I STILL BELIEVE (the movie)
Today I want to tell you about a movie I watched recently, not so much the movie but the story it told, because it touched a sensitive topic that I find myself struggling with every now and then. The movie, I still believe, is based on the true-life story of Christian music singer Jeremy Camp, and it stars KJ Apa (as Jeremy) and Britt Robertson (as Melissa) as lead characters.
Young Jeremy goes to college and falls in love with beautiful Melissa, his was love at first sight. They eventually become a couple but then Melissa is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. Being so in love and convinced that theirs is a story written in heaven, Jeremy commits to Melissa and decides to marry her against the sound advice of his parents. As his fiancee’s condition worsens, Jeremy shares her story with the public on various platforms and asks for the prayer supports of believers all the while believing strongly that she’ll be healed. Few weeks later they visit the doctor for updates on her chemotherapy only to be told that the cancer has spread to her ovaries and she needs to have them removed as soon as possible. The day of surgery arrives, Melissa gets prepped and sent to the OR only for the doctor to rush in and tell them that the cancer has disappeared and that she’s completely healed. Wow!!
The miracle of Melissa’s recovery boosts up the faith of the young couple and they go ahead to share this with as many people as possible- even I was filled with renewed hope at this point. Six months later, they get married and set off to begin their happily ever after. Unfortunately for them, the cancer reappears and it’s much more aggressive than before. Melissa only has a few weeks to live.
At this point in the movie I’m already like God why? What kind of game are you playing with this girl’s life? With these people’s faith? Melissa’s health worsens pretty quickly and she reaches a point where she’s kind of ready for her death. Jeremy on the other hand really believes she’ll be healed again. I mean I can imagine the prayer points “God you healed her once, I believe you’ll heal her again” or something like that. Melissa is hospitalized and Jeremy stays by her side through it hoping, praying, believing that she’ll get better. One night as they’re asleep in the hospital, Melisa suddenly wakes up declaring that she’s healed… “it’s gone” she says, “I feel no more pain”. Jeremy rushed to get the doctor and while speaking to him they heard a large cry from Melissa’s room … she’d finally passed on. Really?! She was gone? Dead? Jeremy prayed with all his heart and yet still she died.
The movie doesn’t end there and I’ll tell you how it ends but before then I’d like to talk about the story so far and the thoughts it provoked in me. This is a very familiar story, maybe not the same way it happens but still I’m sure we have at least one or two occasions where we prayed for something we really needed and it didn’t happen. In the movie we see that Melissa became healed at first and we see how this lifted up the spirits of her loved ones and how they went about telling her story to encourage others to keep praying and believing in God for their miracle. Unfortunately we see again the return of her cancer and how this time around in spite of the many prayers said, she still died. Now these two events had different impacts on Jeremy and his faith and same can be said for most of us. This movie got me really thinking about something I guess I haven’t really paid much heed to: prayer and how it affects my relationship with God (especially when God says no).
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours…Mark 11:24
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us…1John 5:4
My question then is, where does my faith end and the will of God begin? What happens when God says no? There are times when my faith is enough to carry me forward, but most times I just find myself stuck, lost and unable to carry on because I lost the motivation to keep praying.
I believe in God with all my being, I know He loves me and I believe in His intentions for me. I want you to know these things before you attempt to answer my question or even judge my Christianity. This isn’t a post to complain, this is just me sharing my inner struggles with you, in hopes that you would probably be able to open my faith up to better withstand future trials. So that if anyone is going through the same, they wouldn’t feel alone and for those who’ve overcome something similar to share how they overcame.
After losing his wife, Jeremy found himself in a place where he didn’t know what to do or how to believe… he was hurt and broken and in a serious crisis of faith. He was a musician and most of His songs were about God and his faith but he couldn’t bring himself to write or play anymore. Hands up if you, like Jeremy, have ever been upset with God or even struggled to move on because your prayer wasn’t answered… both my hands are up.
I’ve seen many articles and sermons on how to pray effectively and how to get your prayers answered;
1) Pray in the name of Jesus
2) Pray with faith and do not doubt,
3) Some battles can only be won through fasting so fast,
4) Be persistent,
5) If you’re not praying in tongues then you’re not serious about your request,
6) Sometimes you need to show God how serious you are by praying the “if prayer” i.e sowing a seed,
7) You probably have a sin to repent of etc etc…
While the above listed may be true in some cases, I can’t help but wonder… Isn’t it possible that sometimes God’s will isn’t what we are praying for? Maybe we should have more sermons on how to keep going when God says no. I remember there was a point in my life where I was praying for something that was really important and urgent but each day the situation only got worse. I remember nights where I’ll be wondering if it’s because I’m not praying well, wondering if I wasn’t using the right words… I was frustrated.
Sometimes it feels like God is not attaching any urgency to an ‘obviously’ urgent and time sensitive prayer. For example, when my shipment delayed and clients were giving me sleepless nights, or when we prayed for a friend’s fees to be paid so he could graduate but the money never came and in the end he had to wait until almost 2 years later before he could clear his fees and get his certificates or how we prayed for my grandmum’s health but she still passed away in the end. During such times I wonder, if God will do what He wants, in His own time, why then should I pray? Why even pray more than once?
Could it be that prayer isn’t necessarily about telling God what I want Him to do for me? Could it be that it’s not all about order, receive, thank you? Could I have gotten it all wrong? Am I just an entitled Christian in this case? I realized that my coping mechanism in such times is to not make personal requests when I pray so as to avoid disappointments that may shake my faith. This behavior only made me less keen to pray and so I spent less time praying and not only did this make me spiritually weak but also affected my relationship with God.
I realize that writing these things may seem as though I’ve lost my faith or something like that, far from it. I hope you see this post for what it is, an opportunity to help me and others like me who encounter such struggles every now and then on how best we can escape this crippling cycle.
I think I’ve asked enough questions and so for now I’ll end here and await your replies. My next post will be a conclusion post and will contain what I’ve learnt so far on this topic and the replies you give.
I’ll leave you with a song that pretty much sums up today’s post … Even if by Mercy Me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fA35Ved-Y
Eagerly looking forward to your replies. Don’t be a stranger.