A few weeks ago, I sat with a dear friend who is walking through a deep and dark night of the soul. I listened and we cried and prayed together for a long time.
We prayed God would meet her in her need; we prayed God would meet the needs of her family and friends around her; and we prayed God would be the lifter of her head and show her the way for every step she is to take in the days and weeks ahead. And when we were done, and she was gone, I felt a definite and certain sense of peace, but I also felt a twinge of conviction and regret.
I was convicted because I realized that while I had prayed for many, many things for my friend, all good things, I had never once asked God in faith to heal the sickness in her body and soul irrevocably, once and for all. I had asked God to help her through her sickness; I asked God to help her in her sickness, but I never asked for full and complete healing right there, in that moment, as we prayed together.
And I was convicted because I believe in a God who heals. Dramatically. Instantaneously. Miraculously. But I think, deep down, I don’t believe He heals like that when it’s just me who is praying.
I saw my mom later that day and shared my heart with her about my time with my friend. I shared my conviction and regret about not asking the Lord for full and complete healing for my friend and about my hesitancy to ask God for such a big thing like that because deep down I believed He didn’t answer requests like that from people like me. He answers them for other people, more radical people, stronger people, more godly people, but not little old normal people like me.
And she just looked at me out of a heart full of wisdom, out of a heart who has prayed and fasted and believed and stood strong more than any other person I know, out of a heart whose prayers for people through the years has availeth much, said, “But Susannah, God has answered your prayers for healing for people.”
And one by one, she listed the situations over the years she knows I have struggled and wrestled and prayed through, the situations and people’s lives she knows I have begged and pleaded and asked God for healing for again…and again…and again…and she said, “I know that maybe God hasn’t healed the way you wanted Him to, and maybe you haven’t seen the miraculous, instantaneous results like you asked Him for, but God has chosen to heal, step-by-step, season-by-season, one day at a time.”
And as she talked, she reminded me that most of the time, that is how we see God choose to heal the hearts around us. Most of the time, He usually doesn’t heal in a flash or in an instant, although He certainly can. And when God does choose to heal that way, it is awesome and incredible and exciting and faith-building.
Bu most of the time, it’s step-by-step, moment-by-moment, situation-by-situation, season-by-season, one day at a time. And He does it that way to keep our hearts completely dependent on Him. She reminded me of how, in her own life, the circumstances that have been the hardest have been the most successful at keeping her completely dependent upon and close to God.
She reminded me that “God knows when to heal in an instant, and He knows when to heal slowly, over time, in the journey, so that our hearts become changed as we fall more deeply in love with Him. But God always heals in response to our prayers; it just looks different sometimes than we think it will or want it to.”
And her words changed everything. They reminded me that it’s not always a result of a lack of faith that God hasn’t healed in an instant every time I have prayed, but it’s a result of His sovereign, steady, unchanging will that knows what healing needs to look like in each and every person’s heart.
And thankfully, it’s not up to me to decide that. It’s up to Him.
A few days ago, I was listening to a song called “Rest in You” by the band Sons and Daughters. The whole song is beautiful, but there is one line that absolutely stopped me in my tracks and has been running through my head every since: “You cannot change, but You change everything.”
God cannot change, but He changes everything. This has become the anthem of my head and heart. We worship and serve a God who cannot change, who has not changed since before the beginning when He created heaven and earth. He is a healer, has always been a healer, and always will be a healer for those who come to Him to ask for healing. He is good, has always been good, and always will be good, and work all things for our good, no matter what seasons in our life ebb and flow.
And while He does not change in His character or goodness or ability to heal, He changes everything. He just does. Because that’s who He is. He changes sorrow to joy; He changes sickness to health; He changes death to life; He changes dirty to clean; He changes hopelessness to hope; He changes anxiety to peace; He changes pointlessness to purpose; and one day, He will change all those who love and long for the Lord Jesus in an instant, to redemptive glory through His unchanging love and grace.
Sometimes He changes things in a moment, but most times, He changes things step-by-step, choice-by-choice, day-by-day, season-by-season. He changes us from the inside out, with hearts made new by His Word, and with wills infused with His courage and the companionship of His Holy Spirit.
If you, like me, have held back on asking God for full and complete healing for a certain friend or a certain circumstance, and if you, like me, have had a hard time believing that God will answer your prayers because of a lack of faith or a lack of greatness or a lack of knowing how to ask, be en-couraged. Meaning, just like me with my mom, have courage poured into you. To keep on praying. To keep on asking. To see that our God is a God who heals because it is who He is, and He is unchanging.
Like me, you just might need to shift your perspective on how He heals. And remember anew that when you pray to a God who is unchanging in His desire and ability to heal, He changes everything. One step at a time.