I recently heard someone talking about Jesus’ healings. They said something that really stuck with me – that as Christians we should ‘pray for healing, but prepare for a funeral’. We’ve all heard stories of amazing healings, but many of us, have also known big situations where our prayers seem to go unanswered. Whether it’s a friend or family member dying or a situation just not improving, it can be hard to understand why some prayers are answered and others not.
But that phrase, ‘pray for healing, but prepare for a funeral’ helped me see things a bit differently. We know that through Jesus, God’s Kingdom has come. But we also know that he hasn’t returned. We live in the in-between times, the now, but not yet when the promise has been given, but not fully fulfilled. And so, we need to keep praying for the miraculous, but prepare also for the mundane.
The phrase reminded me of many stories from the persecuted church. You could slightly adapt the quote to highlight the attitude of many persecuted Christians: ‘We pray for an end to oppression and intimidation, but prepare for persecution’. Many persecuted Christians know that if they are living out their faith, persecution will follow.
Take this story from Iran – Lily’s* mum was involved in leading a house church. She says:
“We started preparing our daughter Lily* for persecution when she was still in primary school. ‘Don’t worry,’ we told her. ‘The Bible tells us it is normal to be persecuted as believers. They will take us to prison, ask us some questions, and hit us. Then we will come back.’
“It was an early winter morning when the authorities came. Lily was 12 at the time and had already left for school. They searched everything. Then they ordered my husband and me to come with them.
“I insisted that I call my sister before coming with them. How could they let a 12-year-old come home to an empty house – a house she didn’t even have a key to? Reluctantly, they let me call.
“I knew what Lily would do when she was picked up from school by my sister – she would pray for us. And when she was afraid, she would pray more. She would also call a friend in our ministry like we had instructed her to do. This friend had promised to take care of Lily while we were in prison.”
Lily’s parents were released after a few days – but there’s so much in this story. There’s the fact that Lily and her parents knew following Jesus would cost them. Then there’s the fact that they were prepared to endure suffering and being split apart as a family because of Jesus. But ultimately, they were prepared for what was coming. There is a reality that this family faced up to – they prayed for protection, but were prepared for prison.
We should never stop praying against injustice. We should never stop praying for healing. We know God can do the impossible. We know His heart is for life and truth. We know He loves to heal and bring freedom. But we should also be prepared – prepared for times when we need to relent, to yield and let go. As Christians, we should always pray for the miraculous, but prepare for the mundane.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. Psalm 23:5
Read all of Psalm 23…
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