Perhaps this year, this month, this week, you’ve:
Lost a loved one or a friend.
Been fired or laid off.
Come down with an illness.
Battled depression that know one knows about…or at least no one seems to understand.
Fought with your spouse more times than you can count.
Feared you wouldn’t be able to pay the rent, and you and your kids would end up on the street.
Wondered if your loved one will ever be healed in this life.
Wondered if your mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, or grandchild will ever be saved. Will ever find hope, peace, joy, and everlasting life in Jesus.
You keep praying. You keep talking to God, but…nothing.
“To think of our prayers as just ‘causes’ would suggest that the whole importance of petitionary prayer lay in the achievement of the thing asked for. But really, for our spiritual life as a whole, the ‘being taken into account,’ or ‘considered,’ matters more than the being granted. Religious people don’t talk about the ‘results’ of prayer; they talk of its being ‘answered’ or ‘heard’…. We can bear to be refused but not to be ignored. In other words, our faith can survive many refusals if they really are refusals and not mere disregards. The apparent stone will be bread to us if we believe that a Father’s hand put it into ours, in mercy or in justice or even in rebuke.”
If you’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation, then you have a direct line to Him. Christ’s blood makes it so that you are clean in God’s eyes and can come before His throne. With anything.
He hears what you’re saying to Him. He is listening.
We can bear to be refused but not to be ignored.
Perhaps you are being denied – at least for now – the thing for which you are asking.
If He can do anything, and wants what’s best for His children, why would He allow such pain? What’s the purpose, meaning, or sense in that?
What can be accomplished in illness? Or loneliness? Poverty? Disappointment?
These afflictions seem like such a waste of time.
What a useless life.
What good are those who are stuck in nursing homes and can’t “get out anywhere”?
The poorest of us, who live on the streets?
The chronically ill?
Yet sometimes, it is “the least of us” who wield the strongest (yet most invisible) weapons. Those of us who are believed to be weak are simply being “hidden away” in places where we can do our work in secret.
Strategic intelligence typically doesn’t grace the public eye.
Prayer is one of the most powerful and underestimated weapons in our arsenal.
And often, those who are locked away in some small corner of the earth are those most likely (or even available) to devote their time to prayer – seeking God – pleading on behalf of others and bringing every circumstance before Him.
You were assigned to be where you are for a reason. You were given the post of the “outcast” or “sick” or “poor”, because you have special (though likely unseen) work to do there. And God will make you strong enough for the post to which He has called you.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians
Sometimes, He responds with “Yes”. Sometimes, He says “Wait” or “Not yet”. And sometimes, the answer is “No.”
He hears you, He loves you, and He cares for you, and the only reason He would say “no” or “not yet” is if there is a greater purpose in the place you’re in now than in the place in which you want to be.
God’s Unsearchable Mind
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? – Romans
My mom’s father passed away when she was twelve.
A child – just entering her teens – losing her father (who meant and was everything to her). What was the good in that?
It hurt. So, so much.
What was God thinking? What could He possibly be doing?
Yet this loss eventually resulted in my mom, her mom (my grandma 🙂 ), and my mom’s siblings all coming to know Jesus.
Had their world not been shaken, they may have continued to look to their husband/father as their source for joy, peace, love, fulfillment, and validation.
Does the pain of that loss still hurt? Yes. Even today, it does. My mom and relatives still suffer from the sting of it from time to time, though the blow may be softened, when compared to the initial strike.
Sometimes, the pain lasts throughout our lives.
Time heals wounds and diminishes the pain. But it cannot erase it altogether.
As they say, recovering from loss is much like learning to live with an amputation. You heal, but you’re never the same.
Pain never comes without purpose, however.
From the death of her father, my mom – and others – found eternal life.
My mom went on to share the good news with other relatives and friends, some of whom also found life.
And on a much smaller scale, in my chronic illness, I have learned so many things.
Things that, perhaps, I couldn’t have learned – or learned as well – had I been physically well (and therefore, also likely “busy”).
In my journey through illness, I’ve gained peace and strength in circumstances that used to frighten or intimidate me, gained more insight into myself, found greater boldness, learned some practical skills or tips, learned more about why I’m sick and what to do about it, rediscovered my emotional self (which I had been stuffing and suppressing for a while), and spent more time with God.
All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. – J. R. R. Tolkien
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