… You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
–James 4:2-3 NASB
I will be the first to admit that this passage in Scripture troubles me. There are verses in Scripture tthat tell us to ask and if we don’t, we don’t get. Even here, it says that if we didn’t get, it is because we didn’t ask. But, it is also wrong to ask with selfish motives. This is what troubles me? What do I ask for?
I have seen Joelle suffer with cancer for well over a year. I also see that her battle with cancer looks like a losing battle. At least, it does to my eyes, as I hear almost every month that the disease has invaded new areas of her body, causing excruciating pain, and it is ever so difficult and emotionally painful to see someone as beautiful as Joelle having to go through all of this suffering. And when I say beautiful, I am talking about her inner beauty which far outshines her out beauty, and she is beautiful on the outside. During her suffering, I have not only seen her witness the saving grace of Jesus, but I have seen her, in all her pain, lead people to Jesus to be saved. Talk about an amazing person that Joelle is. I have so much trouble doing stuff like that in a somewhat healthy state, but it almost looks effortless to my eyes that Joelle can do this, despite all of the pain and suffering that she is going through.
It totally makes me wonder what is wrong with me? With everything in my life that has led to my encounter with Christ, including all of the signposts and my Road to Damascus encounter up to today’s witnessing of God’s grace through Joelle’s pain and suffering, have I not yet gotten the message? Am I begging for Jesus to rescue me, when even throughout Joelle’s suffering, He has rescued her? Am I not believing that I am also being rescued? Or have I somehow locked Jesus out of my heart because of everything that I have done leading up to this, and I am desperately trying to pull Jesus into my heart through the keyhole of a locked door? I could ask if I let my heart become stone towards God over this, but if that were the case, would I be trying so desperately to seek Jesus? So, it can’t be that. There’s no doubt in my mind that I want Jesus in my life. And, only a fool in his heart believes that there is no God. I am not that fool. With everything that I have seen in all of my living years, there is absolutely no doubt that God exists.
So once again, that leads me to the question of what do I ask God for? It’s hard to know what to ask for because I don’t know if what I am asking for is for my own selfish gain or is glorifying God. I know very well that God is not some spiritually cosmic vending machine. There is no name it and claim it gospel. Just asking God to heal Joelle from cancer is a loaded request in itself. Am I asking this for the glory of God? Or, am I asking because I hate seeing her suffer, which I really do? While the latter reason sounds somewhat noble, it is also selfish. Yes, I hurt watching her go through all of this. It feels like my heart is torn into pieces. Honestly, I could not recall a time when I have been so upset. But, could it be possible that I am asking God to end my suffering instead of Joelle’s. Am I thinking of her or am I just thinking about myself? Like I said, Joelle has doing God’s wonderful work out of her suffering and what have I ever done? I’m starting to think that everything that I ever did up until now has been for myself. How much of God’s work has come from my own torment? So, am I asking God for His own sake, Joelle’s, or my own? I really have to search my heart on this one to know what I am asking for.
It pretty much leaves me wondering what to ask for. I have hope as described in Romans 5:3-5 and Romans 8:28, but sometimes knowing what I should be hoping for is elusive. I have faith in God and I know in my heart that Jesus does love me. I also believe that God does work miracles, but as I said before, God is not a vending machine. His miracles are for His glory and not for our satisfaction. Perhaps some wisdom, encouragement, along with some strength could be a start.