Philippians 1:6b (NIV) 6 … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
9 This is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.
*12 Now I want you to know, sisters, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
I love praying Scripture over family and friends. Verse 9 is a great one to be praying for my family right now. This is a painful time.
*Verse 12 has a note I have penciled in my Bible that says, “What happens to each of us can serve to advance the gospel…or simply be destructive – our choice.”
That note was written prior to the pain and seeming destruction the enemy is now unleashing on our family. Because the pain is so intense and life altering, it is understandable that for a while our precious family would struggle to grasp how these horrifying events could possibly serve any purpose, let alone advance the gospel. It hurts so badly, that there are moments it is hard not to read a Scripture like this and think, “Who cares if it advances the gospel?” Some have dared say, “How could the God I have believed in allow this?” Or “Where was He?” And “Where is He?”
Psychology and God tell us that it is okay to express how we feel. It is healthy. When something terrible happens to someone we cherish we are in shock. Obviously, the length and intensity of grief and anger are going to be different for each person involved.
But I am wondering when we cross the line. When does, our “working through”, our anger, our demand for answers, go past normal and healthy to rebellion…to bitterness. What a delicate balance that only God can give! How does one pray to a God he or she no longer trusts…yet wants to trust?
Even with deeply shaken trust (faith), it is absolutely imperative that we press through and pray. Maybe our prayer can only be, “Lord, I don’t know what to believe anymore. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) That is not rebellion. That is honest prayer through which God can work.
We are always, always influencing someone around us. God has placed the people in our sphere that we are meant to influence…to touch in ways that then enable them to handle their own present and future pain.
Even this, our most unbearable pain, can slowly paint a picture of Christ’s compassion and purpose, as we walk through by leaning into Him. Even this can strengthen our faith, resolve and endurance. But I choose. You choose!
If we choose to walk forward praying for strength…asking for faith…pleading for purpose and dropping our desperate demands, our lives will make the difference on this planet that God has planned from the beginning. We will gain strength and peace and even a good measure of understanding, despite our unanswered questions.
God, make me bold enough to express my pain honestly and brave enough to walk in faith through it to the other side. Lord, enable each of us to one day say with confidence, “This…yes even this Lord, is serving to strengthen my faith and advance the gospel in a way that is changing my life and breaking the chains for the generations to come.”