Sep 25, 2008


Pam at Gray Like Snuffie is hosting a blog-a-thon: The A B C's of the Word. Bloggers post a Bible verse beginning with the next letter of the alphabet each Thursday. Today's letter is "J".

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. " Matthew 21:21

This is a verse that I have always found to be a little confusing and sometimes even frustrating. I believe in the power of prayer with all of my heart, yet sometimes we desperately pray for something that is not answered the way we have asked God to. An example of this is when I have prayed with deep belief and faith that someone might be healed of an illness or a medical diagnosis not be as serious as it seems likely to be. In a couple of very specific occasions, my prayer was not answered the way I prayed it would be. Does that mean that this verse in Matthew is not true?

Jesus was speaking to the disciples, teaching them that we can pray about anything and that we can have faith that God can work any miracle. Obviously, Jesus was not saying that we will be empowered to move literal mountains magically if we believe we can. I think His reference to mountains is referring to personal mountains in our lives. Sometimes problems seem as enormous and immovable as a mountain. Jesus was telling His disciples and us that we can pray about even the most significant problems with faith that He hears and has the power to solve those problems. But does Matthew 21:21 mean that our faithful prayers will be answered the way we ask?

This is what I believe. Our time on earth is minuscule considering the vastness of eternity. Even though God wants us to experience happiness on earth and He wants us to have a faithful, trusting relationship with Him, God's foremost concern is for our eternal life, not our earthly life. Only God knows what the result of answered prayer will mean to eternity. We see life in such a limited capacity that what we ask for with our human hearts and minds, may not be most effective in God's will for the big, eternal plan. Here's an example from my own prayer life. A very dear friend who happens to be a strong Believer, was in the process of receiving a medical diagnosis which very possible would be serious. I prayed with sincere faith that my friend would not have cancer, believing it within God's power to prevent this. In the end my friend was indeed diagnosed with advanced cancer. Now, I would be lying if I said this did not create disappointment and some questions in my talks with God. However, after a significant amount of time has gone by, some possible reasons God might have had for allowing this diagnosis have come to light. Remember, as Believers our purpose is to serve God in whatever way He directs so that others might see God's love through us and a desire to have a relationship with Him. During the long months of surgery, chemotherapy, and recovery, my friend came into contact with many people she would not have met had she not been diagnosed with cancer. She has been able to demonstrate her faith and comfort to others through God's grace to these folks ONLY because she has cancer. God absolutely was capable of answering my prayer so my friend would not have cancer. But He knew her ability and willingness to serve Him and He knew how that ministry would effect eternity. So in spite of the many prayers for a different diagnosis God chose instead to allow difficult circumstances in my friend's life in order to benefit the big picture, the eternal.

The mountain had been moved, but for His eternal purpose rather than for mere earthly moments.


grey like snuffie said...

Good post. Goes along with my Bible study, Believing God. We can't put God in a box. He is able to heal, yet more often (it seems) He touches the spiritual realm of people involved more than physical healings. He is a mystery. But His Word is Truth. hmmm, takes a lot of pondering then the ability to say, "I don't get it, but I will still praise You."

Liz said...

Thank you for the verse, and the comments. I have had the same ponderings regarding this verse and I love the way you testified to how He has worked it out for you. He is a big God.

Pink Slippers said...

Just a quick praise report. A young Navy Mommy in our church was pregnant and her baby had a hole in her heart and the cord dangerously wrapped around her neck. Not a good situation. Our church, myself and my hubby PRAYED and PRAYED and one week at a doctors ppt. the Dr. said the hole was gone and another appt. the cord came unraveled. God is good and healing or not--you are right--everything is for the good of His purpose. We just might not know what that is. And in the LONG haul and BIG picture that really is OK. Wendy

Sweetie said...

Hi Kathy, I was looking for a verse in my bible but had an emergency so did not have time to write a post for A, B, Cs of the Word. I posted a draft that I had saved instead. Your post is the kind that I read once and then will read it again this evening. I do want to say that I usually don't pray for specific things. I pray for strength to get through difficult times, the strength needed for the adveristy that we have in our lives, and for a stronger faith.

Technonana said...

In these times of trial, it so hard to wait, to understand... we just have to trust, that sounds like an easy answer, but I KNOW that it isn't. But we know that whatever happens that God is in control... there is always much more going on around us than we can see with our eyes..

Cori G. said...

Hi Kathy,
What a wonderful post. It is true, God can do anything He chooses and sometimes it seems strange the way He works. I just keep telling myself that my job is to be obedient. This is often hard for me. The Lord places His children where they need to be.
I was so touched by this post.
God bless,