latter." In the Pauline sense, human weakness can become the showplace of God's exceptional power. Thus Paul's own 3-fold request to be relieved of his "stake in the flesh" led to the realization of God's sufficiency in the midst of the pain.
However puzzling Becky's illness may seem to me (she had none of the predisposing factors so common with uterine cancer), I have to realize that there is a world of difference between humbly asking God for a miracle and being guilty of presumption. Jesus is not ignorant of Becky's condition. When He saw the man at the pool of Bethesda He knew immediately that he was a chronic sufferer. Nothing had happened to him for 38 years. Then Jesus intervened for the man -- but apparently not for all the other sufferers at the pool. King Jesus is sovereign, and He sovereignly disposes.
So Jesus can be trusted. We can rely on His good judgment when it comes to our health. The only thing we can never justify is disobedience to His commands.
So as you pray for Becky do not pray primarily or even exclusively for her cancer to be healed. Pray that we will remain obedient, trusting, and joyful in the valley. Ask God to help us to follow our upside-down Messiah who upset the political status quo so much so that he got the Roman electric chair. Pray that Becky and I would never forget that, in the kingdom of God, down is up and that it is indeed God's kingdom we are serving, and not our own, until that day when we will stand, side by side, brother and sister, in His presence.
September 2, 2010
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.