In today’s Gospel reading, we see Jesus heal a man who had been sick for 38 years. To the man, Jesus asked, “Do you want to be well?” And when the man answered in the affirmative, Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk.
We often wish everything could be that easy for us when we pray. We want Christ to give us that yes, to tell us that we will be healed, that our ailments will go away, or that our prayers will be answered. But sometimes that just isn’t the case.
Sometimes we hear a no from God—and no is a difficult word to hear, especially when it’s the answer to a prayer we so desperately desire. That no can be heartbreaking. It can be devastating. That no can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. It may even lead to the person wondering if God cares about him. How many times have you heard people say that God didn’t answer their prayers so He must not exist? They mistakenly believe that He didn’t answer them, when in fact He just said no. Because of this, they begin to lose faith.
Instead of becoming firmer in their resolve, instead of trying to determine the reason for the no, and instead of trusting in God’s goodness, many people dismiss Him. They feel rejected by Him, so they reject Him.
But when God does say no, we must have hope that He is following that up with “Trust Me. I have something even better planned.” This trust leads us to understand that, no matter what, He is also telling us, “Do not worry; I am right here with you through this. I’ve got you, and I will never let go.”
We may never understand why God has said no to the things we pray for, especially if—in our eyes—those desperate prayers are for good and holy things. So we pray more, we talk to God, we ask for understanding and guidance, and we allow His will to be done. We ask for His protection against a world that wants us to believe that He doesn’t exist and against people who chip away at our faith telling us that “a good God wouldn’t allow bad things to happen to good people.”
We ask for the fortitude to understand the difference between God’s perfect will and God’s permissive will. We ask to feel at peace with His decision, knowing that someday we will find clarity.
And we ask for help in understanding that God will make us well, just as He did with the man who had been sick for 38 years; it may just not be in the time or the way that we had hoped or thought.
But rest assured, when we follow God’s laws, remain faithful to Him, and put our trust in Him, He will make us well.
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.
Feature Image Credit: amorsanto, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/3759-charla-con-dios