With apologies for borrowing the Galaxy Quest title, this is actually a rather serious article which appeared here a year ago under the title When Faith Meets Finality.
I have to be honest. I am the type of person who doesn’t radiate a lot optimism when it comes to my own personal prayer requests, but when it comes to your prayer concerns, I believe in the limitless power of God to do anything — absolutely anything — even when the doctors, business consultants and marriage counselors have said there is no room for hope.
I’ve also encouraged my kids to pray and to ever be trying to enlarge our prayer circle beyond our own immediate family needs, which frequently means they are praying for people they have never met, or as is the case today, a person who I had never met.
She was the wife of a sales rep of a guy who calls on our store representing a large Christian publishing company. When we first met seven years ago, she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. So we prayed in a parking lot that day, and have been praying for her healing ever since. She fought long and hard and at one point seemed to triumph over the disease, but then it returned. And then it spread.
However, this did not temper the language with which I interceded. Like I said, I believe in the limitless possibilities of what can happen when people pray.
Until the day my wife phoned me to say an email had arrived announcing she had passed away.
For several minutes I was silent.
Faith met finality. Her battle with cancer was over.
Still, without trying to spin the outcome we had not longed for, I believe I can say that in some measure the prayers of myself and others were answered, for although some would argue that our wrestling with God simply dragged on the process, in those seven years her two children — now in their early teens — got to spend more time with her, to receive her values, to have a more solid memory of the sound of her voice, to be held, and to be loved.
Do these outcomes shatter my faith? Hardly. It’s still there. God could raise her from the dead if He chose to, and I have heard stories where people prayed just that. Were they in denial? I don’t think so; I think there are other ways to manifest denial than by proclaiming the possibilities of miracles.
I believe we should just keep praying, right up to the last possible moment. If anything, this just increases my faith for the next need that is brought to our attention.
As to my recurrent weakness in coming boldly to God’s throne for my own needs, I simply offer this today: You pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.