Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer. Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing.
That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.” Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been healed! But before he could think much about it she said, “He died.” Compolo felt terrible.
But she continued, “Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
But the lady told Compolo, “After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, his last three days were his best days in a long long time.”
There are three things we can learn about pain in Tony’s story…
- Pain is purposeful
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 “…even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
Even though we may be hurting… God will not let that pain be wasted. Like the Apostle Paul (and the husband in our story above), we may be asking God to take away what hurts. If He were to do that, we would miss out on the growth that will come as a result of enduring through it. A lesson learned without pain is sometimes a lesson we have to learn again. It seems that time after time in scripture we find breakthrough only comes with breakage… of hearts, of self, of desires, or of our own attitudes.
When we begin to see our challenges through God’s lens, we realize that it is in our lowest points that we receive our greatest blessings. At the end of your rope? Feeling at the bottom of the pit? Don’t give up. Your pain matters and God will use it. Not for torment… but for triumph.
2) Prayer is powerful
“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9
The husband in today’s story appreciated the prayer from Tony Campolo. You can picture the scene… he comes home full of hope… ready for the cancer he was battling to fall away under the mighty declared word from a strong and powerful prayer.
He wanted a healing prayer. God healed him. It just wasn’t the way the man expected it.
When it didn’t happen right away, the man became bitter and thought that God was ignoring him. In actuality, God had every intention of granting his request. By calling him home to Heaven. Prayer is powerful and important. We need to do it with faith. But what kind of faith? Faith that God can do it? (We know He can). Faith that He’ll do it quickly? (God does things in His own perfect time). Faith that it will be done the way we want it to come out? (most of us want our prayers answered our own specific way).
We need to pray with the faith that (when it comes to healing) God always says yes. God always heals. Sometimes right away…sometimes a delay for our growth… and sometimes to call us home.
Prayer shouldn’t be a last ditch effort… it should be the powerful first step. Pray expectantly… pray intentionally… and pray faithfully. God knows what’s best…and He always brings healing.
- Peace is possible
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
This young lady’s husband went to Heaven with a smile on his soul. How?
Before God said yes and healed him by bringing him home… He gave him a great gift… peace. Tony Campolo prayed with him… and the power of God showered his heart with an unexplainable sense of calm.
Feeling stressed about your pain? How long has it been bothering you?
Looking like the situation is hopeless? helpless? empty?
Remember… Jesus can calm the storm. With a simple word, Christ made the waves cease and the clouds part. Panic was replaced with perspective. The Alpha and Omega… Prince of Peace… Lord and Savior of the Universe came to earth so that we can overcome.
Your pain… He feels it.
Your heartbreak… He feels it.
Your setback… He feels it.
Your life… He sees it. Pray out. Claim healing. He will be there. When the waves crash against the side of your life… don’t cower and shrink back. There is nothing on this planet that Christ can’t guide you through. Peace is not only possible in chaos… God specializes in providing it.
And when you hurt. He heals. Every time.
Your pain has a purpose… your prayer has power… and peace is possible.
Stay strong and know that I am praying for your restoration.