DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Help My Unbelief

Written by: on May 31, 2018

As someone who has prayed for the healing of my daughter for years, reading Jackie Pullinger’s Chasing the Dragon was bittersweet. I love stories of miraculous healing and lives lived in a deep faith that seems like insanity or naiveté to others. Pullinger tells such a story and it is breath-taking. With a boldness few of us possess, she took a leap off the cliff of her calling and saw God’s hand in countless lives, interactions, and dangerous situations. She wasn’t naïve, she was faithful. She wasn’t insane, she was following what she knew to be God’s leading. She and God worked (and continue to work) in a mighty way on the streets and alleyways of Hong Kong, even in the darkly desperate Walled City of Kowloon where lawlessness and filth were pervasive. The stories she tells of lives changed, addictions healed, and even families restored are amazing.

 

And yet…

 

I couldn’t help thinking of all of us who have taken a leap of faith only to wind up sitting next to a loved one in yet another hospital, begging God, in the living name of Jesus, to not only spare that person, but fully heal them. I thought of my friend who called us together to lay hands on her swollen belly and ask God to let her baby live, only to wind up having us with her at the hospital as she delivered the child stillborn. And what about that family member who slips further and further away from faith, and reality?

 

What did Jackie Pullinger do that we didn’t? Was her faith simply stronger? Were the lives saved by her prayers and love more important than the lives that we prayed for? I simply can’t believe God operates that way, but I also don’t have a full explanation as to why Pullinger saw so many miracles, and our prayers seemed to go into the void.

 

In the deaths, illnesses, and devastating losses, I have noticed that God truly draws near to the brokenhearted.[1] I have also noticed that miracles like those in Chasing the Dragon just aren’t as common in the United States. When I was in Brazil, I saw people who lived brokenhearted every single day of their lives, yet they were filled with joy. Completely without food or money, they prayed expecting God to come through – and food would be dropped off on their front steps or someone would “remember” to pay them back money owed. Churches prayed, and the government reversed detrimental rulings. Mothers prayed, and their children came home from dangerous situations. After we came home, I wondered why I felt like the airplane had brought me further from the presence of God. It’s not like God spends more energy on the people of Brazil, or that the United States is void of the deeply faithful. I know plenty of godly people in the United States who wear holes in the knees of their pants from praying relentlessly. Why does it all feel so much more disconnected here?

 

I think it must be me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Pullinger or the people I met in Brazil had more faith than me in their prayers. I don’t think I somehow did it ‘wrong’ or that God couldn’t hear me because of my sin, or any of the hundreds of other clichés that get thrown at those of us who pray diligently for healing only to have the answer be an apparent, “no.” I know God doesn’t work like that. If I believed that was in God’s character, I would walk away and never look back. But I also know that my world tends to be filled with things that distract me from my broken-heartedness. When struggle comes, I push through on my own until I come to the end of myself, where finally I throw myself at God’s feet and beg for help. Pullinger and my friends in Brazil live in that place. They came to the end of themselves long ago and realized that only the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit can truly change hearts.

 

I should probably add here that I don’t think my distracted faith is why my daughter wasn’t healed. I don’t know why that was, but I have traced God in the midst of her illness. It wasn’t disconnected faith that caused my friend’s baby to be stillborn, but God was there with us while we held her and God has done a remarkable thing in that family through the pain. I say I think it’s me because I am the one who feels disconnected. I am the one who loves God, but maybe not with my WHOLE heart, mind, soul, and strength. God hears my cries and comes alongside me. But the miracles don’t happen. Do I believe they will the way Pullinger and other like her do? I honestly don’t know.

 

I don’t have any answers for the hard “why” questions. I can only look at the miracles in awe and praise God for the way they happened and the way they changed lives in generation after generation. I think also, though, I can use the slight twinge of jealousy to remind myself, and others, that God is near to the brokenhearted, and even more so to those whose hearts break for the same things that break God’s heart. Can I come close enough to the end of myself to keep those things at the forefront of my prayers? Can I surrender my plans and distractions to even a call to get on a slow boat to another part of the world – or to get on with the business of REALLY loving my neighbor?

 

 

[1] Psalm 34:18

About the Author

Kristin Hamilton

16 responses to “Help My Unbelief”

  1. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    So true- “When struggle comes, I push through on my own until I come to the end of myself, where finally I throw myself at God’s feet and beg for help.” I’m really working on God being my first resort, not my last resort when I need help. This book reminded me of the power of prayer. It was inspiring to hear the miracles performed due to prayers, which was truly their best antidote to their overwhelming issues.

    • Kristin Hamilton says:

      Me too, Jen. I don’t know why it takes me so long to remember that I can turn to God immediately, even before I need a miracle.

  2. Lynda Gittens says:

    Pullinger has an anointing for this ministry. We all experience Why’s but it’s the lesson in the experience that elevates and increase our closeness to God. We are also witnesses to the works of God and can be a testimony to many.
    You young lady are not as disconnected as you believe. Your journey with us proves that. You have remained on this journey through the many distractions that you have experienced.
    That’s not disconnected but maybe a pause every now and then.
    Thank you for the post

  3. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    Well, Kristin, I believe you put your finger (and heart) on it much more tangibly than I did, that disconnect between our experiences and Pullinger’s. And this: “I think also, though, I can use the slight twinge of jealousy to remind myself, and others, that God is near to the brokenhearted, and even more so to those whose hearts break for the same things that break God’s heart”– that, my friend, God’s comfort of the brokenhearted, is something we can immerse ourselves in. Thanks.

    • Kristin Hamilton says:

      Yes, Katy. Yes. Immersing ourselves in those things that break God’s heart and those who are brokenhearted…that is really what Pullinger did. I may not be able to pray for hundreds (thousands?) of people to be released from addiction like she did, but there is so much pain in the world that I can be a part of the comfort. Beautiful.

  4. Stu Cocanougher says:

    I sometimes relate to the brother of the prodigal son. Sometimes we see God pour out unmerited blessings on others, and the faithful sit by the sidelines and say “but what about my needs?”

  5. Mary Walker says:

    Kristin, I think we’ve all been there. Thank you for pouring out your honest, faithful heart. I prayed and prayed to be healed but God didn’t give me any babies. Instead He gave me four other wonderful adopted kids. All of our experiences are unique, but we all have that same wonderful God who draws near to us in our brokenheartedness. Blessings on you my sister.

    • Kristin Hamilton says:

      I want to hug you, Mary! I hate that you endured that pain but I have met Angie and see where you and Steve have been blessed in the midst of it all.

  6. Kristin,
    Thanks so much for this – for all of it.
    Thanks for the willingness to admit the struggle of ‘why not me?’ or ‘why not my loved one?’ when we hear these wonderful miraculous stories.
    Thanks for wrestling with the hard question – is it me and/or my fault?
    Thanks for working through all of this hard stuff and helping us with your thoughts and wisdom.
    But maybe thanks most of all for the willingness to admit that there aren’t easy answers to these hard questions and resisting the temptation to try and manufacture some.
    I will carry with me your pointing towards the brokenhearted as I think about this and interact with those in the midst of the struggle with these questions.

    • Kristin Hamilton says:

      Thank you, Chip. I know you have had a bit more than your share of comforting the brokenhearted recently. I hope you can gather strength here.

  7. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    I love how you bring forward the questions that everyone asks. I know right now with the loss of our dear family friend to haneous gun violence I have spent all weekend asking God “why?” What I get in response is His peaceful presence. Knowing He is with me in the midst of my brokenness and pain! Thank for your post this week 🙂

    • Kristin Hamilton says:

      Oh Christal. The loss of your friend is one of those tragic things I cannot for the life of me understand, but I am so grateful you are receiving God’s peace and comfort!

  8. Jim Sabella says:

    Kristin, thank you for sharing again, with deep emotion, conviction, and clarity. I can say I struggle with some of the same questions and like you say, the answers are not always so evident or even evident at all. Why does one have miracle and I don’t? Why does it seems like God answers one person’s prayers and it seems that I get no response at all, only quiet—silence? These are valid questions of the faith. The hymns of the church are filled with the same questions. We are not alone! Your honesty and transparency has and will impact many. Thank you, Kristin.

  9. Kristin Hamilton says:

    Thank you, Jim. It’s weird how many of those hymns have been going through my mind this week. I was reminded of the time when lost my ability to find comfort in music and consider it nothing short of a miracle that I travelled through that. Those hymns have been solace on many a sleepless night.

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