Past, Present, and Future
Read Acts 12: 6-17 Peter delivered from Prison
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 12: 24 (NRSV)
Bill Kirklin lives in Indiana. When his wife was hospitalized after a stroke, a church group gave her a blanket embroidered with her name and Mark 11:24. When Bill looked up the verse, it gave him hope. Along with his friends and his church, Bill was fervently praying for his wife's complete recovery. When she died seven weeks later, he was grief-stricken. Not only did he lose his wife, but their prayers had not been granted. Bill felt like he had failed. Surely if he had been more faithful, God would have healed his wife.
For years, Bill had wrestled with this verse. The mix of past and future tenses is puzzling. Bill believes prayer changes things, but this passage teaches Bill that our prayers are never just about the future. Praying conforms us to God's will in the present. We are comforted in this transformation by looking to God's faithfulness in the past. Further, like the disciples in Acts 12, sometimes we don't immediately recognize the answer to our prayers.
Bill is still mourning the loss of his wife, but slowly he is beginning to appreciate the profound ways God answers his prayers - ways so amazing that he doesn't always understand them. He has come to accept that God doesn't require his understanding, just his steadfast, faithful confidence in God's love for him.
For those of us who love and believe in Jesus, sometimes God answers prayers, but not the way we want Him to. I believe that God did answer Bill's prayer for his wife's complete recovery. She is completely healed and in the arms of God has no more pain or suffering. There are worse things in this life than death, especially if you know that your future is eternity with Jesus. God is always looking out for our good and what could be better than being with Him in glory.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see the ways you have guided us in the past, and grant us faith to trust our futures to you, no matter what is happening in the present, in Jesus' name. Amen.