Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A question of faith?

We have some friends who are going through a very hard time right now. They are the most amazing family I know, so full of faith, so generous and overflowing with Christ's love. But, they also are carrying more crosses at the moment than it seems possible to bear. Both the father and youngest daughter are dealing with very serious health issues at this time, and these are just their newest burdens. Some members of our parish are currently coordinating meals, house cleaning, etc., and, of course, prayer for this family in an effort to try to help lighten their load. They sent an email out asking for help and most especially for prayers for this family so they will be blessed with the graces they need to get through this hard time. Another woman in our parish replied to everyone and said that we should do even more. She said that we should "take the leap of faith and pray for total healing". She also said that we should "pray for healing and restoration with confidence that God wants that for them more than we do."

The reason that I am relaying this story to you is because it has reminded me of a question that I have been struggling with for a long time. It is a question of faith and God's will. I don't know what God's will is for this family. I know that He already has done amazing works through them and that their example will probably lead many more souls to Christ in the future.

But, does He desire for them to be physically healed or is He allowing these struggles because they will help the family bear even more fruit in the future? I don't know.

So, in an attempt to be a good faithful Catholic, I am struggling as to what my prayers for them should entail. Do I pray for total healing and trust that God will answer that prayer? Is doing any less showing a lack of faith? Or does it demonstrate more faith in God to let go of trying to control the situation and just pray that God's will be done, regardless of what the outcome might be?

All my life I have watched my father struggle with a myriad of health problems. I prayed for years that he would be healed and it has yet to happen. A couple of months ago I realized that, unintentionally, my prayers had changed over the years from requests for healing to just asking for God to give Dad the strength to joyfully bear his cross. I don't know if this means that I gave up on the hope of healing or if I have just accepted that it seems to be God's will that Dad carries this heavy burden for the good of souls. I do believe in the redemptive power of suffering, but I also believe in miracles.

I would welcome any wisdom or guidance that any of you could share. Do I keep faith in a miracle happening or should I have faith in God's will and just pray that it be done even if it requires great suffering? These are questions that I have been unable to answer on my own. Any thoughts?


Christine said...

We can always pray for healing from the Lord - and He never lets the prayers go unanswered. We may not see what the Lord is healing in the person - whether it is the physical ailment, or the person's heart, mind, soul or other areas of the person's life like expectations or relationships, or even accepting what suffering is coming, so they may offer it up.

Even Jesus asked the Lord to not have to undergo suffering - to "let this cup pass me by" in the garden before his suffering and death on the cross. So we know we may always ask, and put our faith in the Lord - that he will bring all things to good - even if we can't see it at the time, and sometimes it seems like our prayers aren't answered.

There's no such thing as an empty or wasted prayer. God takes them all and places them in His Sacred Heart.

We can also ask with all confidence for total physical healing. It's just like when our kids ask us for something with complete faith that we will give it to them - even if we know that isn't the best thing for them, or we can't give it to them because it's not possiblefor whatever reason. We still listen to them, and respond in the way that is best for them. God knows more fully what we need than human parents do for their children.

Of course if we are open to the Lord in our own hearts - He gently brings us around to where His will is. Your prayers for your father sound like an example of this. (Not saying that your father will never by physically healed by our heavenly Father, but that doesn't appear to be where things are immediately going from what you were saying.)

There are cases of real miraculous phsyical healing (such as at Lourdes), but more often God works healing through the standard human channels of doctors and medicine, therapy and treatments. So we shouldn't ever assume that God will heal whatever the problem is and not worry about the standard means of healing ie stop taking medications.

Sorry, this is so long. I hope that touches on what you were looking for. If I think of any good sources for your questions I'll post again.

Tracy said...

My mom has suffered for 15 years with terrible fibromyalgia but what is amazing is the through all the terrible pain she has, instead of asking "why me Lord?" she says just the opposite"why not me?"
We won't always know on this earth the "why" but it is promised that if we pick up our cross and carry it, we will be rewarded in Heaven. Why does it seem some have such a heavy cross to carry? We just won't know until we get to Heaven.. but.. we can and should Pray for them to that God will give them the Grace to carry their cross and do what we can to help with their burden.

Colleen said...

Thank you for your great response. You know, I've thought about all the points that you made before, but then someone else says something (like the woman I quoted in the email) and I forget it all and get confused again. I've thought a lot about the fact that Christ asked for his cup to pass him by. He also ended his prayer with "your will be done." So, I had decided that whenever I ask God for anything, I would always end it with "your will be done," just as Christ did.

My husband and I were talking about this again this morning and he said that believing that God can to something and that He will do something are two different things. He said I need to have faith that God can heal them if he wants to, but that does not mean that I should expect that He will. God knows better than I do if physical healing is the best thing for this family.

I think that is what bothered me the most about that lady's email. By saying that we should "pray for healing and restoration with confidence that God wants that for them more than we do," it's like she is saying she knows what God's will is for this family and that seems a little presumptuous to me.