After praying for our son to be healed from life-threatening food allergies for 6 years, God answered our prayer in a different way than we hoped. What do we do now?
Last Wednesday, our son had an allergic reaction to peanut butter. Peanut butter we gave him, knowing he may have a reaction.
Let’s backup a bit. Our son was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy shortly after turning one. We quickly became Epi-Pen carrying, label-reading, question-asking protectors of our son.
All along, we went to God in prayer for our son’s protection. Our prayers for healing from all food allergies are said with expectant hope.
Over the past two years, his tree nut blood test results increased but peanut results steadily decreased.
This year, both blood and skin tests were clearly negative for peanut allergy. We hoped our prayer had been answered.
Our allergist recommended an oral food allergy challenge. While we agreed with the recommendation, this decision was not made lightly. Consenting to allow our child, who we have protected from peanuts for 6 years, to EAT peanuts is a scary thing. We also knew our son did not fully understand what a reaction could feel like or how dangerous and scary it could be.
We requested prayer. One day I’ll share specifics about how so many of those specific prayers were answered.
Then, last week, we went to the hospital and watched our child eat peanut butter for the first time. Between the third and fourth dose of peanut butter, he began to react. The details of the reaction aren’t what I am writing about today.
Here’s what you need to know: Our son had an allergic reaction to peanuts. He is doing well and has recovered fully. We received great care and have a plan moving forward to keep him safe.
Now, let’s get back to what I do want to talk about today. Our son still has a peanut allergy and this is not the answer we hoped our prayers would receive.
We are disappointed. I’ve had some deeply emotional moments with loved ones and before God this past week. It hurts to fully hope for something and not receive it. We hoped to celebrate his healing.
The thought that our son will still be carrying this allergy and the possibility of serious injury or death if we make just ONE mistake, hurts. Knowing he sometimes he feels excluded or left out because of what he can and cannot eat, hurts too.
It breaks my mama-heart that I cannot fix this.
What have you been praying for? Are you in a place of discouragement over an unanswered prayer? Or maybe over one that was answered in a different way than you hoped?
When our prayers are answered in a different way than we asked and we’re feeling broken – what do we do next?
When you’ve prayed for a long time (in our case, for 6 years) it is OK to grieve when the answer isn’t what you asked for. If you’ve prayed that long, of course it is something that is dear to your heart and likely for a loved one. For us, we love our son and want him to be free from this burden.
One way to express grief in times like this is to lament. In Psalms, God has given us many examples of lament. It is OK to tell Him what we feel – He already knows our thoughts and won’t turn us away.
I’ve spent some time this week in prayer, pouring out my heart to God – the disappointment and sadness, and how scary it was to watch our son’s reaction. It feels strange – but pretending I don’t feel these things makes my prayers fake and prevents me from feeling His comfort and peace. There is peace in finally letting those emotions out. Emotions give insight into our hearts and as we give them to God, He gives us a bigger perspective of our situation.
Grieving is important. Don’t stuff it. God calls us to come to Him and He promises comfort. Bring your burden and grief to Him. He’s waiting.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Claiming God’s Promises
Lament isn’t just telling God how we feel – it also involves reminding ourselves of who God says He is in His Word, and what He promises to do. As we claim His promises, we acknowledge His character and sovereignty, and surrender to His will.
By being honest about my emotions with God, He began to show me a new perspective of our situation based on His promises – not the way I feel.
Thi isn’t the answer we hoped for – but we aren’t without hope.
On the surface, it appears God said NO to our prayer to heal our son. But that is not an accurate answer. What God did say is ‘Not yet.’
God’s Grace is Enough
The Bible is clear that God is ABLE to heal. There are many accounts of Jesus healing people throughout the gospels. But even Paul, who was a profoundly effective, faithful servant of God, had a ‘thorn in his flesh’ (2 Cor 12:7) that God did not heal during Paul’s life on earth.
God responded to Paul’s prayer for healing with a promise:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9
Although God is ABLE, He does not heal everything we ask Him to. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8-9). God does promise that in every weakness, His grace is enough. And He promises the power of Christ in those weaknesses.
God Offers Comfort
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort
-2 Corinthians 1:3
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
God doesn’t leave us to struggle on our own – He promises comfort and His presence. When our prayer feels unanswered, or we can’t make sense of the answer, Jesus is the God of all comfort. Knowing He has known sorrow, betrayal and loss makes Him more approachable.
Suffering Has Purpose and Hope Is Not Put To Shame
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
God promises that our suffering, whatever it may be, will not be in vain. Furthermore, He will use it to make us more like Him, giving us hope while pouring out His love upon us.
I do not know if our son will be healed of food allergies while on earth. Romans 5 reminded me that continuing to pray and hope will not be put to shame – because God IS ABLE. I will not stop asking God to heal our son just because God hasn’t done it yet.
God Is Working
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
God promises that He will work in all situations for our good and for God’s glory. We have already seen God’s faithfulness in this area – good has already come from these allergies, even though our prayer for healing has not been granted.
Promise of Heaven
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Finally, God promises that ALL will be healed in heaven. I trust God with our son’s heart and have full confidence our son will see heaven. I also have full confidence that our son WILL be healed of all food allergies in heaven.
This morning I woke up needing to hear all of these things, even though God has been showing them to me all week. I needed to be reminded of His love and to have my soul lifted up.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Can I let you in on a secret? This post isn’t actually for all of you. It’s for me. Sometimes we need to be reminded of truths God shows us and to speak them into our own lives. God is who He says He is. His promises are still true, even when He does not answer my prayers in the way I want Him to, when I want Him to.
Which of these promises do YOU need to claim in your current circumstances?
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