It seems so many are discouraged right now. There is so much disappointment and darkness in the lives of those we care about.
Those of us who are believers have prayed…and prayed and prayed. Some of our prayers seemingly have gone unanswered. Some of those unanswered prayers are final…very final. There is no going back. There is no possible way for our specific prayer to be answered. Maybe there was a divorce, or a death. We prayed so hard for it all to look so different. God would surely have been glorified, had it not ended this way and… “I was on God’s side in this!”
Praying for marriage is being on God’s side…praying for kids to be strong in the LORD and “not skip a beat” is being on God’s side!
But…in view of divorce, untimely death and extremely wayward children, God did not answer our prayers…did He!
Look at this verse: Proverbs 16:3 “Depend on the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”
Really? You might be saying, “I prayed for direction, made the choices and it all turned out terribly!”
“All of these prayers, seemingly going unanswered and I am supposed to believe that verse? I was depending on God for my marriage, my direction, my career, my child…my loved-one’s life and look how it has ended?”
Has “it” ended?
I read that verse with you and me in mind and thought about Paul, David, Joseph, Moses and the others. What terrible experiences they all had! Yet…they prayed hard and walked by faith! They believed God. They often came into His presence with thanksgiving, just as God has asked us to do. But their lives and hopes and dreams did not all turn out the way they believed and planned. Paul was imprisoned and killed for his faith, David had many losses, Moses didn’t get to go into the Promised Land, Joseph followed God all the way through and was imprisoned and wrongly accused. Early in his life, he was left for dead in an abandoned well by his own brothers!
Yet…God moved and provided and protected in ways these men had no idea were even needed, in order to fulfill His broader plan.
During the excruciating times, we may not feel thankful or like we have the even the tiniest bit of faith to even want to pray. But once we obey His loving instructions and choose to come into His presence with thanksgiving, He will always, always encourage us…if we will accept His encouragement (and correction).
Intentionally choosing to pray and to be thankful when we do, recalculates our feeling that He is not on our side. It recalculates the way we pray, because we realize how He has blessed us, despite the hard things that have happened or are happening right now.
We are such a broken people, who live in a very broken world. But our God is the Healer and Redeemer and is ever at work in us and for us, even when we barely believe that He is. Even when we forget that the mess we are staring at is not the finished product! The picture is bigger than what we see…
His ways are higher than our ways…and so much broader than we can imagine. We are all a stubborn and stiff-necked people. We want to change and cannot seem to find a way, or maybe we don’t realize we need to change.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God knows that our character is way more important than our comfort. From what I can tell, it takes some struggles to build in all of the ways we want and need to be truly authentic and filled with grace and empathy and love.
We are ever in the making…He loves us enough to allow us some deep wounds. When He does, our roots grow even deeper into Him. Our foundation in Him becomes stronger, and our structure more sound.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.