“Don’t worry. You’re going to have an 8 pound baby girl.” She gave me a hug as she told me these words. I was 6 weeks pregnant last October and had asked her to pray for me because I was afraid of another miscarriage…
… 5 weeks later I miscarried that baby.
What in the world do you do with that?
Not only was my world shattered because I had just lost a baby for the 2nd time, but for some time I also lost part of my relationship with God because I felt like God had lied to me. I wasn’t sure whether I could trust anything the Bible or other people said about God…
I get it that this woman who gave me that prophesy did not hear correctly from God about that baby. And I don’t fault her- none of us hear perfectly from God this side of heaven. But this question stayed buried like a splinter lodging itself deep in my heart.
Thankfully, I circled back around to this question. And listening to this sermon by John Piper brought a tremendous amount of healing and clarity to my heart:
He directly addresses how to handle when someone gives you a prophecy that does not come true.
The boiled-down short answer is that we need a category of “fallible, Spirit-prompted prophecy” that is separate from “the inerrant word of God.” In Piper’s words: “Prophecy is prompted and sustained by the Spirit and yet does not carry intrinsic, divine authority.” By “does not carry intrinsic divine authority” he means it is not the same as the Bible that we can always trust as true and to be the direct words of God.
His example that made a lot of sense to me was comparing prophets and teachers: we have teachers who are Spirit sustained and gifted, and yet we recognize that what they say is fallible and not God’s words unless they are directly quoting scripture. (And even then, it can be misapplied.) In the same way, even though prophecy seems more mysterious, as if it should be coming directly from the mouth of God, it is coming through people who are fallible.
So if we receive a prophecy from someone that does not come true, we can conclude either that the prophet was incorrect, or we need to wait a bit longer for the prophecy to be fulfilled. We should never conclude that God is lying to us.
The Bible tells us to not despise prophecy. That’s hard for me, after my experience. But I need to follow the Bible, because it always proves to be true. We don’t have to say that all prophecy is terrible, just because there are prophets who make mistakes. Just like we don’t throw out listening to all teaching/preaching because there are bad teachers.
Instead, we should carefully pray about prophecies and compare them with scripture. (Which is also what we should do with teaching we receive or anything written on a blog.) 🙂
And for the record, my dad told me these same things shortly after that miscarriage, when I had asked him about the prophecy I was given. But I was too deep in grief to really hear or accept what he said at that time. So a word of encouragement to those who are walking with a friend who is in pain: be there for them, and keep lovingly speaking truth to your friend, even if they don’t seem to get it or accept it.
And my plea to everyone… please, please, please, be extremely careful when prophesying to someone about babies, or marriage, or life/death situations.
Of course, this post is just scratching the surface on the topic of prophecy. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
“19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-24