Jan 18, 2011

Why Did We Anoint My Husband (Again?)

This week in church, we were reminded of our need to pray expectantly, not because of the power of the person praying, but because we are asking things of a great God. At the end of the message, Ian received prayer and was anointed by our pastor.

And this is all an appropriate response to sickness, according to the Bible, particularly James 5. It's just that we've done it so many times. And Ian is still severely disabled. He has been anointed by various pastors within our family of churches but he still has not been healed as we have asked. Steve was anointed, and prayed over, and he still died. Our good friend Beth has been anointed multiple times and has still suffered migraines for ten years.

So why do we keep anointing Ian and praying for healing? Why, even when I feel completely deflated, tired of asking the same thing, sick of standing at the front of the church for prayer and all too aware that Steve is gone which means it didn't "work," do we keep going forward?

I don't know. My flesh doesn't want to. My sinful nature doesn't believe that God can do it. Because it hasn't happened yet. And because my flesh is not long suffering.

But if I let go entirely of even the tiny grasp that I have on the truth that God can heal Ian, then I am disregarding who God is. God is able, but not required, to heal Ian. And it scares me to think that he won't, because I don't know what that means. I can't figure out a God who doesn't heal.

But as Steve often told me, even if God doesn't heal Ian, He is still good. He will always be good. Even if my flesh can't understand continued disability and sickness. And we can't let ourselves forget that He is good and He is merciful. And that is why we still pray. And anoint. Because regardless of how I feel, the Bible tells me that God is able. So when I drag my feet toward expectant prayer and wrestle to believe in its effect, I am still praying to a good God. When my faith feels like a tiny thread, God has a stronghold on my life. When I offer up the weakest prayers, because of Jesus they are still beautiful and acceptable to God.

Thank you for your expectant prayers for four years.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this struggle, Larissa. It is so easy to relate to your doubts ... we are all in the same boat, even if we don't have the same circumstances. The boat being our fallen nature, I mean ... and the serpent still is asking us, all these thousands of years later, if we believe God truly is good. Walking by faith means saying "yes" over and over, even in the stark face of deflating, deafening trials. I will pray for your strength and faith... I need them, too. Persevere. Keep pressing on. We will receive what He has promised.
Love in Christ,
Sara B.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honesty, Larissa, about your struggles. And the end of it all though is still a good God who understands His sweet daughter's struggles and does not condeme you for them. You are precious to Him and regardless of how you may feel at the moment, you are still coming to Him which is honoring and glorifying to Him. May He answer soon for His glory and for your good.

Sarah said...

Larissa, I just want you to know that I am still praying for Ian and you, and your family & friends.
Thank you for your faithful perseverance and example.
Sarah Sensenig (Crossway Church in Lancaster)

Anonymous said...

Larissa, What a beautiful post...thanks so much for helping so many people. God will surely bless you and Ian and we will all continue to pray to a loving God.

beth said...

you are my hero.

Anonymous said...

I am greatly encouraged to keep hearing the truth about God---I need constant reminders, and this post is a wonderful reminder of His goodness. We will keep praying for Ian---and many other faith challenges. Thanks you for posting.

Stephen Altrogge said...

Larissa I just want to encourage you for your faith. God is so honored that you trust him, even when you can't figure him out. Your faith is a pleasing incense to God. So pleasing to him.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how we can only comprehend maybe .001% of what God is really doing. Keep your head up, Consider reading Job, if you have not done so already. God allows Trials to come our way to show us our heart and draw us near. No matter how long the struggle or Big the loss, the reward is always greater! Keep reminding yourself of the many blessings he HAS given you: The Knowledge of Knowing our Creator.

Praying for Strength in whatever the Lord's Will is.

Anonymous said...

Larissa-Thank you for sharing from your heart. You and Ian are walking a very difficult road together and my heart aches for you both. I will continue to pray for the Lord's will to be done and for you both to have peace and joy in Christ, regardless of what that may look like.
Heavy heart for you tonight dear young new bride-
Wendy in MD

Sonya said...

Hi Larissa - You don't know me and I just happened across your blog. I was moved to write after this post because what you expressed are feelings that I have often had and I think many people have. You expressed them so beautifully. Like another commenter said, you are my hero - even though I don't know you personally! Thank you for sharing. I know you often wonder why God allows things to happen (we all do!), and maybe a tiny part of the reason is to be an inspiration to many people - many, many that you don't know who don't write in but are nevertheless touched by your story.

Anonymous said...

Larissa your struggle is universal but with your honesty you communicate it so personally well. All that I can offer is to please remember that judging good or bad (health or disease or anything else) are human traits that have been with us since Genesis. It could very well be in God's eye's judging these circumstances are completely different.

What occurred to the both of you is a tragedy in human terms...no doubt about it...it was not good and can never be good. Living in a natural world with the free will given by our Creator things happen that in human terms are considered bad. In divine terms though the human concept of "bad" is really unknown. Just as only life is known, not death since it was Jesus who conquer death by eternal life. This is why God is always and will always do what is good, it is his only nature.

Keep praying, but God knows your heart and your needs even before we speak them. As the parable of the woman who constantly asked the judge for mercy and was finally granted, He who is greater than this human judge does not have to be constantly reminded.

I truly believe that what God only wants from us is trust and faith in him and his ways, of which you have greater than your human doubt.

God will bless

Minori Family

Blossoming Branches said...

you're amazing
keep strong in Christ

Joel said...

Larissa - I admit to checking in on this blog every few months. I think I only met Ian once or twice while I was attending IUP back in 2003, but when I heard about his accident I've always checked in to see his progress.

Now I'm not a religious man...far from it actually. But that doesn't mean I can't sympathize with your everyday struggle on a human level. Your dedication to Ian is inspiring and courageous. Your faith in him (and in God) do seem to get you through each challenging day and give you hope. I truly respect that.

For all the questions out there in the universe, and there will continue to be questions, believe me...know that one thing is certain in your life. Love.

Keep Fighting,


Leslie Dawn Neagle said...

Psalm 23:5-6
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Love In Christ~Leslie Dawn Neagle

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian and Larissa -
I'm praying for you, and am so moved by your faith. I just listened to a sermon by one of the ministers who inspires me most - it's entitled "Keep Asking" and if you're interested, you can find the podcast here: http://www.capitalchurch.com/Archives/InsideOut.html

I am a breast cancer survivor, and when through chemo a week after my wedding. There were lots of dark days, but when I look back, I realize those were some of the days I felt closest to my husband, and closest to God. Doesn't make it any easier at the time though, does it? =) Keep praying - I will too.

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago, I found your video on desiringgod.org and since then, I've been catching up on your blog, starting with the very first post in October 2006. (I was so saddened by Steve's death--and I only knew him through his posts on this blog!)

I have been encouraged and inspired by many posts, but this one finally prompted an actual comment. For many years I have struggled to pray expectantly for physical healing since my dear friend's mother died of lung cancer after a year of fervent, expectant prayers. I watched my friend struggle with guilt at her mother's funeral as she wondered aloud whether her mom would still be alive on earth if she had spent more time praying and less time studying (my friend was in college at the time). I watched this family fall apart in many ways since her death as the mom was the spiritual hub and emotional anchor for my friend, her sisters and her father. And the question, "What was your purpose in letting her die--what is the good that you are working out for these people who believed?" is really the only question I personally long to ask God face to face. So in the intervening years, I have failed to find motivation to pray for physical healing with anything more than a "can't hurt, might help" attitude.

Thank you for this post that has helped me to see that the main purpose in prayer requests (not just in praises) is to focus on and magnify who GOD IS in our hearts and minds, and that this purpose is accomplished in our prayers regardless of how they are answered.

Praying for you (more expectantly than ever!)--