ASK THE PASTOR
Dear Pastor Charles:
Jesus said in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Some time ago my mother became seriously ill. I prayed and prayed for her in the name of Jesus, but she died. Why didn’t God honor His Word and do what I asked him to do?
Dear Serious Doubter:
I am truly sorry for the loss of your mother. My heart goes out to you and your family. When I was active as the Pastor of a church, one of the hardest things that I had to do was to try to explain to a grieving family why God allowed their loved one to die. May I kindly say to you that each of us has an appointed hour to stand before God and only He knows when that time is. To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray according to His will and in harmony with His nature and His ways. Also, we must be careful never to lift a single verse of Scripture out of it’s context and then blame God because we fail to understand what He is telling us.
Let’s look a little deeper into this promise of Jesus. In the very next Chapter Jesus sheds more light on the subject of answered prayer: John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” Here is the largest two letter word in the dictionary; ‘IF’. Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you.” To remain in Jesus means to abide or to live with Him. It means to walk with Him according to His ways and according to His will. It means to be in fellowship with Him which will allow you to be in tune with His program and to see things His way. A little further on Jesus says in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” So what fruit is He talking about? It is the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” This fruit grows only as we come to know and obey God and begin to adjust our lives in accordance with His will and His Word. The fruit of the Spirit matures in us as we yield our lives to His Holy Spirit. When we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit we come to know and trust God more fully and begin to see our lives in the light of eternity. We can then trust and accept that God is always answering our prayers in our best interest because of His great love for us. We can accept that God is carrying out His work in us through the sometimes unpleasant but natural circumstances of life according to His greater knowledge and His perfect love.
My dear doubting friend, I can personally attest that it is troubles and sorrow that brings about growth and especially the third fruit mentioned which is peace. This is peace that comes from trusting God that will allow us to accept all situations in the knowledge that He is in complete control and has a perfect plan for everything that happens in our lives, whether good or bad. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Php 4:6-7, “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In looking back over the years, I can see that God has used the tragedies, and even the sinful acts I have committed in my life, to season me for His service of helping others to find Him. Sometimes though, there are situations for which there seems to be no earthly answer. It is during these very times that we can be assured that Jesus has gone before us as our Divine example. On the night before Jesus was crucified, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples to pray. The Scriptures give us the story: Mark 14:34-36, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus was troubled by His circumstances and asked God to deliver Him if possible. Yet God gives us the complete picture of His circumstance in Hebrews 5:7-10, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” As you can see, God had a far better plan for Jesus’ life than to deliver Him from His impending trial of suffering and separation from God. His plan was sweeping in scope and eternal in nature.
Please do not blame God or yourself for the loss of your mother. Be assured that God loves her very much just as He loves you very much. I would like to share a little secret with you if you promise not to tell anyone. When someone asks me to pray for their health, I always do, but I also pray for their eternal spirit. If I pray for your health and God answers my prayer and you are healed from whatever affliction you may have, God has helped you until your next illness or until you die of other causes. Then I have helped you a little. However, if I pray for you to be blessed in spirit and God hears me, you are blessed for all eternity and I have helped you greatly.
My prayer for you is that God will bless you with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.