If you’ve been a Christ-follower for any amount of time, you’ve probably jokingly uttered a phrase similar to this: “I know better than to pray for patience!” –Or for more faith. Or humility. Or courage.
I know I have.
When I was in college, in the journal of my stressed-out sophomore self, I wrote these words: “Lord, help me not have to be in control.” Less than a month later, I found myself fighting for my life in the hospital after my colon spontaneously ruptured.
Joni Eareckson Tada prayed this prayer her senior year of high school, as she struggled in her walk with God: “Oh, God, do something in my life, just do something. I don’t care what happens, but I don’t like being miserable!” This was just weeks before her diving accident, more than 50 years ago, that left her a quadriplegic. For decades, she has been a prolific Christian author, speaker and tireless advocate for those with disabilities through her Joni and Friends ministry.
Tada writes in her books that in the early years following the accident, she was angry with God for this seemingly horrific answer to her prayer, one she remembered vividly. “I will never trust You with another prayer again!” she thought.
In our finite reasoning, it’s scary to release the results of our bold prayers to God – our sincere, heartfelt, impassioned pleas for God to do something. We have a desired path of how we think that prayer should work out, but we forget too easily that our path follows our Savior and it will often involve suffering.
C.S. Lewis said this: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
A Care-full, Caring God
As we pray these fervent, scary prayers to an all-powerful God, we need to remember that He is not careless with us. He is not randomly doling out lessons from Heaven to see if you’ll pass or fail. He’s not spitefully repaying you for that sin from five years ago. He is not taking lightly your spiritual growth, your testimony or His glory.
We can look to Scripture again and again for reassurance of God’s loving care for his children.
He knows our frame, He remembers we are dust – and offers us compassion.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14
He guards us as a Good Shepherd – and protects us.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15
He cares for us as a Loving Father – and provides for us.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26
He sacrifices as a Faithful Friend – laying down His life for ours.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
He thinks of us constantly – we are not forgotten.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. Psalm 139:17-18a
It is not in God’s character to be careless. We are His treasured children, bought with the priceless blood of Jesus.
Can God be Trusted?
We are so fearful of the pruning – the uncomfortable work of a good, loving Gardener (John 15) – that we hold tightly to our health and happiness over His shaping of our lives and character. We joke uncomfortably about God’s answers to our heart’s cry, but what is the remedy to our fear of the unknown – and possibly unwanted – answers?
In my experience, two practices have helped pave the path of deeper trust even on a road filled with potholes and scary turns.
Diving into the character of God always resets the heart from “what if” to “He is.” I have to remember that God is not like me. He knows my weak frame and my fragile faith, yet He meets me with compassion, rest and reassurance. The proof of God’s love is on the Cross, we need not constantly search for it in our circumstances. God is oh-so-careful with us – and reminding ourselves of that can reassure us that we are in good hands.Diving into the character of God always resets the heart from “what if” to “He is.” Click To Tweet
Remembering God’s Past Faithfulness with Gratitude
I would not have chosen to be hospitalized at age 20 for six months, endure multiple painful surgeries, and miss out on more than a semester of college life. Honestly, I was pretty mad about it the entire time. As painful as that was, it was preparation for what was to come 13 years later – my Vascular EDS diagnosis that transformed our carefree life to one with fragile tissues and scary unknowns.
God, in His kindness, used that season in my 20-year-old self to cultivate a deeper trust in Him when life is unpredictable. I can recount His faithfulness in so many ways – preserving my life, getting me to bigger hospitals at critical times, and surrounding our family with loving service from others.
In hard seasons, gratitude is a sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15 says: Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. The previous verses talk of Christ’s suffering on the cross and how we are to go with HIm and bear the reproach He endured. Suffering and sacrifice of praise are related.
As Psalm 103 reminds us to not forget all His benefits. We can start small. “Thank you, Lord, that I slept last night.” “Thank you for that loving text I received.” “Thank you, God, that you sustained me during that painful season – beyond my own abilities to endure.” “Thank you, God, for loving me enough to send Christ to endure suffering, so I have a Savior who understands my pain and for providing an eternity to come with no more tears or pain.”
Friends, may we not be afraid to take our true heart’s prayers to our careful Father. Consider these questions as you cultivate trust in a good God today:
- Have you ever been hesitant to pray a bold prayer to God, afraid of the outcome? What was it?
- What is one characteristic of God you can cling to from the verses above (or find you own from Scripture)?
- How can you offer a sacrifice of praise even if an answered prayer wasn’t what you expected?
Each Monday, I plan to offer you a “Monday Goodness” devotional. I pray it will encourage you to focus on God’s goodness, His Word, and truths to help you cling to Him in life’s impossible. You can find past Monday Goodness devotionals here.
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