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The Summit: Praying for the Impossible Miracle

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

by Rachelle Keng, MD


There is a lot of talk in the church about praying for the impossible miracle. But how do you pray with hope yet live in the reality of unanswered prayer?

The cup was not removed. And Yet Jesus asked Anyways. Luke 22:42 "Father if you are willing, remove the cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."
How do you pray for an impossible miracle? How do you pray with hope even in unanswered prayer?

Most people want to hear a heart-warming story of overcoming adversity. And sometimes through medicine, science, diet, and with enough faith - many adversities can be overcome. Our drive is all we need to conquer our adversity, right?


But the reality is, not all adversity can be overcome. Most of us are living in a reality that has not changed - despite faith, despite prayer, and despite our drive.


Because what if it isn't possible? What if there are limits to our bodies and abilities that we need to accept? What if our unanswered prayer is God’s final answer?


We must learn how to pray and how to live in this paradox of hope and reality.


Hope says that change is coming.

Reality recognizes loss, and that it may not get better.

Hope says that the broken will be made whole.

Reality recognizes grief may not always be redemptive - at least in this life.


This is a hard place to live as a Christian. We ask God for rescue in hope that He will answer in the ways we want. But because we live in a world marred by sin, pain is still a part of the Christian experience. Sometimes we are privileged to see God answer our prayers in our lifetime. And other times, we need faith that our prayers are neither time-sensitive nor time-stamped. Because while our prayers are said in hope, the reality is, many of us are living in the land of unanswered prayer.


Especially at 9,200 feet.


We were at Mauna Kea, a quiet volcanic giant at the Big Island of Hawaii. My family was at the visitor center, about to walk up a beaten path to the summit for a sunset view. We thanked God for this opportunity to see His natural splendor at the summit.


The peak seemed reachable, if only we would have the will and the physical stamina. My husband and I had never given a second thought to physical tasks in our able-bodies. But this time, we were pushing a double stroller with our 100-pound disabled daughter with Angelman’s Syndrome. The path was a forty degree incline that swiftly became a quick sand escalator.


The climb started with resolve. We were going to get our Angel to the top of the summit. But as the journey became impossible with each sinking wheel, we were hit with a wind-slapping grief. This was not going the way we had envisioned. We had hoped for that sunset summit moment. The one where we were going to laugh at Angelman Syndrome’s face and not be defined by her.


But in that moment, we were defined by her. We were limited by disability. And it hurt. Smaller children were galloping up the summit past us as we disappeared into the sand. Strangers stared blankly, not registering the absolute physical pain of moving 150 pounds up a mountain. As they raced ahead toward the mountain’s fingers tips, we were left behind like a swollen sore thumb.


The sun set behind the mountain, and we missed the view from the summit. In that moment, hope was crushed by reality.


All Christians face unanswered prayer at some time in their lives. The Christian strives to find hope in Christ, but the daily reality can be physically and emotionally grinding. The grief can be so paralyzing that we do not even ask anymore. Some days our faith is strong enough. And other days (a lot of the days) it is not.


For many years, we have prayed that God would heal our daughter from her disabilities, but today, we are still clinging to the incline. We want our summit moment where we can proclaim the answered prayer. But most of our days are lived on the path of unanswered prayer, hoping we do not tumble down the mountain in a nosedive plunge.


Even Jesus did not get the answer he may have wanted to hear.


The Garden of Gethsemane was at the base of the Mount of Olives. It was in this place that Jesus wrestled with the reality of what He was about to do on the cross. He asked God three times, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).


The cup was not removed. And yet Jesus asked anyway.


Jesus knew the reality of the task ahead of Him. Although He asked for this suffering to be removed, his hope was not in His rescue. God answered Jesus’s request by strengthening Him for the task. An angel from heaven appeared to Jesus and strengthened him in his agony (Luke 22:43). His strength came through the form of a relationship. God sent Jesus encouraging help so that He did not climb the mountain of Golgotha alone.


On our own cross-carrying climbs, we may have obvious (and not so obvious) angels strengthening us on our climb. But for those who know Jesus, we have a relationship that empowers us to take our next step. A relationship with Jesus changes our hope and our realities. For our worldly hopes will be replaced by eternal hopes. Our reality will be in the world that God promises to redeem. Our honest dependence on a loving Father will be our steady harness on this climb.


The world has convinced us that the best view, and the only view, is from the summit. But the relationship of dependence is richest during the middle of the climb. It is when the crumbling rock is a mudslide that He gives our feet a place to stand. Our breathlessness is a reminder that we are created, dependent on the creator who gives us breath. When the relationship with our Creator becomes more important than the view, we have reached our summit indeed.


On that day in Hawaii, we did not make it to the summit of the mountain. But our Angel hung in there, crying and laughing with us, ensuring us that we were complete. She gave us the strength to keep pushing. We are not able to overcome all things with the human will alone. Yet she gave us hope, because she kept us dependent on the creator of the mountain.


The view of our “summit” on the incline of the mountain was still incredible. The true adversity to overcome was ourselves. We were discouraged by our limitations. At that moment, we had a choice - to allow our hurt to become resentful or meaningful. By the grace of God, we chose to focus on how far we had come. We looked backwards and saw the imprint of the wheels that were dragged through impossible obstacles. We saw the merciful rocks where we had sat and rested. And we saw how much higher up we were than the base of the mountain.


We thanked God for seeing us and not forgetting us. Our summit was a relationship of trust with our Creator from years of sanded-down pride. And in that sweet moment of defeat and dependence, we were closer to the heavens than when we started our journey.


The true summit indeed.




1 Comment


Angela Carmell Hendrick
Angela Carmell Hendrick
Jul 01, 2023

May you and your loved ones be blessed with awareness of God’s constancy and nearness. This is a summit that many do not ever realize despite all the other summits they have achieved. I love you, Ra!

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