Asking for The Impossible

I've been struggling to know how to pray for this upcoming PET scan. I want to pray that everything comes back clean. I don't want this to be melanoma. I don't want to deal with another surgery. I don't want Bryan to go through radiation and the other things they said might be on the table if this is melanoma again.

But, if the scans come back clean it won't be a complete relief. The lump will still be there. Bryan will still be in pain from it. The doctor already told us that even with a clean scan he will still think it's melanoma and want to do a biopsy and follow it closely.

Just having a clean scan isn't enough. I want more than just a clean scan. I want this whole lump to just be gone, disappear, suddenly vanish.

But, I've struggled with asking God for that.

It's easy enough for me to tell God that's what I want, but asking him to do that...well, that's harder.

I struggle with asking for a miracle. I mean, a clean scan would be pretty miraculous according to our doctor, but it is still a possibility, within understanding. But, the lump just going away, disappearing completely, well, that wouldn't be in the realm of understandable, that would be a clear miracle, and I really struggle with asking for that.

It feels a bit like asking God for a magic trick.

It feels a bit like indulging in avoidance and denial of the path that God has set before us.

It also stirs up my own doubts about God, doubts that say "God might be good, but he's not going to be good enough to me." Doubts that question the ability, character, and very existence of God.

And it feels a bit selfish, self-centered, and unaligned with "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Last night a friend emailed me after I had shared some of this and reminded me how Paul asked God to take away his thorns and stumbling blocks and how Jesus asked God to "remove this cup" before going to the cross.

Then I got to thinking about all the other people throughout the stories of the bible who asked God for really big things. Who asked God to part waters, heal illness, send fire from heaven, even raise the dead. Sometimes God did what they asked and sometimes, like in the cases of Paul and Jesus, they didn't get what they asked for. And yet they still asked, in fact Jesus asked so fervently that he sweat blood.

In other areas of my life I've been thinking a lot about asking. Before I turned thirty I wrote this post about communicating desires and asking for what I wanted in regards to my birthday, but these thoughts have lingered with me throughout the whole year.

I struggle with asking people for what I want and what I need, much as I struggle with asking God for what I want. But, I'm finding that clearly communicating my desires to those around me has only been a positive experience. The old saying "it never hurts to ask" is really deeply true. At worst you are no worse off than you were before you asked and at best you get your needs and desires met. I've realized as I've started pushing myself to ask people around me for what I want that most if the time it has worked out greatly in my favor. It's still hard, but I'm learning and I've come a long way in the past year.

Perhaps now, God is pushing me beyond just asking other people for what I want and challenging me to ask him for what I really want - even the really big, seemingly impossible things.

I deeply value openness and I always thought that I was very raw and honest in my prayers, but perhaps that has only been true up to a point. I haven't struggled asking God for things, but there's always been a line I felt I couldn't cross, there's always been a few things that seemed un-askable.

Too big. Too impossible. Too unrealistic.

But perhaps those are the very things God wants me to ask for? Perhaps I have never really experienced the extent of God's power because I have never pleaded with God to pour out that power in an impossible situation?

So, I'm trying.

Lord, I believe that you are all powerful. I ask and pray that you would touch Bryan with your mighty hand and heal whatever is malfunctioning in his body. I pray that the next two days would see a dramatic reduction in the lump in his underarm. I pray that it would miraculously go away. That this cup would be removed from us. That this path before us would be traded for a smoother one. I pray for a PET scan that is completely unquestioningly clean and a biopsy that is equally clean. I pray that the pain would stop. That the tumor would disappear. That you would work a miracle. For your glory and your renown, heal Bryan. Heal him completely and give us many, many more years together. We trust you to answer in the way that is best for us, we believe that your way is perfect and yet we put our desires before you and ask as your son asked "if there is any other way, let this cup be taken from me." In Jesus name. Amen.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman