Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
There are no words to describe how grateful I am for the number of people who continuously offered up prayers on behalf of little Grace in the weeks that we fought to save her life. People came and prayed with us at the hospital, sent notes and word that they were praying and simply covered us in petition to God to heal her. Their prayers held us together and offered us hope.
Later, as we received condolences and sympathies for our loss, there were some who commented about the prayers that had been offered. “It is so hard to understand why God didn’t answer our prayers.” Most faithful church attendees will be quick to tell you that God always answers prayer, but sometimes the answer is “no” and that is hard for us to accept.
I believe that is true, but here is the crazy thing – I don’t think our prayer was unanswered OR that the answer was no. If you’ve read the post “Our Story…the details” you already know my assessment. I believe that God’s ways are just far beyond what we can understand. I think he fulfilled our prayers for her healing completely and permanently. She will never know pain or hospitals or the limitations of a physical disability. He healed her.
Jesus can relate, I think. When he was about to face his betrayal and crucifixion he spent an agonizing night in the garden. He told the disciples that his soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” and his prayers reveal that his humanity desired a way out of the situation he was facing, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” But his prayer didn’t end there – “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” He cried out to God with a plea that things be different but ultimately surrendered to God’s will. I doubt very much that His son’s cruel death on a cross was what God wanted, but it was a necessary step in a bigger plan.
There is a part of me that wants to cry out to God “That isn’t what I meant!” or “Why didn’t You heal her and let us keep her?” But as much as I don’t have answers to those things and I won’t even pretend to understand, I trust that God is loving…. always. He does hear our prayers and He answers them. Despite our limited view and ability to grasp, His ways are higher than ours, better than ours, and always for His glory. I have to believe that Grace’s death was a necessary step in a bigger plan. It wasn’t just about that horrible moment when we said goodbye to our little girl.
If God had said yes to what Jesus wanted in that moment in the garden, where would our salvation be? I pray that I am always able, no matter how desperate my prayer, to pray as Jesus prayed. “Not as I will, but as You will, Lord.”