5-27-16 - Why Wait?

When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

How often do we find ourselves thinking, “I wish God would hurry up…” or “When is my prayer going to be answered?” We don’t know what the servant in our story thought when all of a sudden he began to feel better. Had he prayed himself? Was he a believer in God? Was he grateful? Did the people in his life think, “Well, this is good, but if this Jesus guy could heal him, why wait until he’s nearly dead?”

Of course, we know Jesus healed him pretty much as soon as the man’s master asked. Much of the time, people see prayer as a last resort, and simply don’t ask. One of the last things Prince said publicly was to tell his fans who were concerned about reports of his illness, “Wait a few days before you waste your prayers.” (If I meet Prince in heaven someday, I’ll ask him about his theology of prayer and God’s power...)

So much about the timing of God’s activity in our lives is mysterious. Sometimes it seems we wait years for some movement, and then it begins to flow in a matter of weeks. Did we open something up? Or was there timing around God’s plan? Does God have a plan, or is God constantly adjusting to ours? For instance, I don’t believe premature deaths are necessarily “God’s plan.” God has given humankind freedom, and that has some play in the picture.

Of all the leaps of faith we are asked to take as we move closer to God in Christ, perhaps the biggest is trusting that God is never late. Often it feels like God is, especially when prayers for healing are met with death. Trusting in God’s love and good will for us is a decision we make, and stick to, no matter what evidence we see or don’t see. And there is blessing in the process itself, in praying, trusting, expecting blessing, fearing the worst, coming back to trusting. We are shaped by the prayer itself, as well as by whatever “outcome” we receive.

This story is a wonderful reminder to us: pray early and often, ask Jesus to heal other people, remember he can do it wherever he is. And wherever we are, he is.

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