Summary: "IF" is an intricate and indispensable part of life. Sometimes God must put us in an "iffy" situation so we can learn to pray!
The Power of “IF”
Oscar did not know what would be in store for his family as they disembarked at Ellis Island. There were times during their long journey from Sweden that young Oscar wondered if they would ever get to this wonderful place called America. Yet Oscar and his family settled in Minnesota and began to make a new life for themselves. Not only did they struggle to get here but it would not be long until more trouble would come. Soon Oscar would find himself lying in the bed gasping for air. His right lung collapsed and his body so ravaged by Tuberculosis that every breath was extremely difficult. He tried to keep his breathing in rhythm with his brother Paul lying in the bed next to him, but Paul’s rhythm became more and more shallow with more and more rattle. When Oscar’s brother Paul lost the battle to TB and died, he was certain he would be next.
A minister came to that sanitarium in Minneapolis to visit the sick, lay hands on them, and pray. Only Jesus knows the name of that humble servant of God, but changes began to happen in Oscar’s body and heart. The collapsed lung began to heal. Oscar regained his health and went on to become a pastor, evangelist, and songwriter.
Listen to the words of the one of the songs Oscar C. Eliason wrote:
“Be of good courage,” God spake unto Joshua,
When o’er the river God pointed the way;
Jordan un-crossable! things seemed impossible,
Waters divide as they march and obey.
“Got any rivers you think are un-crossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible,
He can do just what no other can do.”
-Oscar C Eliason
God can be found in two places:
one high and lofty,
the other among the lowly and contrite.
15 For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. (NIV)
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Since none of us can get up that high,
it is wise to stay down low.
Pastor Ben Patterson tells about how he learned this lesson the hard way: “In the spring of 1980 I was suffering great pain from what was diagnosed as two herniated discs in my lower back. The prescription was total bed rest. But since my bed was too soft, the treatment ended up being total floor rest. I was frustrated and humiliated. I couldn’t preach, I couldn’t lead meetings, I couldn’t call on new prospects for the church. I couldn’t do anything but pray.
Not that I immediately grasped that last fact. It took two weeks for me to get so bored that I finally asked my wife for the church directory so I could at least do something, even if it was only pray for the people of my congregation. Note: it wasn’t piety but boredom and frustration that drove me to pray. But pray I did, every day for every person in my church, two or three hours a day. After a while, the time became sweet.
Toward the end of my convalescence, anticipating my return to work, I prayed, "Lord, this has been good, this praying. It’s too bad I don’t have time to do this when I’m working."
And God spoke to me, very clearly. He said, "Stupid (that’s right, that was his very word. He said it in a kind tone of voice, though). You have the same 24 hours each day when you’re weak as when you’re strong. The only difference is that when you’re strong you think you’re in charge. When you’re weak you know you aren’t."
That’s when I began to understand that God loves the little things, the secret things his servants do, because when we stop being lords, he can be Lord. And when he is Lord, there is power, and there is fruit.
The good fruit visible is planted in prayers prayed in weakness and in secret. What happens in prayer is to the spiritual realm what the first two weeks of life are to the physical.” (from Leadership Journal, 2001)
Sometimes it’s a fight to be weak!
The Apostle Paul came to grips with His own fight to be weak in 2 Corinthians 12.
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.