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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Agony of Defeat

This session of the conference was titled, “The Agony of Defeat.”  The speaker talked about praying for God to heal people.  Most of the time we hear the miracle stories, but this time he only told stories of when God didn’t heal.  He didn’t offer platitudes or try to explain away the irony.  He simply said Christ says we must take up our cross daily and follow him.  This speaker believes that the cross we must carry if we are willing to pray in faith for people to be healed is the pain and disappointment that comes inevitably when some are not healed.  

Many of the stories he told were of children who continued to suffer or even die after receiving prayer for healing.  In every story I was the parent.   Because I am that parent.  I had believed for a solid hour with all my heart after the accident that God would raise Makiah from the dead, if she was indeed dead.  I just knew all the healing stories I had read were in me for faith for that moment and that I was going to see a miracle.   But I am that parent who didn’t see the miracle.  Instead I was handed the agony of defeat.  It’s not too often that I have heard people talk about what I and many others have lived.

As I sat in that chair near the back of the crowded auditorium, I felt as if my insides were quaking, and I know my lips trembled as I tried with all my might to hold back the torrents.  I am not sure if the sweet lady next to me could see through my facade or if she was trembling inside from her own pain, but when she reached over and took my hand I couldn’t restrain the flood any longer.  Hot tears poured silently down my cheeks as I bit my quivering lip.

This was the hardest teaching I have sat through, but it helped me.  Victory is so sweet,  but until Jesus returns we must be willing to bear the cross of disappointment that will inevitably rear its head as we strive to live like Him, pointing to salvation and praying for God to intervene with healing and miracles.   And we must be willing to embrace mystery.  We cannot fully understand why some are healed and others are not.  There are principles of course, but there is also overarching Grace.  God’s Grace that gives healings in circumstances when none of the principles are in place.  And God’s Grace that sustains us when the healing doesn’t come at all.

A few weeks before, my hubby and I sat in the Georgia Dome surrounded by thousands of young people at WinterJam.  The sounds and lights were amazing as Newsong, a group born in my childhood, took the stage to perform their signature song, Arise My Love.  The words rang out with deafening power:

Arise, My Love
Arise, My Love
The grave no longer has a hold on You
No more death's sting
No more suffering
Arise, arise

The words are from Father God to Jesus after he has died for our sins.  I can’t count how many times I have heard this song.  But this time was different.  As I stood there in the crowds, all I could see was a beautiful little blonde haired girl in a light pink smocked dress.  Lying still as death in that tiny white coffin.  And I could hear the words of Jesus when he returns to resurrect those who believe, “Arise, My Love!”  And the sting has been taken out of death and hell has been defeated because the grave the could not hold the King!  And it will not hold us!  And it will not hold my Makiah!  I looked back at Cameron, and I knew from the tears streaming from his red eyes that he saw the same thing in his heart.

And even now when I close my eyes I can picture the glorious light streaming forth from Jesus broken body as he was being resurrected.  Light and power that pierced and shattered the grave clothes that had bound Him.  And that same powerful resurrecting life is available for us and the grave clothes of fear or sin or disappointment or of our painful pasts are vaporized by the love of God.  And we can live free!  Even now!

But God raised him (Jesus) from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  

Romans 8:11

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in you.