Do you ever have one of those weeks where it seems like the only news you hear is bad? That was last week for me, not personally but for friends, church family and loved ones. That week brought news of deaths, cancer diagnoses, bad medical reports, unknown health issues and broken homes. It was one of those weeks where my prayer time was filled more with “Dear Lord, I don’t know” than anything else. My prayer journal has been nothing but bullet points of names and needs because I literally couldn’t think of what to say about many of these situations because they seem so insurmountable.
Let’s all be frank here. At times the world sucks! Like majorly and Christ warned us of this in John 16:33. (“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart. I have overcome the world.”) We have free will which is what brought sin into the world but also allows us to love the Lord (or deny him) and to repent (or continue sinning). We are not robots and therefore we have choices but unfortunately we live in a fallen and broken world which means it is filled with bad choices, sickness and death.
At this point let me say, I love prayer. Prayer is such a beautiful thing because God doesn’t require perfection. Remember He asks us to be like little children when we come to Him. Have you ever heard a child pray or talk to a parent they love and trust? It’s so precious because they’re so unimpeded by the things that often hold us back as adults. They just kind of throw everything out with the expectation that you will listen and care. That’s how God wants us to approach His throne. Not concerned about wording things perfectly or sounding grand...just honest.
However, if you are expecting the Lord to work everything out the way you want just because you ask Him to, you are looking at the wrong belief system. There are plenty of religions out there that will promise good times if you just behave properly or say the right prayers or perform the right tasks and you know for a while, I bet they do make you feel better but the truth is that life still happens. The world is still broken even when you do your part so thinking you can out work sin and fallenness is crazy! Also, if you believe the Lord owes you an explanation for why every bad moment of your life has happened then you are going to struggle. Sometimes we can’t understand with our tiny minds and sometimes we don’t see the big picture and sometimes we don’t NEED to know but regardless it is incredible that we think the Lord of the universe owes us an explanation.
Here’s the good news...The Lord knows we will face struggles and He knows that we won’t necessarily understand those struggles this side of heaven. Remember, He faced struggles on this earth too. Abandonment, betrayal, pain, heartache and death. He understands suffering and he provides hope and guidance in His word and in our daily life. In fact, one morning last week, in the midst of my worrying, the Lord spoke directly into my concerns. I went to bed one night so burdened for those around me and as I got my stuff together for my quiet time the next morning I was talking with the Lord about my concerns. Imagine my surprise when I opened my morning devotional and found this beginning line, “So many things can trouble our hearts.” The devotional ended up being about “heart troublers”. As author Jan Dravecky discussed dealing with hard times and faith she said, “Even when I couldn’t feel him, even when I couldn’t sense him, even when I wasn’t holding on to him anymore, God worked on my behalf.”
Now, reading this just filled me with hope and blew my mind because for days I had been humming the song we sang last Sunday, “Waymaker”. There is such amazing truth in this song but the part I had stuck on repeat was “Even when I don’t see it, You’re working. Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working. You never stop. You never stop working. You never stop. You never stop working.” How cool is that? The Lord was giving me His truth before I even knew I needed it. I don’t know why I’m always surprised when the Lord does great things or provides comfort and help. He promises this and yet every time I’m blown away. He really is a good Father and because He is always reminding me of this, I wasn’t surprised this Sunday when my pastor spoke on the first chapter of Habakkuk and why it’s okay to ask God why in the hard times of life but why you may never understand. (The Lord really likes to drive home a point with me through repetition because I’m hard headed.)
In the end, He doesn’t promise that life is working out the way you think it should or that you will understand everything or even want to accept it. I know a family who lost a child to cancer and yes, their story has been used to magnify God’s glory and to minister to others but I can’t imagine that this is a life they would choose. Their faith and trust in the Lord is incredible but that doesn’t mean that logically it makes sense or that they don’t long to have their child back. The Lord is okay with you crying and questioning and even screaming. Personally, the injustices of this world are hard for me to process but that is part of faith. I’m not God. I don’t see the whole picture and I’m not going to understand every hardship and trial I see but on those seemingly insurmountable days I can climb in my Father’s lap and cry and He will hold me just as He promises.