“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
I have really struggled with this verse. I think any believer who’s experienced chronic illness probably has. I have asked a lot of times for things I have not received.
In fact, from the first moment Benaiah’s brain scans popped up on the screen in the hospital, my thoughts were not “Oh, well I’ll just ask the Lord to heal that, He can do anything!” To my shame, my heart sank. How many thousands of parents have pleaded with God for their sick child, only to watch them keep suffering? I thought. Why would He answer me?
Instead of recalling all the times the Lord has moved into my circumstances and heard my cries for help, I let myself dwell on suspicion: How could you let this happen to my child? We’re just trying to serve you with our lives and our family is getting hit with one thing after another! You could have stopped this, and you didn’t, so how can I expect your help?
I asked absolutely everyone to pray for our son. And I kept asking. Shooting flares into the darkness. But I braced myself for no help to come.
There in the waiting, a friend wrote this to me:
“I know that that’s the place you’re sitting. Terrified of all that could be to come. I feel so deeply in that for you and even if hope is too painful to hold right now yourself, that’s ok. I’ll hold it for you. I’m praying with hope and confidence for his healing. Many people held that for me with [my daughter] because I honestly just couldn’t. So I’m here. Holding hope and holding light if ever you need it.”
I felt so known. When it was for myself, I could hold onto hope. But when it was my brand new baby? How could I face all that was ahead if I let myself hope and that hope was disappointed? My faith felt fractured. I was reeling, and kicking myself for not standing firm, especially if what my baby needed was for me to pray in faith and confidence and I couldn’t muster it.
But I think the Lord led this mom to gently write to me: “I’ll hold it for you.”
Person by person, a community of people messaged, called, showed up at my door. They were holding hope for me. They kept asking when my voice broke. They kept knocking when my hand fell limp.
You hold that baby. We’ll hold your hope. We’re praying for him. We’re believing for him. God can change this. Don’t lose sight of what He is able to do.
A speaker at our church retold the story of the man with a demon-possessed son who asked Jesus to heal him, if He could.
“If I can?” Jesus had asked, “Anything is possible if you believe.”
“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” the man cried.
Tears stung in my eyes. This had been my cry, too. The speaker lowered her voice, and gently said, “It was in this father’s crisis of faith that Jesus healed his son, not in his moment of strength.”
A few days later, I read this verse: “This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to take away our sins…We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.“
–1 John 4:10, 16
I was despairing, breaking, fearful, suspicious. But patiently, through His word and His people, God was there with me, reminding me that it is a safe thing to wait on Him. That even when I fear what is waiting for me on the other side of the door, I must keep knocking. I must keep asking. Because God may not help me in the specific way I ask, but his help will surely meet me when I ask Him. His peace is found on the other side of that conversation. And there is no shortcut to it, because He is the answer, not any of the things I’m praying for. I know He will always give me good things when I ask, because He always gives me himself.
“The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them.”
“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you…Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.”
–Psalm 37:5, 7
Four months later, here I am, marveling at how well my little son is doing. Rubbing my eyes and looking again, and slowly realizing that God is doing what I was afraid to hope for, in spite of how poorly I trusted Him. I wanted to stand firm with unwavering faith. But what happened is this: I went down, and God sent help.
I am part of a body, and “all the members care for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking? It’s not just an instruction to the individual. It’s a call to a team. Pursue the Lord. Walk with Him. Plead with Him. Not just for yourselves, but for each other. Keep going after Him. And keep reminding each other how much He loves us, how faithful He is, that He’s a good Father who is worthy of our trust.
We are loved by a God who can do anything. He is with us in trouble. He is steady when we falter. It’s the message of the Gospel all over again. Not that we buckled down and made our way to Him, but that He stepped down into our helplessness and offered Himself. And it will probably not be my amazing example of faith that will win the world to Jesus, but my humbled heart, again and again, moved to awe by his amazing faithfulness.
So when He says to keep knocking, I will keep pounding at the door. Both for myself and for the ones who are going under. Because He’s not only testing our faith; He’s building it.
“…We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”
–2 Corinthians 1:8-11