Daniel 3:17-18 (NASB)
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image…”
My brother’s fiancée’s father died today. We have prayed for his healing and when he entered hospice, we prayed he would be able to attend the wedding of his daughter and my brother. They planned to have a simple ceremony with a Justice of the Peace inside the hospice center, so her father could attend. The only thing Jennie wanted as a wedding present was for her dad to give her away. However, he would not be able to do that. The wedding has now changed into a celebration of her dad’s life. The day will still be precious, full of love and family, but now also full of loss and grief.
There is incredible comfort knowing her dad has the hope of Jesus but there is also incredible sadness in having to let go of him on this side of heaven. The miracle being prayed for did not happen.
Unanswered prayers. Unwitnessed miracles. Anyone who has walked the walk of faith, hand in Hand with God has had to wrestle with the truth that sometimes the prayers we pray are not answered in the ways we hope for. Sometimes the miracles we ache for do not come to pass. Our spouse leaves. Our child is not healed. The medical report comes back positive. Our faith is challenged as we know we are called to pray.
Hebrews 4:16 reminds us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Thessalonians 5:17(ESV) urges us to “pray without ceasing”
Jesus Himself teaches us about prayer. Matthew 6:7, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition… for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
So as people of prayer and people of faith, what do we do? We know God answers prayers. We know God is responsive to our need. We know not a single word raised up in desperate hope will be unheard. But we also know that the ways of God are higher than ours. We know that God doesn’t always completely heal the disease, or miraculously change the heart, or remove the challenges of this life. As people of prayer and people of faith, how are we to pray with hope?
With two simple words…. Even If.
The difference between real faith and Santa Clause faith are in the words, even if.
The difference between trusting God with everything and fickle trust are in the words, even if.
The difference between living for heaven and living only for this life are in the words, even if.
Will we still believe even if what we desperately pray for doesn’t come to pass? Will we still turn our eyes towards heaven even if we don’t understand the struggle? Will we place our hope on the character and truth of who God is as revealed to us in Scripture?
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
Matthew 6:31-33(NASB) “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’… for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Matthew 28:20(NASB), Jesus speaking, “and lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age”.
There is no question that we live in difficult, challenging, and even dangerous times. The hope of heaven is real but until then, we are to be people who can pray “Even If” prayers.
Even if You do not remove the pain, or discomfort of my life, I will trust You.
Even if I walk my own road of suffering for your Name’s sake, I will follow You.
Even if You ask of me everything, I will pray the words of Your Son, “not my will, but Yours be done.”
There is no way we will ever be able to stand against the trials of this life if we do not become people who can pray even if prayers. And the only way we can become people who can pray those prayers, is to wrap ourselves in the Love of God. If God was anything but completely Holy and Loving, then even if prayers give no hope. It is only because we have the hope that no matter what God allows in our lives, it has been sifted through His Loving and Gentle Hands. He is not calling us to pointless and needless suffering and trial. God is calling us to be people who trust so much in His Love that we can walk into anything life throws at us, knowing that God is still in control and He is moving endlessly to redeem and call all people to Himself.
Just when the world mocks and laughs at people who pray and trust with the words, even if, God reminds us that He has already gone with way of suffering or the sake of Love. Jesus already prayed the words, even if, as He uttered, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Even if it means the Cross, I will go, Jesus said. Jesus has already done more and suffered more than we will ever know. All for Love.
God is calling us to allow Him to love us so fervently that no matter what life wants to destroy and discourage in us, we can stand and pray, “Even if… I hope in You.”
Mary Quillin is a city-girl-turned-country-girl in her new life in North Dakota. She has been married to her hubby for 16 years and has 3 wonderfully, different kids who have begun their teen years (and she would appreciate all the prayers as possible on that note). After many years in full time ministry, Mary is learning how to show up and daily discover the journey of being available for whatever Jesus leads her to. She spends her days trying to build a welcoming shabby chic home in the heartland of North Dakota while learning to write and run.