When I was a child and was sick, my father prayed with me. Holding my hand, he would say to God, “Lord, we know that you have the power to do all things. If it is your will, I ask you to heal my son.” Sometimes God answered quickly, and sometimes God took more time. But God always healed me. At least that is how it seemed.
By his example, my father taught me that God was with me, even when I was suffering. So years later, when my grandfather lay dying in the hospital, I held his hand. I prayed the same prayer my father taught me. But, after a long struggle, my grandfather died. Why didn’t God heal him?
We receive from God whatever we ask (1 John 3:22). Right? Life has taught me there is more to it than this. Instead, God asks us to believe in the name of Jesus Christ—in the identity of his Son who was fully human and fully divine, who suffered, died, and rose from the dead. To believe in Jesus is to do as he asks and to love as he loves. To believe in Jesus is to do what we can to alleviate the suffering of others, which is how Jesus reveals himself in today’s Gospel.
When we recognize who Jesus truly is, we can surrender our will to God. Through this surrender, God changes our prayers. We no longer ask for what we want but for what God wants. When we surrender to God’s will, despite any physical suffering, God remains in us and we remain in God.
Jesus, our Lord and our brother, belongs to God. So does my grandfather. And so do we.