When I was a little girl, I remember hearing a true story from my grandmother that still breaks my heart many years later. Her son, my father's only brother, was hospitalized with appendicitis as a child. Back then, an ailment like this was often incurable, and my grandmother, being a woman of great faith, prayed day and night for her son's healing. While this child was recovering from surgery, he overheard some nurses talking about him. One said to the other, "Don't bother with this one. He's a goner." The next time my grandmother came into her son's room, he told her what he had overheard, and he asked her, "Is it true that I'm a goner, Mama?" Even though she tried desperately to reassure her son that he had every chance of recovering, he had already given up all hope, and he died a short time later.
I hear from people on a regular basis who know someone - sometimes a close loved one - whose condition is "incurable" or "hopeless," as the Scripture above says. Sometimes, they ask me to stand in faith with them for a miracle. Other times, they have already given up all hope of recovery, and they just want me to pray that their loved one will go quickly, and will not have to suffer. And then there are those who write and ask me to pray that God's will may be done, whatever that might be. In every case, my heart goes out to these folks. Even those of us who are in the habit of praying for miracles on a regular basis can often falter and become discouraged in situations like these. When that happens, we are in danger of causing those around us, including those in trouble, to lose hope, too.
I believe that in cases like these, we need to pray for God's wisdom, and to depend on the Holy Spirit to show us what to pray. Scripture says that when we don't know how to pray, the Spirit of God will instruct us and help us. (Romans 8:26-27) That being said, it amazes me how many Christians are afraid to call on God's supernatural power in situations like these, because they automatically consider someone's condition "hopeless". In fact, I've seen cases where non-Christians have demonstrated more faith in God's ability and willingness to heal, than Christians have. Perhaps in some instances, believers feel the need to humble themselves before God, to submit to His will, and to sum everything up by saying, "Thy will be done". And that may certainly be the case in certain circumstances, but certainly not in ALL of them.
It's true that God is sovereign, but it is also true that He hears and answers the prayers of His people, and He has been known to do some amazing things when believers have asked Him to. Unfortunately, too many Christians are afraid to "get their hopes up," because they don't want to face the disappointment of unanswered prayer. But since that's the mindset that worldly people often have, should we, as Christians, have it, too? I like what I once heard someone say years ago - "I would rather ask God for a lot and get some of it, than to ask for nothing and get all of it." If we, as believers, are only willing to pray for positive outcomes in situations that are more hopeful than hopeless, then we're in big trouble. And so is the unbelieving world, because we won't have much to show them that will convince them that we serve the God of the impossible.
The next time you or a loved one face "hopeless" circumstances, I encourage you not to falter or become disheartened, but to pray for God's wisdom and guidance. Ask yourself, "How will my faith, or lack of it, affect others?" And unless you get clear guidance from the Lord to "throw in the towel" - trust Him to work miracles, as you reach out for Him in hope!
Prayer: Lord, please show me how to respond to every seemingly hopeless situation. Remind me that even though You are sovereign, You have encouraged us to pray for miracles when they will please and glorify You. Don't let my faith be so fragile that I'm afraid to "get my hopes up". Thank You, Lord, that as I pray in faith, Your highest purposes will prevail!
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