One thing I love about the charismatic church is that we believe miracles happen today. We believe God is still BIG and capable of these mind-bending acts, and that He is above the logical! I’ve seen miracles personally that I can’t deny and I am a believer that miracles happened in Acts, and that they continue today. While believing in the miraculous is joyous and hopeful, one thing that isn’t talked about as often is how many can feel when the miracle doesn’t come. What do we do (and say) when we (or the people we love) don’t see the breakthrough?
I’ve heard from many that we shouldn’t create a theology from our hurt. We shouldn’t say, “miracles don’t happen” just because we don’t see them. I agree with this, but what do we tell people when it hasn’t happened? We don’t create a theology around our disappointment, but do we deny how painful the moment can be for us and our loved ones? Do we just ignore the pain or confusion? I’ve seen many who are diligent in praying and declaring for miracles but cannot cope when it doesn’t happen.
I have a friend who’s struggled with migraines for years. He would cry out to God, beg for healing, and do everything that anyone suggested. He heard that if he repented, forgave others, asked an anointed person for prayer, prayed more (and with more feeling) and/or had more faith, he would get breakthrough. He did everything he could, and in frustration from not seeing a change, he eventually turned from faith completely. He thought ‘if God is able to heal, but is this condemning and judging when I am trying so hard, He must not be good.’ The very real exhaustion of trying everything and feeling like God didn’t approve was painful. The self-condemning and anxious agony felt dark, and it IS dark.
Just because God heals doesn’t mean that when you aren’t healed, He wants to condemn you. The oversight of this tension is leading to believers being exhausted and leaving them feeling blamed and abandoned.
How exhausting it is to struggle with something so awful, like migraines, or anxiety, or blindness, or chronic pain! Jesus died to take away this pain and I’ve seen Him do it! Miracles do happen, but what about when they don’t? What does God want us to think then? Satan loves to use the already frustrating illnesses to also cause mental stress and spiritual exhaustion as well!
A few years ago, I struggled with an ailment for months. It affected every part of my life. I grew emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. While I was used to going to God for comfort, I couldn’t talk to Him without being triggered. Why wasn’t He healing me? What else could I do to receive the healing that I knew existed?! I was desperate and hurting, and then I’d hear someone say that I should just (fill in the blank here). I stopped seeing Jesus as loving and sweet. He was a puzzle and a frustrating genie. I thought either I must not be that important to Him or He must not be there.
Surrendering my doubt to Him and trusting Him despite my questions was the most challenging part of the ailment. In fact even more challenging than the physical or mental effects. I felt that the Father of my heart wasn’t there for me, and that I needed to do more. It was too much to bear. It was compulsive, scary and lonely.
But this was NEVER what God wanted for us. He didn’t want us to only know He loves us when the miracle comes. He wanted us to be able to rest in Him no matter what happens. Yes, we push for the miracle. We pray and we ask because God is big, and we care about our earth looking more like heaven. But I’m done seeing the self-condemning and defeated Christians who think that if their prayers aren’t answered, then God must not care. And I imagine His heart breaks too.
God longs to comfort the broken-hearted. There are so many mysteries in life as to why the miracle doesn’t happen right away, but just as God wants us to be free from physical pain, I think He JUST AS MUCH wants us to be free from the mental torment that sometimes attacks us when we aren’t healed. Satan comes in and says “You must have done something wrong. You don’t have enough faith. It’s your fault. Does God really care? Is He really real?” Let me tell you- I don’t know ANYONE who sees miracles all of the time. In fact, I worked at a church and saw that the leaders frequently had things they were still praying for. Just because you haven’t seen the breakthrough does not mean you aren’t spiritually at a place you should be. While we can try to repent, and forgive, and pray… if we don’t see breakthrough, we can rest in the fact that there are many mysteries and that we cannot know all things!
I just see so many people being hard on themselves when the miracle doesn’t happen, and I see God crying. This shouldn’t be the burden we are bearing! It is God who makes the miracle possible, and while we can ask God to show us the way to press in for the miraculous, feeling distraught, defeated, alone, and disapproved of is not what God had in mind when He invited you into this miraculous world. So while I love that we know about the miraculous, I think God wants to teach us how to trust Him and feel loved by Him when we don’t see the miraculous. He wants us to acknowledge the mystery and not berate and torment ourselves.
What would it look like for us to pray for miracles and to believe they happen, but to also trust God in the mystery of why they don’t always happen? I see Him wanting to hold His hurting bride, to hold all people who are feeling exhausted spiritually.
Yes, God gives us power, but He is also our loving Father and the miraculous isn’t a formula. So, let us have confidence in who we are when we aren’t healed or when the miracle doesn’t happen, just as we would be when we see what we want. Because God isn’t only good when we see signs, and trusting this may be the biggest walk of faith we do. While the enemy wants us to be completely defeated when we don’t see the miracle, we know Jesus sees all and works for our good. We may compare ourselves, assuming that every strong Christian experiences constant, perfect miracles, but this is not what I’ve seen. We are all trying to figure it out. What does it look like to rest in God even when we don’t have the answers?
This is the hope I have for people who haven’t seen their miracle: to rest in the mystery and to trust that God is good even in the hard times. I hope they can throw off the burden of perfectionism and striving and of believing it is all their fault. And while doing this, I hope they still pray for miracles, but without the burdens attached- only with ease and lightness of heart.