Our valley has been choked with thick, disheartening smoke for the better part of a month as our beloved Glacier National Park burns. It’s a tough fire to fight; Lake McDonald is a bowl, collecting smoke and giving it nowhere to disperse. Aircraft have reported being unable to even find the fire, so concentrated is the smoke.
(Note: this post was written in August of 2018.)
So, yesterday morning in church, we asked God to deliver the goods. We asked for rain.
He answered. That afternoon, a cold front bequeathed us a steady drizzle worthy of Seattle.
Today it not only continued, but turned into snow at higher elevations. In August. Granted, that isn’t actually unusual in Glacier, but this year, it couldn’t have been more welcome.
And I’m…kinda flabbergasted.
Happy, but disbelieving.
God healed my knee during a recent hiking trip. I know what my knee felt like on just Advil; this wasn’t that. No pain at all, not even a one of ten. I could walk in total confidence.
And again I’m…disbelieving. Did that really happen?
This is revealing a lot in my soul. Maybe it’s just the uncomfortable questions of Why not all those other prayers back through…I dunno, my entire life?
So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church.
On the night before Herod was to bring him out for execution, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while the sentries in front of the door guarded the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, “Quick, get up!” Then the chains fell off his wrists. “Get dressed,” the angel told him, “and put on your sandals.” And he did so. “Wrap your cloak around you,” he told him, “and follow me.” So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what took place through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. After they passed the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and immediately the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected.” When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many had assembled and were praying. He knocked at the door in the gateway, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. She recognized Peter’s voice, and because of her joy, she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gateway.
“You’re crazy!” they told her. But she kept insisting that it was true. Then they said, “It’s his angel!” (Acts 12:5-15)
Unlike me, Peter’s prayer chain had seen wild things. Lame men walking. The death of Ananias and Sapphira. The resurrection of Tabitha.
Yet they were shocked to see God answer their prayer.
Yep. We never change. There’s always that doubt.
What if God chooses not to deliver this time? He doesn’t have to, you know.
Or…God doesn’t operate like that anymore. He allows suffering to remain and grows us through it.
Or…The Christian life isn’t about this stuff. Quit yammering about impending breakthrough all the time and start being obedient.
There’s a kernel of truth in each. But sometimes I wonder if I’ve learned my theology of suffering a little too well. Jesus also crafted glory and sanctification through answered prayers. Your mom comes to Christ after decades of prayer. A friend tries a new injection and suddenly gets complete relief from years of chronic, de-employing back pain. Your relationship is snatched from the jaws after an illuminating, healing talk that only God could have inspired.
How many times did his disciples stand there with their teeth in their mouth, years into his ministry, still wondering what it all meant?
It’s humility and comfort to know that I’m like them. Humbling, because the human heart never changes. Comforting, because if there was hope for them, there is hope for us.
May God heal our hearts to walk in total confidence.