When You Don’t Get the Miracle You Wanted
Inside: You prayed and bargained and pleaded, but the person wasn’t healed, the heart was not changed. What does it mean when you don’t get the miracle you wanted?
I remember attending a dinner party with Arman (not his real name). Arman had emigrated from Iran in the 1970s and had come to know the Lord through a mutual friend. He was in his fifties, and I remember him describing how much he was enjoying that stage of life: His children were getting older, his job was satisfying, and everything about his life seemed settled.
So it was unexpected and unsettling when Arman was diagnosed with leukemia. Treatment started immediately and the journey seemed terribly long, with countless continuous days spent in the hospital. For weeks, our congregation prayed fervently for his healing.
Things seemed to be turning for the better, and we were all rejoicing at the good news, when Arman received a transfusion of tainted blood. His body couldn’t fight the infection, and despite dozens of people praying for his healing, Arman died rather suddenly.
I was stunned. How had God let Arman receive tainted blood? More to the point: Why? I still don’t know the answer.
Is this your story, too?
Have you asked God for a miracle of healing or a change in a person’s heart, and the miracle has not occurred? Is it, in fact, very clear, either through death or some other circumstance, that the miracle is not going to happen?
In the book of Daniel, we learn about three Jewish men who had been taken into captivity in Babylon. Their reputations have endured long after their earthly lives. I can’t wait to talk with them in heaven.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego experienced one of the most amazing miracles ever recorded. They were bound and thrown into a furnace of fire so hot that the flames killed the men who threw them into the furnace. The three Jewish men survived. God rescued them, and the king saw four men walking around in the furnace. Unbound. Not burned. (See the Extra Info about the fourth being in the furnace.)
But it is what these three young men said before being thrown into the furnace that has grabbed my heart and taken me to depths of faith. Paraphrased:
God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. But if He does not, we still will not bow down and worship the idol you have set up.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God could rescue them in some miraculous way. But they also knew that God could choose not to do so, and they could die in the flames.
Either way, they would not sacrifice their faith for the sake of temporary benefit, as horrific as the punishment would be.
Let’s consider three truths that help us untangle the raw reality that we sometimes do not receive the miracle we wanted:
1. God is sovereign. God knows all things and can do all things, and that’s a good part of what makes Him God. As much as I want Him to do this or that, I am not sovereign; He is.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5 ESV)
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
Jesus healed many people during His earthly ministry, but He didn’t heal everyone. Consider that the Pool of Bethesda was surrounded by a multitude of people vainly wishing for healing from its waters, but only one man by the pool was healed by Jesus (John 5).
2. God sees a bigger picture than we do. You know that feeling when you understand in hindsight how everything fit together? That is something God never feels, because He already knows how it all fits.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
3. We live in a fallen world, with broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken emotions. Sin takes its toll and affects every moment of every day. Eventually, every one of us will experience an earthly death; eventually, this side of heaven, we will not be healed. Thanks be to God that heaven is a real place populated with fully healed, redeemed people of God.
But this side of heaven? We pray for God’s merciful miracles and His grace to sustain us when in His sovereignty, the miracle we wanted is not to be.
Allow me to address one other point: It is possible that you have given up praying for a miracle that is yet to occur. I have done this countless times. The person is still living, the situation is ongoing. But we lose hope in prayer. I plead with you to persevere! Return to praying for the miracle, and let God show you new ways to pray. Don’t give up! God could be on the verge of answering with a mind-boggling miracle.
I encourage you to read about the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. And then there’s this:
pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV)
That’s short and to the point, isn’t it?
What miracle did you expect and not receive?
What prayer have you given up on that you would like to renew?
Digging into God’s Word: When You Don’t Get the Miracle
I encourage you to read all of Daniel chapter 3. You won’t be bored by it! Verses 13 to 18 are printed for you below.
Daniel 3:13-18 (ESV)
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” [emphasis mine]
Digging Deeper: When You Don’t Get the Miracle
Enjoy this quiet time, just you and God. Reflect on or journal about the following questions, listening for what God has to say to you.
1. Talk with God about the miracle you expected and not receive. Pour out your heart to Him and ask Him to give you understanding and eyes to see His will.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3 ESV)
2. How does what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said before being thrown into the fiery furnace affect your response to not getting the miracle you wanted? As a refresher, they basically said (paraphrased), “God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. But if He does not, we still will not bow down and worship the idol you have set up.”
3. Help others know that God is still at work today! If you have experienced a miracle, share as much as you’re comfortable in the conversation below, or on the Digging Deeper with God Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DiggingDeeperwithGod. (Look for the post with the graphic “Have You Seen a Miracle?”)
4. If you enjoy artistic Bible journaling, choose a verse or concept from today’s passage to focus on, perhaps the men standing firm in their faith with King Nebuchadnezzar or four people milling about the fiery furnace.
5. Worship with these songs as you reflect on God’s sovereignty. Choose one or all of the songs to listen to, or come back to these songs throughout the week.
I Will Trust in You (Lauren Daigle)
Praise You in this Storm (Casting Crowns)
Frontiers (Lead Me to the End of Myself; Vertical Church Band)
In Daniel 3:25, who was the fourth person who appeared with the three men in the fiery furnace?
The description of the fourth figure can be translated different ways:
- “like a son of the gods” (ESV, NIV, NASB)
- “like the Son of God” (KJV, NKJV)
- “like to A son of God” (the Vulgate)
An early interpretation, and one that still prevails, is that this was Christ Himself, appearing on earth before His incarnation, similar to other times He appeared in the Old Testament. An obvious other interpretation is that this was an angel, sent from God to rescue the three men in the furnace. This was Nebuchadnezzar’s interpretation (see verse 28), although remember that he was a pagan king, with little understanding of the Triune God.