I’ve prayed for the gift of healing for a long time now. I’ve asked for the supernatural ability to lay my hands on someone, requesting that the Lord intervene in their body, hoping to watch a miracle unfold, to see surprise and joy and freedom blossom in a moment. I’ll admit that this prayer may partially be motivated by vanity. People can resist prophecy, but who can deny a body miraculously restored to wholeness? How many people would come to faith after an event like that? Also? I love to tell a good story.

I’ve asked for this countless times in my life, believing that maybe it could be mine. Afterall, I’ve been on the receiving end of this spiritual gift. I’ve had chronic kidney stones since I was a teenager, passing more than 30 one summer alone. I was in staff prayer at my old church one day and someone from the board, a man I don’t actually respect felt like the Spirit was leading him to pray for someone’s kidneys. I resisted responding for all the same reasons that you would. But one of my pastors got up from his seat, grabbed me by the arm and walked with me to have a man I didn’t like lay hands on me pretty much where my future love handles would be. Everything about it awkward and undignified.

I passed a kidney stone less than an hour later, completely free from the debilitating pain that had so far, always preceded that sort of event. It seems that God uses these people to teach us lessons that we don’t always want to learn.

I ask the Lord of creation for the power command the supernatural, but it isn’t only due to my vanity. I see so many people live through infertility, cancer, addiction, depression or often enough, a combination of these and other diagnoses and I just want to fix the situation. I want to make them better. I long to see them smile and experience relief from their afflictions.

So far, this is a prayer that God hasn’t answered. That is not an indictment against him, as he has been immensely faithful to answer many of my prayers for almost 18 years now. This just isn’t one of them. I guess maybe it’s not my calling or my story. Instead, the story so far is about sitting in dark places with people knowing that I am completely unable to change their situation. It’s understanding that I can’t fix a thing for them. I’d feel altogether powerless except I know that my presence is made holy by the God who dwells within me and that does something in these moments of powerlessness. It isn’t what I asked for, but it’s what I have been given.

I would guess the same is true for plenty of us. We don’t get to declare miracles, (I feel the need to again state that I believe in divine intervention) but instead, we get to stand in difficult places, declaring our love and commitment to people in the midst of their trouble. In some ironic way, that’s almost more beautiful. Because we can walk away from a miracle. They’re better now. What else do they need? Instead, we generally have to stick with those who are experiencing ongoing pain and suffering.