Posted by: everynation | April 24, 2007

Even if He does not …

 by Ariel Marquez

ariel.jpg

Prayer. A topic that can be very elusive or misunderstood many times. Many people think that prayer is just a method of letting God know your thoughts or more importantly your requests. I’m not claiming that I know everything there is about prayer. But i know that it is a means of communicating with God. You talk to Him and He speaks to you in return. Is it really that simple? Maybe or maybe not. There are so many verses in the bible that talk about prayer. And many of them are promises of God’s answer, miracles and breakthroughs.

Matt. 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

James 5:16b The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

If one does not receive a positive answer to his prayer, is it because of a lack of faith? Is the method of prayer wrong? Is it a judgment from God? Did it just fall on deaf ears?

jerome2.jpg One of the most difficult moments in my life was when my son Jerome was diagnosed (in November 2003) with a disease called tuberculosis meningitis – which affected his brain. This bubbly and energetic eight year old boy who was always the life of the party was suddenly disabled by this debilitating disease. This required him to go through five surgeries in a span of two months. My family and I and the whole church tried to muster all the faith that we had to see a miraculous healing come to pass. We had continuous prayer meetings. Organized a 40 day fasting chain. We laid hands on him. Prophesied long life on him. But instead of him getting better, his situation got worse. After two weeks of being sick with high fever and sharp headaches, he suffered a half body paralysis. My little athlete who used to play tennis and baseball suddenly could not move the left side of his body. At this time, the team of doctors still could not identify what was wrong with him because all the blood tests indicated negative results for dengge, typhoid and other fever causing diseases.

Negative news came when a large mass was found on top of his heart that was as big as a fist. The doctors thought that this was the cause of the fever. This required that a biopsy be done. The result was benign. We had a sigh of relief and started rejoicing. But his condition did not get better and instead continued to get worse.

jerome-in-hospital.jpgIt was at this point that one of the doctors suggested doing a spinal tap – a procedure that takes a sample of cerebro-spinal fluid from the spinal column. Only after a week of culturing did they find out that it was TB meningitis. This sickness caused his brain ventricles to close to the passage of fluids. This necessitated that a shunt procedure be undertaken to drain the excess fluid and de-compress his brain. By this time, his whole body became paralyzed and he lost his speech. I would not be able to listen to his voice again. He would just moan in order to communicate. And since he lost his ability to speak, eventually he also lost his ability to take in food through his mouth. The doctor had to put an NGT tube through his nose. But after a few weeks it had to be taken out and they had to bore a hole straight to his stomach and feed him through that tube.

All this time we were crying out to God . . . claiming His covenant promise of healing . . . Christian friends and church members were visiting and laying hands on him . . . . but healing did not appear. Finally on December 28, 2003, my son died of cardiac arrest and other complications. We felt grief. I felt pain in my heart almost like a physical pain. I told God in the ICU that it hurts a lot seeing that my only son is dead. I did not only lose a son. I lost my dreams for him. There are so many plans for him that will not be carried out anymore. So many unfulfilled expectations. I buried him with a heavy heart. It is every parent’s belief that his children will outlive him and bury him when he dies. But i did not expect that I will be burying my son at a young age. It was the grace of God that sustained me and my wife and my daughter as we went through the valley of the shadow of death. We felt God’s love through the support of family and friends in church. To all of YOU, we are grateful.

So, do i still believe in prayer? ABSOLUTELY. Do I believe that God is a God of healing and miracles? YES HE STILL IS.

We should not view prayer as a lucky charm or a ‘hit and miss’ roulette – that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. It is the means by which I relate with God and a way for Him to build my character.

We can best learn this truth from the convictions of the three Hebrew boys who were exiled when they faced a mighty king demanding that they bow down before his idol or else be barbequed in a hot furnace.

Dan. 3:17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.

Dan. 3:18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The God we serve is able to save us. I have seen how the Lord moved in the past in my own personal life and in the lives of others. He is an omnipotent God who can perform signs, wonders and miracles.

He will rescue us. It’s a declaration of faith! We know that we can trust the Lord no matter what. He is both able and willing.

BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT. . . . . . . This is a bold statement! Just like the three Hebrew boys, only a few good men may dare make this statement. But this actually shows us the level of commitment, convictions and trust to the One and only true God! It is a statement of surrender to the sovereign will of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I believe that you can only give your life fully to the ONE you trust, knowing that He desires to bring you good and not harm. Even though He did not heal Jerome, we are still convinced that the God we serve is faithful and His nature is good. Even if He did not heal Jerome, I can still stand up in church and declare that the God we serve is a benevolent and loving God. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT . . . . He is still worthy of our praise and adoration!

In this tragic moment, the words of Job echo in my ears, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Ariel Marquez is also the father of Bea, Ana and Andrea and is the senior pastor of VCF – Alabang in Manila.

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Responses

  1. Ariel thank you for modeling for me what true biblical faith is all about. You have heroic faith in my book; a faith that has a belief and trust in God even if things don’t turn out as expected.

  2. you are one of my heroes, pastor A. i count it a privilege to be part of the alabang family.

  3. Thank you for your courage to post this. We also lost of first born at a young age, and so I relate to much of what you said. We prayed (but no 40 days of fasting), as did many of our friends and family. When our daughter died, some said she would not have died if we just had enough faith. I never believed that sentiment. I believe you did the right thing – prayed in faith, while accepting God’s sovereignty. That’s living by faith. Perhaps the statement that resonated most was, “I did not only lose a son. I lost my dreams for him.” We thought we had a healthy daughter, but over time we learned she had Cerebral Palsy, and over time we learned all she would not be, and so those dreams would never come to pass. But resurrection gives us more to look forward to. Thanks for being willing to honor you son in this way, three years later. I hope you are not “getting over this.” One sermon I heard about 20 years after our daughter died stated, “There are some things, I don’t think God wants us to get over.” God never designed a world where we lose our children at an early age (thus it continues to hurt). But He calls us to work for the redemption of the world we now have.

  4. Thank you Pastor Ariel.

    Over 6 years ago, my mom called me with news no son off to college wants to hear: she was diagnosed with cancer. 2 days prior at Campus Harvest, I had committed to go into full-time ministry. My mom encouraged me to continue ministering on the campus and not to stop the calling of God.

    Later, when praying at her bedside, I learned something about faith. I KNEW she would be okay. The Author and Perfecter of my faith had given me an assurance and had convinced me of something I could not see. It wasn’t something I had convinced myself of, it was just there. His Word went into my heart and that was it.

    After struggling through chemo, she completely recovered. An amazing woman of God, she went on to do what she’s been doing for over 20 years: teaching others to pray in small ministry teams.

    So back to your post…

    I read this on Tuesday. As I was leaving the Every Nation office later that day, I got another call. This time it’s bad. Real bad. The cancer is back and it’s everywhere. My wife and I are flying home on Saturday to be with my mom. My family and I have a peace that truly surpasses all understanding. Please pray for God to be glorified and His will to be done. It will take multiple miracles for my mom, Sue, to remain with us, but EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, He truly is a Good God and His love is deeper than we can imagine.

    Thank you for your prayers.

  5. ariel – thx for sharing your painful story, and for building our faith in our great God. and thx for being so faithful to God all the years i have known you – since that day at the ‘R&R seminar’ across from DLSU. it is a priviledge to serve God and our church along with you & shirley.

  6. Ariel, the true essence of prayer is a dependancy on our Great God and Friend and your story is a gentle reminder that He is God and we are not. Thanks for sharing your life with us. You inspire us to hunger for Him in a greater measure. God bless. Bob

  7. Ariel, I´m writing from Santa Cruz Bolivia, we have an Every Nation church here too, thanks for sharing your story it´s very painful but really touched my heart, I would like to share it with my church on the thursday service, I know this is going to build a strong faith in our great God. and thanks for being so faithful to God all these years.
    The Lord bless your family and you too.
    Ps. Rina Rodríguez
    Santa Cruz – Bolivia
    South America

  8. Sir, that is one of the greatest testimonials that I have ever heard. You are truly a faithful man of God.

  9. Hi Tom. Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. I agree with you when you said that “There are some things, I don’t think God wants us to get over.” Pastor David Houston ministered in our church in Alabang a few months after my son’s death and talked about what He went through when his son Gabriel died almost 20 years ago. I remember him saying that he would still have a good cry about it once a month. I believe that God wants to heal us from the pain and sorrow. But the truth is, the memories live on. I don’t want to lose the feeling of missing him. In fact, this has given me a better grasp of eternity. Sometimes I describe the feeling by saying that my one foot is standing here on earth and the other is already at heaven’s door. Heaven has been a more “real” place to me because I know somebody who is there that I personally loved and cared for.

    Ariel

  10. Hi Luke.

    I’m standing with you for a miracle for your mom. May His grace and peace sustain you and your family during this time. What also strengthened us was the realization that there is a spiritual family praying and holding the ropes for us.

    Praying for you.

    Ariel

  11. Thank you Ariel.

    My wife and I flew home to be with her and she told me numerous times she could literally feel waves of prayers being prayed over her. Thank you so much. One thing God continues to encourage me with is His kingdom. His ways are so far above our own and His peace is true like few things can be.


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