A story about prayer, doubt and God

Almost exactly a week ago 4 of us were told he had cancer. We didn’t know him well, but he told us before his brother, before his family. He told us because he knew we know Jesus and because he wanted us to pray.

We did. Despite the awkwardness of a tiny room off a busy corridor, and brand new relationships, we prayed. We put our sweaty hands on his back and asked God with heavy hearts to heal this man, who is still a boy, and to help him trust God no matter what.

We left sorrowfully. We had learned his name alongside his diagnosis and we remembered both of those things at various points throughout the week. As tonight drew closer, we separately wondered how to explain that sometimes God doesn’t heal, but he is still good. We asked for God’s help to point him to Jesus, even though the cancer remained.

Off to the side in a snatched moment, he asked us which news we wanted first. Then he told us, quietly, that the x-rays got switched, and that he is cancer-free.

We stood in that tiled corridor as people bustled nearby and for as long as I live I can never explain the euphoria of that moment. We quickly had to return, to plates and aprons and soapsuds, but as our feet hit the damp pavement afterward his name was the first on our lips… his and then His. Our God who answers prayer.

Our God who said yes, though we expected no. Our God who received as a fragrant offering feeble words that we struggled all week to believe. Our God who knew before those words were formed how he would act, who saw us huddle, saw us doubt, and then blew us out of the water.

Our God who knows that our friend has a far bigger enemy than the cancer we will never know if he had. An enemy that separates him from Him – his own rejection of his own creator. Our God who came to earth in Jesus, and lived and died and lives for people like our friend – like me and you – to set us right with Himself.

Tonight on cold seats under a grapevine we prayed that God might get the glory. We rejoiced with our friend and we begged for his salvation. And we sleep, but probably not any time soon, ever so thankful for our God who said yes in Jesus, and who delighted us with another yes, today.

“My soul, praise the Lord and all that is within me, praise His holy name. My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2


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