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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Your Dying Spouse 647 - When God Says No {FMF}

Annnd...I'm bleeding from places that really should not bleed, breathing off the top of my lungs, and swellings along my neck and collarbones (UGLY!) make it hard to swallow anything more than a cold drink.

I don't do discouragement, but if I did, well.

Some kind of different plan would really be good right now. I can feel my mind darting, looking for avenues of escape...like trying to make deals with God:

God, if you heal me enough to go back to church, I promise I won't wear beach shorts there!

OK, maybe not that one.

Really, at this point it's more, "Please turn the avalanche aside...I don't want to face it."

But I guess I'm in good company. Jesus wanted out as well.

And God said no.

Is He saying No to me, too? Or does my assumption and acceptance of a No make it impossible for Him to eliver the healing He wants to give, as many pastors would say, or at least imply?

In other words, does this acceptance tie God's hands, as my de facto rejection of His Power?

Am I sabotaging my own healing?

It's not, I think, a vain question. After all...

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matt. 17:20)

Is my faith too small? In my acceptance of the dreadful, have I handed God a box of too-short drywall screws that simply can't hold the boards together? (Yes, I use drywall screws rather than wood screws.)

Bobby Schuller recently preached that we'd all prefer to have someone praying for us who would demand that God get the healing done, rather than a blandly pious, "Oh, Lord, we ask that our brother be healed, if it be Thy will..."

But I'm cut from the latter cloth; I hold with the understated request, and does this doom me?

It' an open quetion. I don't know the answer, but I do figure that God sometimes says No, and that it's not about our fervor, but about our trust.

But I may be wrong, and I would welcome y'all's cutting loose in the comments. Don't hold back.

I am really trying to figure this out, and I need your help. No kidding; I am hurting bad, and really need to try to understand this, even if the answer's what I don't want to hear.

He knew the fate that must befall,
yet He looked for an escape,
a chance to pass the bitter gall
that He'd been born to take.
In that place of olive-pressing
His blood was forced through skin,
in its scarlet, clear-expressing
the flames that roared within.
He asked with all His Holy Heart,
falling prostrate from the kneel;
rebuffed, He rose to play his part,
crushed the serpent with His heel.
Face your future, resolute,
and may unto you His Grace impute.

Music from Glen Campbell, with Rhinestone Cowboy.

Thanks to Carol Ashby, Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart is back on Kindle, and will be available in paperback soon.

Friends are everything. I couldn't have done it.

Marley, the canine waif from Afghanistan, whom WE helped save, has a Facebook page! Please drop by to see how happy he is today.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. Andrew, you never were one for asking the easy questions. :) Healing and how to pray are such tough topics to grapple with. I guess my take is yes, we should pray for healing, but not demand He bow to our will. Rather, we pray for His will to be done in our lives, submitting our desires to His plan . . . whether that includes healing here or in heaven. The most important thing is where we are putting our hope. Are we focusing on His hands and what He can do for us, or are we focusing on His face and who He is? If we limit ourselves to focus only on what He can do we miss out on so much of who He is.

    And, as you walk through these painful, horrible symptoms, to not push for healing is okay. To be willing to accept the reality that perhaps your healing won't come here is not reflective of a weak faith, but in my opinion, a yielded, stronger faith.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. And I continue to pray for you and Barb.

    This song came to mind as I considered your question... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNkDdXhjFy0

    1. Jeanne, thank you so much for this gracious, thoughtful comment. I love the dichotomy you present, between forcusing on His Face, or on His Hands. That's perfect.

      And the song is exactly the right choice; Barb and I LOVE Natalie Grant.

      And we thank you so much for your prayers.

  2. I have no answers and nothing to unleash. But I know you have inspired me, gifted me with poetry and praise. You lift me up. I feel your pain through your words and because of that, I carry you in my prayers often and ask others to pray for you.

    1. Lisa, wow...I am SO HONOURED by your words. Thank you so much for this, and most especially for your prayers, and the prayers you request on my behalf.

      That means more than I can say.

  3. "I don't know the answer, but I do figure that God sometimes says No, and that it's not about our fervor, but about our trust."
    As profound as ever, Andrew. I'll be remembering this one for a long time.

    1. Bethany, I'm so glad this resonated with you.

      I loved your blog post this week, and please know that you and yours are ever in our prayers.

  4. Once again, my friend (I always feel so presumptuous calling you "friend", as if I'm assuming, but that's a topic for another day :)), you don't pull any punches. You ask the difficult questions, the questions I've pondered over and over. Questions I feel I should know the answers to, if only I had my Christian act together. Thank you for not pulling punches!!

    1. Patti, I consider YOU a friend, and though I am nowhere near a 'hugger' (I'm Asian, and we don't DO that), when I see you in Heaven, you'll get a hug that you will not forget. Even in illness, I still resemble the gorilla that earned me the nickname 'Mongo'.

      For what it's worth, I figure the only dude who has His Christian act together is Christ, and He's a pretty easy grader with a good sense of humour.

    2. Oh, Andrew, your reply made me laugh and cry at the same time!! And don't you dare think I'm not going to be hunting you up so I can claim that hug. :)

    3. Patti, I'll be hunting you up at the same time.

      You don't know how many times your words have brought comfort and grace to my heart.

  5. Hi Andrew.
    As you know, I work in palliative care, and I struggle with this all the time. It breaks my heart (and makes me angry) when I hear preachers imply that lack of healing is down to lack of faith, putting more burden on vulnerable people. I don't have definite conclusions but I do have few tentative questions/thoughts in answer to the dilemma:
    1. We ask for healing but that is not the same as a cure (although I think we do get the two muddled when we ask). Healing is, I think, about wholeness as a person (not just a body) and our relationship with God.
    2. God always says yes to healing BUT His timing is very different to ours and we don't get a choice over that - so it may be gradual (or not) and it may not be complete until after death.
    3. 'If your son asks for a fish, will [you] give him a snake?' Does the way a child asks for something affect a parent's response? Doesn't a loving human parent consider the request, listening to the longing itself and reassuring any fears? We love it when our children have full confidence in us but it doesn't affect how we answer their requests, surely? So how much more would our Heavenly Parent respond?
    I think God loves your honesty, Andrew, and that's more important in prayer. I think you don't need to worry about the size of screws you have handed Him - I think you are the wood and He has His own supply of just the right size for you, including rawl plugs for better grip!
    Much love,

    1. Liz, thank you so much for this...and I love your take on the ifference between healing and the cure. (Tatally, irrelevant, but The Cure is one of my favourite bands, and "Friday I'm In Love" my favourite song.)

      God's timing is surely different, and His knowledge of what' needed (versus waht's desired) is truly parental...and it's an honour, here, to be child-like.

      Love back, from everyone here (me, Barb, numerous dogs, and an insanely brave cat)

  6. Andrew, your thoughts cause us all to think on these questions and I so appreciate you for this. While I do not have answers, I will say this .... I think the Lord is pleased with us when we believe that He can even if He does not. To hold onto Him in the middle of such a struggle takes great faith. I continue to pray for both you and Barb.

    1. Joanne, I think you're right...that God loves to see us try, and see us keep the faith.

      We thank you so much for your prayers!

  7. (((((Andrew)))))
    And Liz, thank you for articulating the feelings my mother and I have toward the church ladies who so loudly claim that their prayers cause healing, and our prayers for my late brother (acute leukemia) must have lacked faith. And thank you for your work with palliative care. Those people were God's angels to us.
    Andrew, I love Glen Campbell.

    Annie in Texas

    1. ((((((Annie!))))))

      We're so glad you're here, grateful for your affirming words to Liz, and positively delighted that you like Glen Campbell.

  8. Andrew,
    if you look over the few years I've been riding the roller coaster of this life next to your space, I'd say God has been doing some AMAZING healing in your wounded heart.
    So many calloused and bruised places have been exposed to the holy purifying love of God and the hurt and hate have been lasered/radiated away.

    Those kinds of cancers corrupt our hearts and must be eradicated before we're transformed into that heavenly being we were created to be.

    Though I weep for the agony you are currently suffering, I believe you have spoken the truth. It is not about you. It is about trusting that God IS ultimately good and that there is no evil in Him.
    If you believe that, then that is the faith that sustains us when we are up (but mostly when we are not).
    If you can suffer on earth and declare the goodness and glory of God, regardless of circumstance, then Satan is defeated and captives are set free. Only a good God can love us in spite of our inability to be holy as He is holy. And only a perfect God could become man and still be God and die blameless to sacrifice for our sins.
    Why have you not been taken to Heaven yet?
    I believe it's because somebody still needs to hear what God is showing you. Your voice is still needed, Andrew. Your heart is still faithful. (more faithful than when you first declared war on this illness out of your own strength.)

    The verse spoken to my heart today was Zechariah 4:6 "Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts."
    Though, in my head I thought the reference to be Nehemiah 8:10. That was a different verse but fitting to share with you.

    Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

    I pray Joy over you and Barb today, Andrew. May your hearts be filled and your spirits be lifted.

    (#18 on the linkup today)

    1. Tammy, my gosh...THATK YOU so much for this loely, life-and-faith-affirming comment. I am just so honoured.

      The Scripture from Zechariah and nehemiah is perfect.

      We are so grateful for your friendship, and your prayers.

  9. Hey Andrew, thank you for being so real. I personally do not think you are wrong for asking or thinking, in fact I think God wants us to share our sufferings and pain, even if its ugly or nasty (or involves other things). My only desire is to say thank you for sharing, I see you - and may Love be your portion and oh how I pray for healing, deeply and powerfully today. MAny Blessings Aliyah at 19 on FMF.

    1. Aliyah, thank you so much for this, and the affirmation is really heartwarming. I'm so grateful for this, and for your prayers.

      And I LOVED your post!

  10. My thoughts on your question is that sometimes God says no. He said no to saving my marriage to a physically abusive husband. I prayed expecting God to change my husband and instead he provided a way out of a dark situation for my children and me. My situation caused me to spend a lot of time pondering God's sovergnity and man's free will. Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to ponder this question. I am praying for you and Barb.-Jolene

    1. Jolene, first and foremost, I am so sorry that you had to face a situation like that...and I am glad that God gave you a way out.

      I like to think of my life as a collection of tiles in an enourmous mosaic; from the vantage point of a tile, I can't see the picture, but I know that there IS a picture. Does that make sense?

      We thank you so much for your prayers!

  11. Such a good question, Andrew, and I'm loving the discussion here! It is something I've thought about quite a bit before, and I don't claim to have definitive answers, but here are some thoughts.
    God's ways are beyond our human understanding. I think we'd like to understand how healing works so that it is predictable and there is a formula, but it is not like that. Complete healing and wholeness is our ultimate destiny in eternity, but on earth sometimes God says yes and sometimes he says no. Sometimes when he says yes, his way and his timing are not the same as ours.
    I think there's a difference between believing that God is able to heal and assuming that he will. I think we are called to have faith, but it is not the strength of our faith that works up the healing; it is the God our faith is in.
    I like the example of Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. He had faith that God could prevent the suffering that was to come, but he didn't demand it - he submitted himself to God's will, and I think that's what we are called to do to.
    One of the things that upsets me the most is to see Christians who are already in pain (physically or emotionally) having their suffering made worse by people questioning their faith, leaving them feeling to blame for the seeming absence of healing. I believe that is only the issue a tiny fraction of the time. I think it's easy to have faith when the healing comes quickly, but the real heroes are the ones who keep having faith in the midst of the pain and uncertainty, not knowing whether the healing will come here on earth, but still trusting in God's goodness. I think you are a prime example of one of those people. The strength of your faith shines through, and you are a hero!
    I'll stop there - hope some of my ramblings have been helpful!

    1. Lesley, your words are indeed helpful, and they've provided both epth and clarity to the conversation, a clarity I could not have achieved. I'm so grateful!

      I think you're right that it's rare that somepeople are left feeling 'responsible' for their own illness for a perceived lack of faith. Most Christians realize that it's a complex question, and the outliers with that kind of insensitivity are few and far between.

      We thank you so much for your contribution, and for being here!

  12. Andrew,

    I lurk and read and do not comment but felt the need to say something to your question about prayer and God's answers.

    If only it was as easy to ask and all we ask would be given to us. I mean after all, the Bible states in Matthew 7:7 - "Ask and it will be given to you." But if all we asked was always given to us, that reduces God to a genie whose greatest desire is to give us everything we want, and God is so much very more than that.

    Our human lives, when lived for the God of all creation, is to give Him honor, praise and glory. Our personal testimonies are evidence of His glory and grace, not His ability to give us what we want because that's what the Bible says.

    But what does ask and it will be given to you really mean if not to have God give us everything we want? The important word in that verse is "it," and we, in our human form, cannot define to God what "it" is that will be given to us. "It" could be earthly healing. "It" could be grace to get through another day. "It" could be heavenly healing. We don't know what "it" should and could be aside from the fact that "it" will give Him glory.

    I do not understand your suffering, it isn't anything I've experienced, but I can say from my months and years of lurking that your suffering is giving Him glory. Just like Job you aren't cursing God (well at least not in this public forum if you are) but rather you're looking to Him for strength and meaning. To me, that is giving Him glory, honor, and praise.

    I will continue to pray for you and all who love you, as I have been all along. God bless you!

    1. Shari, I am so grateful for your presence, and for this comment.

      You';re absolutely right, that what we ask has to be in accordance with His Will. It can make it hard - I mean, we want that which we want!

      But He sees the whole plan, and our greatest joy is ultimately accepting Him, and what He wants.

      We thank you so much for your prayers!

  13. A couple of points, my friend. Sickness is NOT a test of faith. Don't ever doubt your faith. I can't answer the why of your suffering, but there is a Divine reason and who are we, mere mortals and created beings, to question the Creator. Our years of suffering are real for us, but a mere speck for the Creator of time. Or in the vein of your thinking, He may just be blinking at the moment, not ignoring you. Break Psalm 46:10 into two thoughts. Be still ... then shift to Know that I am God. The transition is subtle yet transformative. Without the first, we are incapable of understanding the second. You, Barb {and the dogs} are in my constant thoughts and prayers.
    Until we meet in real eternal time,

    1. Joe, I love the idea that He may just be blinking. Thank you for this!!!!!

      We truly, sincerely appreciate your prayers. It's really bad; friends like you make the world a brighter place.

  14. Phil 3:10 "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;" I heard Joni Erickson Tada speak on suffering and the invisible audience (angels and demons) who watch how we respond to our sufferings. God is worthy of our worship always, especially as we join the fellowship of suffering. Not an easy assignment, but one which Jesus knows intimately. Thank you for your tenacious words of hope. Blessings!

    1. Vicki, thank you so much for this...Joni is one of my heroes, and someone against whom I always measure my faith.

      It's not easy, but as Joni has shown us, it can be done.

      Blessings back!

  15. "Father, take this cup from me..."

    Why does God string us along, stretching out the years, then the months, to the last hour, the last minute, the last breathe.... ? So much suffering. Why, God? WHY?!

    Does HE do it for the testimony of our faith in Him while our very spirit and soul are fractured to pieces with blind pain? We say to Him... "because You are the great Physician, Lord..." and yet there is no sweet eternal relief? Just continual suffering.

    Maybe you are fighting with YOURSELF, not Him. I understand your want to stay... and your desire for it to end, to be whole and healed with Him in heaven. I'm sorry, Andrew, I don't have the easy answer you're looking for here.

    The only thing I can offer to you is mine and Jerry's ongoing prayers.

    Andrew... let go, and let God.

    1. Diana, I love this comment...and yes, I am fighting with myself. There's no question of that. I feel I have a duty here, and yet...God is calling me home.

      You and Jerry are in our prayer, every day.

  16. Your cross is almost too much to bear, but you do. Why God, is it so difficult? Only He knows. But He does create beauty from ashes. Your suffering is strange mixture of the grace of God and the frailty of man. It is a sweet savor. I think it would be easy to feel abandoned by God during the intense painful episodes. Yet you know He is there with you helping carry you through each crisis. All of us need God so very much. I don't know what I'd do without Him. Andrew, you are in my prayers. Prepare yourself for your healing, whether it be here or in eternity. May the love of God comfort and sustain you. May angels minister to you like they did with Elijah. May God bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you. Appreciate you, my friend.

    1. My dear Norma, you may not know what a balm your comment is, upon my soul. I am so grateful for your words, and for your love.

      The healing will come. Here, or later. I am OK with that.

      I appreciate you more than you will know in this life; I will tell you of this, in God's presence.

  17. Hi,
    I stumbled on your blog and it has been a blessing to me. Long, long story short, I went thru horrific experiences in childhood and buried them deep. I married a Christian. Anyhow, about 7 years into our marriage we started having problems, and God led us to this therapist who was amazing. I went through suicidal thoughts, cutting, etc. After 7 years of therapy our lives came back together. I had gone to college during that time, and was accepted to 5 of the 6 schools to be trained as a psychologist. Just when I thought my life was on track, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So I went thru treatment. After I was done with treatment I told doc that I was so tired. Answer: we’ve checked your Thyroid and you’re fine. Go live your life, you’re cured!
    . Got pregnant 10 months later with the help of AI, (had a miscarriage in 1998) and really wanted to be a mom. 8 weeks into pregnancy I called my doctor c/o low grade fever. He said go to the hospital if it continues over the weekend. So I went to ER just thinking that I needed fluids, but after they took one vial of blood they knew something was wrong. They called my husband to get back to the hospital but they put me into isolation. They told my family breast cancer had metastasized to my brain and I would die within the week. My fever went up to 205 degrees and I was admitted to ICU. Then a nurse said “we’ve got to get her out of here” and I was transferred to a hospital in Detroit. I was in a coma like state, only giving the nurses my address in the morning. My husband told me when he told me I lost the baby I frowned. I woke up two days after Thanksgiving. I had to learn to walk again and write my name. Over and over again! Infectious disease docs told me that I was a day or two from death, but for some reason, my body just kicked back in. They had me on every antibiotic they could think of and nothing was working. I had a long recovery, but I still needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. They found ONE person out of almost 5 million people that matched me! I had my transplant on 4-12-03 and am still alive today. We went on to try and adopt from China, that is another long story, but their medical director said they would never give us a baby, so we switched to Vietnam. I knew I really wanted to be a mom. So I flew over to get our little teeny, tiny 7 months old, 11 pound baby girl from Vietnam! I had asked the Lord not to miss anything and we didn’t! But why am I telling you this? Way back when I was at the first hospital, well meaning ladies came from our church and laid hands on me. At this point, I was so sick, weak, tired and had to concentrate to not fall off the bed! After, one of the ladies said to me Diane, I want you to ask the doctors to redo your bloodwork and see if you’re healed. I looked at her and said no, because if I wa healed I’m sure I would feel so much better than I do. It wasn’t that my faith was weak, I just knew I would be jumping around and happy and I would have felt like new. I think she was kind of shocked, but she said okay.
    Anyway, fast forward to Spring, 2008 and I had been having trouble walking any distance. I joined a Gvhd group— graft vs. host disease which is where your bone marrow recognizes it’s not in the right body and attacks your soft tissues—and I had a CT scan ordered and found out I had BO of the lungs. I found a doctor that understands I want to live at least as long as I can to get my daughter thru high school and I’ve told the Lord God and this fall she’ll be going into 7th Grade! He has heard my prayer! Funny story,...when my daughter was 4 yo, she came up to me one night and said “Mama, guess who Daddy’s gonna marry when you die?” Shocked, but keeping the smile on my face, I said “Whi sweetie?” And she gets this big grin on her face and points to herself and says Me!” Oh how we laughed and laughed at that! She is a great daughter we have been blessed to say is ours! I find your blog endless encouragement.

    1. Diane, thank you so much for sharing this. Your testimony is a shining example of God's grace, and I am just so honoured that you chose to detail it here.

      I'm going to print this out and magnet it to the refrigerator.

      You are an inspiration, and I am humbled that you chose to drop by.

      Thank you, Diane.

  18. Is He saying No to me, too? Or does my assumption and acceptance of a No make it impossible for Him to eliver the healing He wants to give, as many pastors would say, or at least imply?

    In other words, does this acceptance tie God's hands, as my de facto rejection of His Power?

    Am I sabotaging my own healing?

    These questions take great courage to write out before all who read your post. Misunderstandings comes in group sometimes. There is the group who would say, well you must have sin in your life, the group that says, you are not doing this or this. I had a lady one time tell me I needed the gift of tongue to get well. Hummm...Christ never needed the gift of tongues to do His ministry. How badly we need your voice in the Christian world. Too many out there who do not have the courage to ask these questions opening but think about them in secret. You are totally not worried about anyone responses or you would not throw this post and many more out there. The longer I live the less I ask and the more I trust Him, not my condition or location or status, or anyone really. He is good, my condition is not good, I am frail and undone, but He is still good, even though I have great needs that cannot be given, He is still good. If everything I put my trust in fail but Him I am the riches women on this earth. I am whole inside but outside the cracks are getting bigger but He is good. I so appreciate your writing in light of the "light" (the bible word not mind) afflictions laid on you. I have probably said all the wrong things but when my heart jumps in there I just keep my fingers going. Thank You.

    1. Wise Hearted (I LOVE tha handle, and it's very accurate), thank you somuch for this.

      I love the kind and thoughtful way you've addressed my words...which were, as you divined, hard to write. You brought them to a place of love and safety.

      And the phrase, "...I am frail and undone, but He is still good..." - WOW. Brilliant.

      Thank YOU.