Out of the Woods

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The Abundant Life Blog

Wake Up Church -- A Counselor's Response to the Prayers for Olive

Posted by cyndyadeniyi@gmail.com on December 22, 2019 at 2:25 PM

Many have responded to what is currently happening at Bethel Church in Redding, California, where well-meaning but very misinformed worshipers are earnestly contending for 2 year old Olive to be raised from the dead. Many pastors and theologians have already commented on the theological errors have have lead to this movement. I want to speak to the emotional problems. 

In addition to the parents who are grieving both the death of Olive and what would have to be the death of portions of their faith, there are many ripple effects of this dangerous approach to demanding that God act in a particular way. 

What shall we say to the parents of children who died a week earlier. Were they irresponsible to bury their children? Have the millions of Christians who have buried a loved one somehow had a faith that was not worthy of God's attention or His action? Have we as believer's lacked enough faith to get God to move for 2000 years? There is also an impact when one spends hours and hours fighting for something they cannot have. Add to that chanting in a manner that alters one's state of consciousness and the despair that follows the disappointment can approach clinicall levels. 

For all of us who have loved and lost someone, the Word of God provides us hope. That hope does not lie in the possibility of earthly resurrection. The idea that we can force God to heal the dead through hours of chanting and demanding so that the loved one can face years more on this troubled earth instead of being secure and at peace with God himself is selfish. Our hope in scripture is clear. We know that those in Christ have a more wonderous life after death. The ultimate healing is not to be cure of physical illness only to face another illness on another day. The ulitmate helaing is to never die again... to live forever with God... and what a beautiful life it is.

Consider the description of those who come out of the tribulation in  Revelations 7: 9-17

 9After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

 13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 15“Therefore they are before the throne of God,

and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;

the sun shall not strike them,

nor any scorching heat.

17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

(English Standard Version)

This is the truth that allows the grieving to move from grief to joy. This is the truth that saves us from despair. If I am to only seek out earthly resurrection as my hope, there is no reason to move from grief to joy. If instead I look forward to a day when I am able to worship God with fear of hunger or thirst, without the possibility of sin, and without any fear or tears, then and only then can embrace tje joy available through Christ.

Let's stop praying for Olive. Olive is doing just fine. Instead, let's pray for her parents and for her church family that they would experience true joy offered in the simplicity of Christ's Gospel. 

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