From bad to worse to . . . astonishing

August 18th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized

Have you ever noticed that the harder you pray, the worse things get? It seems to be a biblical pattern! For instance, take the story of Jairus’ daughter. Here’s how it seems to play out:

1. Problem looks bad

Jairus, a synagogue leader comes to Jesus with an urgent request. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live” (Mark 5:23). But what happens?

2. Someone else’s prayer is answered before ours

Jesus is delayed in going with this very important religious leader to address an anonymous, poor woman. “A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse” (Mark 5:25-26).

So, while Jesus is healing this insignificant nobody, Jairus is tapping his sandal and glaring at a nearby sundial. And then . . .

3. The problem gets worse

Really worse! Ten whole verses later we read, “While [Jesus] was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now” (Mark 5:35).

Do you find things worse place after making your request known. I put a friend. who is far from God, on my prayer list on a Monday and Tuesday he started drinking—after a lifetime of not touching a drop of alcohol!

4. The Lord promises a solution

“But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just have faith'” (Mark 5:36).

The exact phrase, “Do not fear” is used 51 times from Genesis to Revelation. (One inspirational Facebook post—not the most theologically reliable source—is going “viral” claiming it’s commanded 365 times: one for each day of the year. I could find only around 80 in context, but I digress!)

The bottom line, the Bible says “Do not fear” . . . a lot! It’s too easy to break into a cold sweat, restock your bunker and clean your weapons after watching the evening news. But the biblical command concerning fear is don’t!

5. Belief in promise ridiculed by unbelievers

When Jesus arrives on the scene, the professional mourners and flute players had already been hired and were creating quite a cacophony. According to tradition—and the Jerusalem Musicians Union 777—the family of the dead were required to hire this troupe for a proper period of mourning. So, when Jesus announces the girls is not dead, but merely sleeping, the unbelievers have a field day mocking Christian faith. Hmmm? Sound familiar?

6. Unbelievers are shut out, only those who believe invited in

Here’s where today’s “faith healers” and “miracle workers” diverge from Jesus’ approach. Instead of inviting in the media for Brother Bob Blessing‘s Miracle Crusade, the Lord doesn’t allow the unbelievers and skeptic in for a “show.” This is a private, sacred moment.

God seems to work in anonymity, behind the scenes. “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

7. A far greater miracle occurs than the original request sought

God has a flare for the dramatic! The Israelites don’t simply stroll out of Egypt. They’re trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea—so God simply blows a dry path through the sea and then as a final dramatic flair, drowns the pursuing army. The three Hebrew young men don’t talk their way out of the fiery furnace—they simply enjoy a bracing sauna with a heavenly being. And King Jehoshaphat doesn’t confront an enemy army with weapons, but the worship team. They “kill” the musical set—and every one of the enemy soldiers.

And so, rather than simply raising up a young girl from her sick bed, Jesus raises her from her funeral pyre! And the believers are “overwhelmed and totally amazed.” (The Greek word existemi, translated amazed, actually means to be “astonished out of one’s mind.”)

So continue to pray! Don’t let up! But be aware, that the situation may go from bad to worse. But do not fear, God will answer “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). You will be astonished out of your mind!

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins. (Originally appeared in Presidential Prayer Team: Viewpoint February 2014)

Related posts
God is such a “drama king”!
Giving up fear for Lent
God is never late . . . but He sure is slow
Waiting is hard work!

Has God done something in your life that caused you to be “astonished out of your mind”? Add a comment of encouragement below. Thanks!

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20 Responses

    • jameswatkins says:

      Thanks, Jay! Praying for God to do something “astonishing” with you and your music group! “The Captain has turned on the fasten guitar strap sign.”

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! Much needed!

  • Zack says:

    I woke up this morning thinking exactly that! My prayers seem to be making things worse. My back / leg muscle issues which limit my job prospects got so bad that I can barely get out of bed without wincing from the pain. And to add to my financial burden just yesterday the brakes of my truck gave in. So I am looking forward to having the body of a 20 year old that won the lottery!!!

  • bonsfa says:

    I have read article after article of fluff responses or how someone needs to check their sins (come on how many times does one have to ask forgiveness for the same thing when one has stopped doing that sin), they just need to wait (people in pain and suffering for long periods of time are not going to be helped by saying that because they are at their ropes end-not a help), They don’t have enough faith (the fact that they keep praying seems to be faith to me), and so on. My family and myself have been attacked our whole life. Most times it doesn’t seem we get any answers. My brother is going through hard times with getting work for years now. Anything he does get is not enough to cover bills or something bad happens and the money goes to that. We are talking YEARS here not 6 months.He is behind in paying bills and taxes simply trying to keep a roof over his head. He became a diabetic. His eyes are so bad that he can’t hold a regular job that requires reading because he just can’t see it. He is getting shots in his eyes still and they won’t give him glasses until he is done with the shots to see if they even worked. He recently got a blister on his big toe that went bad very quick and we had to take him to the emergency room (two days before Christmas). They never cleaned the wound but gave him antibiotics and sent him home to come back the next day for a recheck. Next day they admitted him to the hospital and did an MRI that night. They said they couldn’t do nothing on Christmas day because there was no one there that could help him (they did give him anitbiotics and such but no specialist). I found that hard to believe. Tuesday they cut off his big toe because they said the infection had went to the bone. He was not release until Thursday. Before going to his doctor to change the dressing out he is notified by his insurance that they are not covering the bills at all. Period. Cut to when he is supposed to get his bandage changed by his doctor, she says (not his regular doctor either but he was in the office) that she can’t do anything. She is sending him to a specialist to change his dressings. He calls the doctor for the appt and they have told him that his insurance is now inactive/cancelled. We have prayed this whole time. Others have prayed this whole time. Every time we have prayed it just gets worse and worse. My brother actually said to me today “I would just be better off dieing. I can’t take anymore”. I don’t even know if sending him this article will help or just frustrate him further because he just doesn’t think God cares for him. He feels much like I do. Are we even saved? What great sin is blocking from receiving help. And this is only one incident in our lives, way too many to list here, where it just gets worse and nothing good ever happens. The end result is never good. So 40 some plus years of this waiting has drained all of us. Perhaps the answer is that some of us get a Lazerus {I don’t know how to spell his name) life no matter what we do.. No prayer is going to work. No good outcome. And to make matters worse we always get to see others delivered or blessed over and over but not us. We have come to the conclusion that maybe we are not saved, never will be saved. Now here comes this article. Thank you so much for putting this up. This gave me some new hope. I was typing this and my brother called. The insurance changed websites and didn’t tell their customers so my brothers old number was invalid. He will have to wait 30 to 45 days for the hospital to resend all paperwork and hopefully this will all be settled. I know my faith is week but articles like this (instead of the blame game ones) are needed more so encouragement is given. I thank the Lord for being patient with us. I am so glad he has the biggest shoulders 🙂 And bless you for your love of the Lord and fellow believers.

    • I am so grateful that my article gave you “some new hope.” I have been right where you and your brother are (four surgeries in three hospitals in two months, loss of jobs, etc. And I’ve had those same questions. My latest book deals with the questions of unanswered prayer, unfulfilled promises and unpunished evil. Here’s a free excerpt that may be helpful. Meanwhile, you’re in my prayers.

    • Dada says:

      Hi. I’m on the same track as this. But the thing is I read all articles related to this but I’d doesn’t seem to give me hope. I’m still looking my faith every second that passess. So how are you now?

    • Emmanuela Safari says:

      I don’t know if your situation has changed or not, but I believe God always comes to our rescue….and at times actually most times we don’t understand what He does or why but JUST KEEP HAVING FAITH, He will answer you within His perfect time. There’s a verse in the bible, don’t remember which one but it says that God uses our suffering to speak to us, that only then will we really listen so hang in, please.

      • Thanks for your comment and concern. The passage you’re referring to is one of my favorites–and so true:

        “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

        I love it!

  • Emma says:

    I have been crying throughout the night. My relationship troubles with my husband have just gone from bad to worse. He has told me he doesnt even want to talk to me. He wants to move on leaving me with a one year old and 7 months pregnant. This is after many many day and nights of prayers and a full week last week of fasting asking God to restore my relationship. I have read your post and i have renewed hope. Thank you so much. I will continue praying and believing that God will fulfill each promise he has made

    • I was so sorry to read your comment on my website. You and your husband are in my prayers.

      I have seen marriages wonderfully restored . . . but also godly men and women go through hurtful divorces. So, I am praying that whichever way this turns out, God will be with you and give you love, wisdom and strength. My daughter not only survived a divorce from a serial adulterer, but she and her two beautiful daughters have not only survived but thrived and have grown into godly young women.

      “Father, please grant my friend, Emma, hope for restoration of the marriage and assurance that whatever happens, you are right there with her wrapping her in your love and strength. Amen.”

  • Dilip says:

    Oh I jus love your words!!! Found this at the right time! Thank God! God bless you!

  • Jay says:

    Best article I have read on the subject. It made me smile and lifted me up with scripture.

  • Lisa says:

    So Glad I saw this! I truly believe God is a miracle worker and that all things are possible through him. Thank you for posting this, it was very much needed. Stay Blessed!

  • Aphx says:

    I’ve been hearing at this same b******* my whole life, when I stop praying, things are s***, even though I’m a great person, with a lot of talent and a lot of love to give and a lot of goodness, but I suffer with illness and problems that I think we’re cause, in my mind, possibly from all the times in my life that God punished me imma ruined my goals and aspirations every time they started getting off the ground, to the point where according to natural law my body just started going haywire and crazy down to the cells.

    expecting that everything was just going to go bad no matter how much good I tried to create. No matter how much I followed my life goals and passions at whatever time in my life that I did them, things just got worse and worse all the time. There was always something that would happen that would ruin whatever path I set out on. even if those paths that I set out on, we’re past that I thought God wanted me to be on. That I was using the talents and gifts that he gave me.

    F*** that, he wanted me to suffer. And still when I put my faith in God and I start to pray, things systematically get far worse.

    if God wanted me to suffer for a while and then have things go amazingly well, he would have done it by now. Not give me a lifetime of complete s*** and the only good things that happened were things I fought tooth-and-nail for, only to have them taken away by him again.

    I don’t trust this “God” at all.

    • I get it. A family member who didn’t speak to me for five years. Cancer and then being fired as communications pastor at a mega-church because the radiation treatments “interfered” with my job. Being betrayed by so-called “Christians.” Plus, clinical depression and a bit of autism spectrum. I get it. Jesus saves, but life sucks.

      So, I won’t give you any more “b********” than you’ve already heard, except to say I understand and I’m praying that God will show you how much he loves you and that—hard to believe now—that he really does want to work good out of a “lifetime of complete s***.”

      Feel free to email me at I promise not to pile on pat answers or judge you. I’m a good listener, who really does care for his readers.

  • Florence says:

    Twice I’ve gotten jobs I din’t apply for, no interview, Both times it was after much prayer for a job

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