Words of Strength

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Passed By?
By Kristi Bothur © 2011

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. Acts 3:6-7

Have you ever felt like God just wasn’t hearing your prayers? Sometimes when a need is particularly near to our hearts, and our prayers have gone unanswered for months, or years, it is easy to wonder if God is listening. If he were, wouldn’t he answer? Or at least give you some indication of how long the wait would be?

I have felt this way many times – when I was younger and prayed for God to give me a husband…later for the health of a friend…for the salvation of a loved one…to conceive a child. So often, I have thought, if I could only talk with Jesus face to face, as people did when he walked this earth. Surely he wouldn’t turn away.

But did you ever stop and think about the fact that Jesus didn’t heal everyone who needed healing during his lifetime? In fact, he didn’t even heal everyone who came across his path. The lame man in Acts 3, for example – Luke tells us that he had been lame from birth and was carried everyday to the Temple gate called Beautiful so he could beg. He chose that place for a very practical reason – it was near the treasury, where people would go to give to support the Temple work. Wealthy people would pass by, many on their way to give an offering – and they would probably drop some coins in his hand, too.

Jesus, of course, visited the Temple many times in his years of ministry. On at least one occasion, he was hanging out in this very area watching people bring their offerings, when he commended a poor widow for giving more than all of the wealthy people, for she gave all she had (Luke 21:1-4).

So Jesus probably passed by this man more than once. I wonder, did the beggar ever ask Jesus for money? Or to heal him? Did Jesus ever stop to speak with him? Did their eyes ever lock across the crowd, each with their own unspoken thoughts?

Jesus, why are you healing others, but not me? Why are you passing me by?

My son, trust me. Wait.

And he waited, coming every day to beg. We are told in Acts that the man had faith in the name of Jesus. When did that begin? Perhaps God used those years of begging in the Temple to fuel his interest in this prophet from Galilee. Maybe he was there the morning after Jesus’ trials, or the day of His resurrection, hearing the rumors about the empty tomb. And then, months later, he was there when Peter and John came through the gate and gave him more than he asked for. Healing. A new community of friends. And the knowledge that the Lord had used him and his years of suffering (more than forty!) to make a significant difference in the kingdom of God.

If you feel that God has ignored your requests and given others the blessings you have begged for, be encouraged by the lame man by the gate Beautiful. I’m certain Jesus saw this man and knew his suffering. Maybe it even pained him not to heal him at that moment. But God had another plan, one that would bring the man the most good and himself the most glory.

In the same way, God knows and sees you. He does not take pleasure in our suffering, but if we allow Him to, He can use it for good – to conform us more to His image, and to impact others and grow His kingdom. We may not receive what we have asked for in our preferred timing – and some of us may not ever, this side of heaven – but that does not negate his love or his wisdom, or his ability to use you in your life circumstances. Wait on God. Trust god. And watch him bring glory to Jesus through you.

Father, I see you answering the prayers of others, and I can’t understand why you are blessing them and not me. Please use this time to grow my faith in you. Help me to wait and trust, and use me to bring you glory. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of four—one on earth and three in heaven.  She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or shortly after birth, and she has a passion for sharing the truths of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life.  She and her husband are beginning a ministry called "Naomi's Circle" for parents of babies in heaven, and she blogs regularly at www.naomiscircle.blogspot.com.  You are welcome to contact her at naomiscircle@gmail.com.  Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and daughter.

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