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Posts tagged ‘Trusting God without answers’

How to Pray When Life Falls Apart

SOURCE:  Vaneetha Rendall Risner/The Gospel Coalition

In the midst of broken dreams and riveting pain, how should we pray?

Should we pray for healing and deliverance, believing that we just need to ask, because God can do anything? Or should we relinquish our desires to God, trusting that even in our anguish he has the perfect plan for us?

Yes.

When life falls apart, God invites us to do both.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced unimaginable suffering. Sweating drops of blood, he fell to the ground and prayed: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).

Jesus, in his agony, is teaching us by example how to pray when we’re desperate.

Abba, Father

Jesus doesn’t begin with, “Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth.” Of course, God is Lord of all and deserves honor and reverence. But Jesus chooses a term of endearment: “Abba.” Abba is an intimate, personal term for a father. Jesus is asking his Father to do something for him.

In a similar way, I need to draw near to God in my pain. He’s the Almighty Lord, but he’s also my Abba Father (Rom. 8:15). I need to approach him as such.

Nothing Too Difficult

Jesus knows God can do anything. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. All things are his servants. Nothing is impossible with him.

While I know those Scripture verses by heart too, I often functionally doubt God’s ability to change my situation. I scan my circumstances and assume things will continue as they are. Even as I’m praying, I don’t look for miraculous answers; my prayers become rote recitations of requests more than earnest petitions of faith.

But in Gethsemane, Jesus knows his Father can grant his request. God gives life to the dead and summons into being things that don’t exist.

And I need to remember his limitless power when my situation looks insurmountable.

Remove This Cup

The cup Jesus asks God to remove isn’t mere physical suffering. Disciples and martyrs through the ages have faced physical pain without fear. Jesus is anguished over suffering that’s infinitely deeper. He is facing the terrifying fury of God’s wrath over our sin. And he’s facing that wrath alone, with no comfort from above.

Jesus knows God can change this horrifying situation. So he asks. He wants God to remove the very suffering he was sent to bear, the suffering he willingly came for, the suffering that would secure salvation for his people. Jesus wasn’t coerced onto the cross. He lay down his life of his own accord (John 10:18).

But now Jesus is asking if there is another way—any other way—for God to accomplish his purposes.

So many times I filter my requests. Should I ask God to relieve my suffering when I know he can use it? Is it okay to ask for healing, or is that presumptuous? Should I not ask for anything and just accept what I’ve been given? That posture seems more holy.

Yet, Jesus asks God to remove the cup.

If Jesus can ask, I can too. It’s appropriate to ask God to remove my suffering, change my situation, keep me from further pain. He longs to give me good gifts. I’ve begged God to heal friends, save family members, and give clarity, and he has answered “yes.” But I’ve also pleaded with God to save my dying son, heal my escalating disease, and bring back my husband, and he said “no.” So even though I don’t know how he will answer, my Father still bids me to earnestly petition him for the things I desire.

Not My Will, But Yours

Jesus finally relinquishes his will to God’s. When denied his desire, Jesus accepts the decision completely. He stumbles to his execution without murmur or complaint.

This relinquishment isn’t easy for me. When I keep God at a distance, I can stay detached without expectations. But if I draw near to him and truly believe he can change the situation, I can start to clutch the outcome I want. I may verbalize “Your will be done,” but I’m whiteknuckling my own will.

God often has to pry my fingers off my desired outcome. Though I’ve felt devastated by his “no’s,” as I submit to his will—often with disappointment and tears—he assures me he’s working for my good. I see only part of the picture. He has a purpose in his denials.

The Father said “no” to the Son. And that “no” brought about the greatest good in all of history.

God is not capricious. If he says “no” to our requests he has a reason, perhaps 10,000. We may never know the reasons in this life, but one day we’ll see them all. For now, we must trust that his refusals are always his mercies to us.

Run to Your Father

And now as we wait, still struggling to make sense of the storms in our lives, let us pray as our Savior did. Let us draw near to God, believe he can change our situation, boldly ask him for what we need, and submit our will to his.

Our Father’s plans are always perfect. They will always be for our good and his glory.

Receiving Direction without Doubt

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by InTouch Ministries/Charles Stanley

[Based on Psalm 25:8-9]

God wants us to make right decisions, which means choices that align with His will. He has promised to give us instruction and direction so we’ll know how to proceed (Ps. 32:8).

One way to discover the Lord’s will is by following  [this pattern] — First, make sure you have a clean heart, clear mind, surrendered will, and patient spirit. Then, add these steps: praying persistently, trusting God’s promises, and receiving His peace.

Although we all want quick answers from the Lord, Scripture tells us to pray tirelessly, without giving up. I remember praying daily for six months before I received a response about one need. During this time, the Lord showed me that He’d tried to give direction earlier, but I hadn’t listened. Fear of failure had been my stumbling block. Once I surrendered my fear, He gave instructions and empowered me to obey. When we persist in prayer, God has the opportunity to draw us closer to Him and prepare us to hear His response.

Knowing and trusting in God’s promises will lift us above our doubts into a place of quiet rest. We may not have an answer yet, but as we wait on Him with hopeful expectation, we’ll experience His peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

Scripture urges us to be persistent in prayer, trust in God’s promises, and let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts (Col. 3:15). Doing so will help us find our way past confusion and receive His clear direction without doubting. Discovering Gods will is worth every effort we make and any time spent waiting.

Why does God allow bad things?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

“Who sinned, this man or his parents?” the disciples asked Jesus when they saw a man who had been blind his entire life (John 9:1). They wanted to know why God allowed this terrible affliction.

This is the same thought Job’s friends had when they saw Job suffering through the loss of his children, his prosperity, and his health. “Job what did you do?” How have you sinned?” You must have angered God in some way,” they echoed.

As a counselor and coach, I find people ask God the why question when they face the big difficulties of life like blindness, a rebellious child or the death of a marriage. But they also ask God why with the minor irritants of daily life like when they burn dinner just before company arrives or they can’t find their car keys or cell phone when they have an important appointment to keep. We want to know why God? Why this? Why now?

We all want to understand why bad, inconvenient, or troublesome things happen to people don’t’ we? If we could know why, then maybe we can change or do something to prevent those bad things from happening to us.

Jesus answered his disciples’ question by telling them it’s not about who sinned. We’re all sinners. Rather, he told his disciples that in this situation, the man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

At first glance, Jesus’ answer sounds unfair, harsh. Why was this man singled out for affliction so God could display his power? No one would willingly sign up for that. You’re right, and it’s good God doesn’t ask our permission because most of us would say “No thanks.”

One of the most influential women in my life has been Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed in a diving accident when she was only 17 years old. I have followed her story, read her books and listened to her speak since I was in college over 30 years ago.

God uses Joni’s life to show me, as well as thousands of others, the reality of Christ’s mercy, love, and grace. It’s not too hard to praise God when everything in your life is going well. It’s another story to continue to praise God and give him thanks when your life falls apart. That gets people’s attention, and they sit up and take notice. What is the secret to this person’s joy and peace? It’s not natural. That’s right. It’s God.

There are only certain individuals whom God trusts with such deep suffering. Joni is one of them. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was another. Spurgeon, a renowned preacher, prolific author and beloved pastor during the 1800s, battled depression throughout his life. He was refreshingly honest with his struggle and never pretended he didn’t feel what he felt. Yet he always found hope in looking for God’s purposes in it. He wrote,

“Any fool can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws

inspiration from it; when wealth rolls in abundance around him

any man can sing to the praise of a God who gives a plenteous

harvest…It is not natural to sing in trouble…Songs in the night

come only from God; they are not in the power of man.”

Perhaps you are one like Joni or Spurgeon, whom God trusts with his severe mercy. If so, our world desperately needs to see Jesus in you.

For the rest of us, how might God want his works to be displayed in us in the midst of our inconvenience or daily disappointments? When we’re aggravated waiting in a long line with a clerk who isn’t moving fast enough for us, how might we move beyond thinking only about how we feel or what we’re not able to do and, in that moment, express the fruit of the spirit like love, or patience or self-control?

Do you think that God might also arrange or allow the minor afflictions of life so that the works of God might be displayed in us to a world so desperate to see him?

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