From Neverland to Whateverland
She is speaking to me on the phone right now. I need to ask her, but I don’t know how. I haven’t talked to her about her cancer, so how do I bring it up? How do I bring up such a heavy subject she may not want to speak about? I’ll just do it.
“Someone told me you got a bad diagnosis from the doctor and I just wanted to ask you how you’re doing. Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked. I will skip some of the details, but you have to hear what she told me!
“Well, Sharie, you’re not going to believe it. I went through three processes of testing- things they don’t do to a person unless they are 99% sure you have cancer. After the last test, where they collected samples from a mini-robot, they told me I needed to bring someone with me to hear the results because two sets of ears were better than one. I knew this was going to be bad news. My kids are adults, but they’ve already lost their father, so I was angry at God. All that went through my mind for three weeks was, ‘Why would you do this again to my children, Lord?’ I was so angry that I never thought of praying for a miracle. But before my last appointment I visited a family, and the couple along with their four boys all laid hands one me and prayed for healing. I left their house, having never felt so much faith in a prayer. The next day the doctor's office called and they couldn’t explain the absence of cancer in my body, other than it being a miracle. I will never do that again. I will never again foster anger in my heart instead of asking for whatever miracle God might have in mind." Her words floored me.
All I could think was, “Wow!” and “Praise the Lord!”
When I was young, I thought life was like a puzzle. In the beginning, the pieces seem disconnected and confusing, but eventually they piece together to make sense. However, I’ve changed my mind. The more I live, the more confusing life gets. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God answer some prayers, but not others? When is it okay to hope, and when should we lower our expectations so we're not devastated by disappointment?
Has life disappointed you? I’ve had my fair share of disappointments in life, and my coping mechanism was to just stop expecting good things to happen. It was easier to live in "Neverland." Neverland is a place where I expected bad things to happen so that if something good ever happened, I could be pleasantly surprised. I protected my heart by not hoping too much, by knowing God was good, but that His goodness may or may not come my way. I watched others receive His gifts, but I was afraid to ask or expect because I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to be rejected, and so it felt easier not to ask.
Jesus’ ways can sometimes seem disappointing and confusing. He confused John the Baptist. Think about it; John gave up a normal life, lived in the desert eating locust and honey, baptized people to pave the way for Jesus’ kingdom, but when he was in prison Jesus didn’t come to his aid. Instead, Jesus “takes” some of John’s converts, “takes” John’s platform, and all the while lets John suffer behind bars in the process.
But I’m proud of John. At least he had enough guts to send his disciples to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:19). In other words, “You’re not doing what I thought you would do. My faith is failing. Are you who I thought you were?”
To be honest, I might have gotten bitter and angry with Jesus to the point of giving up. I probably have done what my friend did when she found out she had cancer; been so consumed with anger at the situation that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for a miracle. But John was not willing to let his faith die. And by simply asking, Jesus gave him his answer, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Luke 7:22-23)
Jesus is saying, “The prison you are in is keeping you from seeing what God is doing through me John, but the Lord is moving and the Kingdom is coming. All of your hard work is now bearing fruit. You’re expecting me to rescue you, but God has other plans. Don’t lose your faith because your expectations aren’t being met."
All of us will experience disappointment. Sometimes God will answer our prayers through unexplainable miracles and other times we will trudge through our situation. Whatever our path, we have the choice to live in a Neverland of pessimism, or to choose "Whateverland."
"Whateverland is a place of peace. Whateverland is the place where God teaches us that goodness doesn’t always come in the form of pleasure or escape, but eternal life-change and satisfaction in Him. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, NOT LACKING ANYTHING."
God doesn’t want you to LACK ANYTHING. Sometimes that means He will teach you to have more faith in what you ask for, like my friend who received healing. Other times, it will mean He says no, like he did to John the Baptist. Whateverland is the place where we keep our faith in whatever outcome He chooses; whether it be supernatural miracle or self-displined refinement. Whatever comes our way, we know He will give us the grace we need. Both avenues remove the pessimism of Neverland and lead us by faith into Whateverland.
© 2016 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.