Today my pastor, Pastor Russ Weidel, spoke about prayer and in his message he said that God has four responses to prayer…
NOT YET &
YOU’VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME?
He added the fourth somewhat in humor but I found it quite possible, even probable, that sometimes God is shaking His head at our requests. Pastor Russ also said that God does not always say yes to our prayers. He always answers but the answer is not always yes.
It reminded me of when I became paralyzed 27 years ago. As a new wife, new mom, young woman and follower of Christ, I prayed for Jesus to heal me. I prayed that I would be able to wiggle a toe. I prayed that I would be able to lift my leg. I prayed for feeling when the doctors stuck a needle in my leg. I prayed to walk. I prayed for a miracle.
Others prayed for this too. I know many family members, friends, and even strangers prayed that I would walk again. They went to the throne of God on my behalf, asking for a miracle. I look back and am amazed at the people who prayed for me.
After a while I felt like I was letting people down. They would tell me they were praying for me to be healed yet month after month passed and no matter how hard I tried and how much I wanted it, I still wasn’t able to make my brain force my toe to wiggle. It was a terrible feeling which caused me to have many questions and confusions. I doubted if my faith was strong enough. I questioned if I wasn’t trying as hard as I could. I wondered if I had done something wrong and if God was punishing me. I struggled with guilt for not being healed.
But God doesn’t always say yes.
In my case, God did not say yes to those prayers. But that’s not the end of my story. While I have not been healed physically, 27 years later I can clearly see how much He has blessed me and used me as a paraplegic. Paralysis is my story and He always uses our stories beyond what we can imagine.
Instead of walking, God said yes to allowing me to grow closer to Him. Through all of my surgeries, pressure sores, muscle spasms and sleepless nights, God has used those trials to help me draw closer to Him. Nights spent alone in a hospital room caused me to cry out to Him for rest. Times of intense fear caused me to seek Him for comfort. Days struggling with unending pain had me calling to Him for strength beyond my own.
God said yes to giving me an opportunity to share my story with people that I never would have met if I wasn’t in a wheelchair. I have met countless people who are disabled or know someone who is disabled or just are struggling and need someone to talk to about their pain. He has given me a mission field of people who I can reach since I have endured so much physically and emotionally from my paralysis.
God said yes to giving me my deepest desire of more children. I loved my first son and was so grateful for his life but God blessed our family by growing it with a little boy from across the ocean and then surprising us all with a baby girl too. I never expected God to answer my heart’s desire with THREE beautiful children.
God said yes to letting me find humor on tough days. Not every day and every situation is funny, but God has given me a gift to find laughter in the midst of my trials. One day I had a terrible bowel accident when we were at Penn State University for a track meet. I sobbed that day, hating my life and mortified at the embarrassment of such an awful circumstance. But now it makes me laugh because it was the day I met my future son-in-law, Jaiden. (Crappy way to meet someone, huh? See what I did there.)
God said yes to building my character. He has allowed awkward moments, unbelievable situations and some difficult testing of my faith to grow me in many areas. I have grown stronger through my weakness; thankful when it’s hard to find joy; trusting when I am fearful; and dependent when I want to have control. As my pastor said today, God is more concerned about our character than our comfort.
God said yes to so many things which are better than walking. After 27 years of sitting in a wheelchair, peeing through a tube, having accidents at the worst times, enduring spasms that make me cry, experiencing 19 surgeries, countless hospital stays and even being on death’s door a few times, I have learned that sometimes the best gifts come from God “not always saying yes.”
And the best part… I don’t believe God said no to my prayer of walking. I believe He instead has answered with a NOT YET! Because one day I am going to be before God in Heaven and He is going to answer my prayers. He will say ARISE and I will immediately be healed and spend eternity walking down the streets of gold. (Plus racing Zach, pole vaulting with Alex & dancing with Morgan.)
What a glorious day that will be!