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Posts tagged ‘Unanswered prayer’

Learning To Wait: Why God Desires Perseverance in Prayer

Source:  Pray Magazine/Jeanne Zornes

Some of the pages in my prayer notebook were so old they were tattered. Many of the requests had notations in the “God’s answer” column, but some did not. One man was still gripped by alcoholism, a young woman was persisting in a relationship with a non-Christian man, and a couple was still in serious debt and spurning Christian financial counsel.

Why pray anymore? I wondered.

And almost before the question came out I recalled the answer: because God has commanded persevering prayer. His answer may not come within our timetable; but when the free will of people is involved, prayer is needed for them as well as for our own attitude toward the situation.

Biblical Examples of Perseverance

A dramatic illustration of persevering prayer comes from the story of Elijah’s conflict on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. The lesson I’m referring to doesn’t come from Elijah’s prayer for heaven’s fire to consume his waterlogged sacrifice, as you might expect. It comes after that, in the guise of an unnamed, weary servant who stayed by Elijah after the crowds had disappeared.

Kneeling, his face between his knees, Elijah began praying for rain. Suddenly he called out to the servant to go up the trail and look toward the sea. Again and again—six times—he ordered the servant up the parched, rocky path.

The seventh request came. His patience stretched to the quitting point, the servant once more plodded up the path, expecting to see nothing new. But this time a cloud as small as a man’s hand appeared in a section of sky. Rain was coming—a fast, furious rain to end the years of drought. It took seven trips before the servant got a glimpse of answered prayer. So often in our own prayer lives we’re like that servant. Our natural tendency is to go up the path once and demand that the answer be delivered. We resist going back again.Luke 11:5–8 records Jesus’ parable of the man caught off guard late at night by surprise guests and with nothing to feed them. Going to his neighbor for bread, he knocked on the door until the exasperated neighbor opened it and gave him what he needed.

Immediately, Jesus eased into the spiritual application of persistence: ask, seek, knock (Lk. 11:9–10). The Greek grammar of these words translates as keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Persistent requests will reach the ears of the Father.

Another parable, at the beginning of Luke 18, concerns a widow who kept showing up in court to plead her case. The godless judge, tired of her continual pleas, finally decided her case and restored justice to her.

Delayed Responses to Prayer

Although God the Father is an obvious contrast to the godless judge, they have something in common: the choice to delay a response. The judge delayed settling the widow’s case out of selfish indifference. God often delays His response out of love, as He works all things together for good.

One of those “things” that needs to be worked out is the attitude of the one praying. God doesn’t want whiny, demanding prayers. He wants humble and earnest asking, seeking, knocking. The very act of persisting in prayer can make us more worthy of His answer. We’ll learn to praise Him as sovereign Lord, not regard Him as a divine vending machine.

Reasons to Wait

Delayed answers to prayer may also open our eyes to the reasons we’re waiting.  Here are some of them:

We may need to deal with parts of our lives that are displeasing to the Lord.   The Bible records more than 30 times that God didn’t answer someone’s prayer; most were due to sin.

Saul’s prayers were blocked by disobedience. He wrongfully took charge of the battle offering (1 Samuel 15) and sought counsel from a medium(1 Samuel 28). His successor, King David, declared: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps. 66:18).

Jesus said you shouldn’t pray if you have an unresolved conflict with someone (Mk. 11:25).James 4:3 names self-indulgence as a barrier: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Husbands who dishonor their wives (and conversely, wives who dishonor their husbands) will be hindered in prayer (1 Pet. 3:7).

God may want to see growth in us before He answers.   The prophet Habakkuk couldn’t understand why God was punishing His people by allowing a pagan nation to conquer them. But after listening to God declare His holiness and justice, Habakkuk would admit growth in his spiritual perspective. He said, essentially, “You’re in control, Lord. Even though the world is falling apart, I will still rejoice in You” (see Habakkuk 3).

I have several “30-ish” friends who long for a life’s mate. Because I didn’t marry until age 34, I can understand their feelings. But I know from my own experience that more growth will make them more worthy of the mate they desire. My friends want godly mates, but some of them have spiritual walks that are like a baby’s toddling. They come to church to meet people, not to meet Jesus. God may be waiting until they’ve focused on their relationship with Him before He allows a relationship with another person.

God may delay or say “no” in order to engineer a total answer.   For hundreds of years the Israelites prayed for their Messiah, but He came only when it was in the “fullness of time.”

Corrie ten Boom prayed that her sister would be healed at Ravensbruck, but her sister died instead. When Corrie was later released, she learned that her sister, had she lived, would have had to remain in the concentration camp without her. “I have praised and thanked my Lord for that unanswered prayer,” she said. “Just imagine how it would have been if she had been healed and would have had to stay in the hell of Ravensbruck without me. I would have returned to my homeland tormented night and day by the consciousness of her suffering. I saw God’s side of the embroidery.” In this case, God’s “no” answer about Corrie’s sister was a “yes” answer to Corrie’s resulting ministry of grace and forgiveness worldwide.

God may delay His answer to teach us the wisdom of His silence.   Isaiah 55:8 says: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” God’s middle name is “mystery” and His nature is wisdom. Sometimes we may not know the outcome of an unanswered prayer until we set foot in heaven. Then we’ll know that it was answered, but in ways we didn’t understand.Martin Luther is credited with saying, “I have held many things in my hands, and lost them all. But whatever I put in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

This is the picture of prevailing prayer. By putting our desires in His hands, we’ll possess His blessings. And while the path up Prayer Mountain may be steep and tiring, it’s often God’s way of strengthening us to receive His answer.

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Your Healing Is Coming: Perhaps Sooner, Perhaps Later

When God Doesn’t Heal: How do you respond when prayers for healing seem to be ignored?

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Sheridan Voysey

“I’ve been in the church for 20 years, but in just a few minutes of prayer my decade-long marriage problem has been healed,” Patricia told me. “Why didn’t this happen sooner?”

Patricia had just returned from a conference on prayer and healing. Going forward during one of the altar calls, she received prayer from a member of the conference team who asked God to release her from past relational sins. The results were powerful. After those few minutes of focused prayer, Pat felt she’d been released into new intimacy with her husband. The two of them are now starting their relationship “from scratch” with long talks and regular date nights. As a reunited couple, Pat and her husband even pray for others’ wholeness.

Patricia’s newfound freedom raised questions. For years she had prayed faithfully with others, sought godly counsel, and received marriage counseling from professionals. Why had God waited so long to answer? And why was it this person’s prayer that succeeded?

The mystery over the miraculous remains. One infertile couple conceives while another remains in grief. One cancer patient receives the all-clear while another continues to suffer. When miraculous relief does come, the rejoicing of the blessed leads to mourning for the unchanged as they ask, Why hasn’t God healed me like He healed her?

Why God heals some and not others has perplexed His people throughout history. I continue to be baffled by it, and as much as I’d like to offer an answer, I cannot. But through listening to stories of those who seek healing, I have noticed three principles about how we might respond while we wait and pray. The first came from a personal wrestle of faith.

Responsible Change

My wife and I were completing a trip across Australia and had begun the three-day drive back to Brisbane, our home city. The trip had been filled with excitement. I had met with a Christian radio station and agreed to join them as their morning announcer. The prospect meant leaving family and friends within weeks to live thousands of miles away. It was a giant move, but I marveled at how God had opened a door to full-time Christian broadcasting—a calling I’d felt for years.

Then, on that drive back, I felt a strange itching in my throat. At first I thought it was due to thirst. Throughout the interstate trek, I drank often but found no relief. At home, I returned to the radio station where I worked and settled into my four-hour show. About halfway through the shift, it happened. Midsentence, with thousands listening, my voice broke. As I gasped and coughed, I reached in panic for the button that played the commercials. I struggled through the rest of the show, thoroughly embarrassed and fearful I’d done irreversible damage.

In the weeks that followed, speaking above a whisper was painful. My voice would crack like a pubescent teenager’s when I reached a certain volume. I grew fearful and confused. I was about to travel to the other side of the earth (or so it felt) to do a job that required me to use my voice—a voice that now resembled a raspy wheeze. Was this God’s way of saying I was to stay in Brisbane? Was it the enemy trying to stop a season of fruitful ministry?

I began to pray for healing—long and often. I also saw a speech therapist every morning before driving to work and struggling through my four-hour show.

Desperation set in after weeks of pain. Tired, sore, and in anguish, I went to my study one night and opened my Bible to Psalm 77. The psalm’s deep pathos connected with my confused heart:

I cried out to God for help. . . . I stretched out untiring hands. . . . My soul refused to be comforted. . . . My spirit grew faint. . . . I was too troubled to speak. —vv. 1–4

My questions were intense. Without a voice, how could I do the ministry I felt called to? What else could I do? Was preaching also over for me?

I, a man who has shed tears perhaps three times in the last 10 years, began to cry. The sobs carried my pent-up emotions as watery prayers to God. Another prayer for healing, for the confusion to end, and then I went to bed.

Describing the following morning is difficult. A dramatic change had taken place. I was able to speak with more freedom and less pain. The improvement continued throughout the day (my voice normally deteriorated as the day wore on). My voice was still prone to fatigue and strain, but the threshold had lifted markedly. God had touched me.

My partial healing allowed me to work on-air, but my costly speech therapy continued—and here is where the lessons came. My therapist showed me that I’d been forcing my voice into an unnatural pitch. Unsatisfied with my God-given sound, I had been trying to use a deeper voice. I also hadn’t been doing warm-up exercises or drinking any water during an entire four-hour show. In short, for six years I had been abusing my voice.

The experience taught me a powerful lesson. Had God healed me when I first asked Him to, I would have continued my voice-destroying habits. Like feeding sugar to a child with rotten teeth, the healing would have harmed me in the long run. What loving father gives his children a stone when they’ve asked for bread, or a snake when they’ve asked for fish (Mt. 7:9–10)? Yet, sometimes without realizing it, we ask for the stone or the serpent when we pray for instant healing. God wants to provide solutions that will nourish and sustain, not shatter and sting.

The complete restoration of my voice required change: new speaking habits, silly-sounding vocal exercises, an acceptance of my natural tone and timbre. These changes took time and effort. In fact, it took a couple of years for my voice to return to its full strength.

Since then, when I pray for healing, I consider what part of the healing God may be calling me to. Is my lifestyle involved? Is my illness due to poor diet or exercise? Am I seeking a supernatural shortcut when God wants a character-building personality adjustment? When God doesn’t heal, it may be that He’s asking us to make some practical changes. But we are called to spiritual action as well.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. —Jas. 5:14–15

Seeking healing prayer takes humility. We become vulnerable, exposing ourselves to others. We have to wrestle with our sense of self-sufficiency. Some Christians (myself included) have needed the gentle nudge of God to take up this offer of healing prayer by church eldership. Yet this scripture makes it clear who is to do the asking. Will we respond?

Patient Waiting

Perhaps you’ve taken responsibility, made lifestyle changes, and called the elders to pray for you as Scripture teaches. Or perhaps your infirmity is beyond any lifestyle choice. Multiple sclerosis can strike at random, and someone paralyzed by a drunk driver’s actions has little to take responsibility for. What sustains us in these circumstances?

One man’s story has helped me see a second principle related to our journey toward healing: God has arranged for us all to be made whole—in His special timing.

In 1997, accountant David McKenzie’s life came to an abrupt halt when he was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND). This degenerative terminal illness affects the cells in the spinal cord that send messages to the body’s muscles. The muscles cease to respond as the neurons mysteriously die off, leaving patients increasingly paralyzed, affecting their ability to speak and reducing their capacity to swallow. Eventually, breathing stops and the darkness of death pervades. A slow and agonizing illness, MND has been dubbed the “thief of dignity” and is often used as an example by lobbyists for legalized euthanasia.

David was just 45 years old when the diagnosis came. He had a devoted wife and young family. When I spoke to him for a radio interview, he’d just “celebrated” his fifth anniversary since the diagnosis—two years longer than the doctor’s initial prognosis. Yet the effects of the disease were significant. By then he could not eat, get dressed, bathe, or go to the toilet without his wife’s assistance. When I telephoned, David propped the handset on a table so he could talk to me from his wheelchair. His voice in decay, he spoke as though his mouth were full of gravel.

David and I talked about a number of things, including the numbness he felt walking from the doctor’s office that day in 1997, and the fear and embarrassment victims feel throughout their wrestle with MND. We also talked about his quest for healing.

Like many suffering a chronic disease, David tried anything to find freedom. He experimented with wonder diets and special supplements. He considered the possibility that a curse had been put on him and wondered whether deliverance was required. Visiting Israel on a holiday, David was sprinkled with water from the River Jordan. He prayed at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, prayed again at the supposed site of Jesus’ crucifixion and while sailing on the Sea of Galilee. (The lack of results confirmed to David that should a miracle come, it would be through God’s power and not some geographical location.)

Some friends told David that if he just had faith, healing would come. On another occasion, he emailed a prayer request for healing to a well-known evangelist and healer. At a church meeting, a visiting minister foretold that David would be healed and would administer healing to others. While David acknowledges that he has experienced some emotional and spiritual healing through prayer, no physical change has come. He remains very ill.

Some, having gone through such experiences, would denounce God’s healing activity all together. David doesn’t. “I really don’t know what the future holds,” he told me. “Perhaps there is a cure, perhaps God will heal me miraculously, I don’t know. I’ve prayed for it, and there are hundreds of people who are praying for it. Some people have prayed every day since I was diagnosed.” David remains prayerful yet grounded in a certain hope. “I still dream of the future; there is some promise. But overall, I always take hope in the eternal life that I know will come my way.”

If we consider our lives as a pencil line on a page, our earthly years are quite brief, a momentary span in the larger time line of history (Jas. 4:13–15). For one person, physical healing may come at age 20, perhaps at age 40 for another. God may bring David’s healing at the 54-year point. Yet, as others blow his nose for him and wipe up food dropped in his attempt to bring fork to mouth, David McKenzie takes comfort that, whether it comes in this lifetime or not, total healing is planned into his destiny when he is ushered into eternity.

If you’re still plagued with pain and awaiting wholeness, there’s hope. Your healing is coming; perhaps later, perhaps sooner. God has a special moment, a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). Our lives are cupped in His hands without a day unaccounted for (Ps. 31:14–15). In the meantime, like the persistent widow, we persevere in prayer and continue in loyalty (Lk. 18:1–8). Like King David, we remain confident in God’s promised salvation as we experience our trials (Ps. 27:3). Like Isaiah, we wait patiently for our God:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! —Is. 30:18

Faith-filled Expectation

God is going to do something on this healing journey of ours. If it’s healing in this life, He will bring it. If a season of suffering is to be withstood, He will use it for our ultimate good (Ro. 5:3–5), and He will help us toward the blessing that comes through ministering to others (2 Cor. 1:3–4). In fact, our suffering could be the very sign that God is using us in His redemptive plan. Thus, we watch and listen in faith-filled expectation.

I once spoke to Harry Leasement, a returned missionary who’d spent a good portion of his ministry working in Estonia. Harry shared a remarkable story of the gospel’s spread among Estonia’s hearing-impaired community. It all began when two young men applied for Leasement’s newly established Bible college. One had partial hearing; the other was completely deaf. Hesitant, but sensing the Lord’s guidance, Harry enrolled the eager students and began the lengthy process of adapting the curriculum to their unique needs.

From these small beginnings—just two obedient, deaf disciples—came a tremendous harvest for God’s kingdom. Within two years, more than 300 of Estonia’s deaf had converted. They began their own school and have since established a college especially for training deaf missionaries. The movement has spread into Russia, Mongolia, and the Ukraine. The number of deaf Christians now reaches into the tens of thousands.

Intrigued by the story, I asked Harry the obvious question: What about healing? He must have thought that through, I suggested. Harry smiled and replied, “We more than thought it through. Being Pentecostal in our leanings, we prayed it through, and we preached it! In fact, both of these guys are skinny from fasting and seeking God. They sought the Lord [for their healing] for several years.” Yet God didn’t heal.

Through this seeming silence from God comes another lesson about waiting for God’s healing. “Actually,” Harry continued, “one of our interpreters was healed of her deafness. Yet when she was healed, she found herself on the outs with the profoundly deaf. The two men received a grace from God to recognize their deafness as the key to reaching the deaf community.”

Harry quoted the statistics: There are 8.7 million profoundly deaf people in Russia and 75.2 million in China. “When the men received the concept that deafness could be a key to reach people no one else could reach, a joy came into their lives.”

The walk of faith is a life of expectation. We believe that God rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6), and so we expect to see results. But sometimes our suffering has a redemptive benefit for others. The Estonian men remain deaf to reach their hearing-impaired brethren, the Apostle Paul suffered his “thorn in the flesh” so that God’s power would propel his missionary endeavors (2 Cor. 12:7–10), and Jesus Christ died so that we might live forever. Suffering is a bit easier to endure when we can see God’s purpose in it. Through such redemptive pain, we can experience an unusual joy. Joy came to the Estonians when they saw their deafness as a gift, Paul said that because of God’s grace he delighted in his difficulties, and Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him” (Heb. 12:2).

I still have many questions about miraculous healing. I don’t know why God chose to touch Patricia’s marital problem after such a long time while leaving others unhealed. Yet, when our problems continue, I sense that our calling is to live in responsible, patient, faith-filled expectation.

There’re Good Reasons Behind Those Godly “No’s” “Not Now’s” “Wait”

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by TIM KIMMEL

“The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.” Deuteronomy 7:22

I wonder how often our prayers that ask God for bigger-than-life favor on our efforts (and sooner than later) actually come off as ranting and whining in His ears. We’ve made big plans for our marriage, our kids, our job or our dreams and we’re frustrated that things aren’t happening as fast as we’d prefer. For instance, you spent all that time getting a couple of degrees from college and figure that by thirty years old your salary ought to have at least six digits in front of the decimal point. This fast track quid pro quo attitude is why God prefers to run our lives rather than giving us our photo-shopped desires. We’re too naïve and preoccupied to see how stupid and dangerous our selfish hopes for our personal lives really are.

Speaking of grad school, the nation of Israel had spent 40 years getting a PhD in walking around in circles. The Promised Land now lies sprawled out as far as their eyes can see; just over the glistening waters of the Jordon River. There are some nasty nations with intimidating names occupying the land: Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizites, Hivites, Jebusites. These were people who had cut a deal with the devil centuries earlier. They chose to thumb their nose at the God who made them and instead bowed their knees to evil itself. The stench of their vile lifestyles had reached God’s nostrils. Their wholesale disregard for human life—even the precious lives of their own children—finally determined the dénouement of their existence. They had to go (Leviticus 18:24-25; Ezra 9:10-12). Israel was chosen to administrate their ultimate demise. In the process, she was also going to finally get to claim the land grant God had promised to her patriarch, Abraham, so many years earlier.

But God made an interesting passing statement to Moses as he was telling him how the land grab would ultimately come down. He said although the nations would fold like broken lawn chairs before them, the actual conquering of the land would be done methodically over a prolonged period of years.

Then God slipped this reason into the mix: so that the wild animals wouldn’t multiply so rapidly that they couldn’t keep them under control (my paraphrase of Deuteronomy 7:22; Exodus 23:29-30).

Literally, God is referring to wild boars, jackals, leopards, hyenas, mountain lions and bears. We know these types of animals existed in Israel (Judges 14:6, 1 Samuel 17:33-37, 1 Kings 13:23-25). But the presence of all of those challenging nations mentioned above kept these animals from over-populating. God promised to go before Israel and conquer these nations. The deal was simple: as long as Israel kept their trust in the Lord, He would fight their battles for them. None of these nations stood a chance. But there was a threat that lived in the shadows and crevices of the land they were conquering that God knew would be too much for them if Israel was allowed to get the upper hand too soon. He didn’t want the hunters to become the hunted.

These wild animals in the back story of Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land serve as a metaphor for our lives too.

They are the same reason God usually doesn’t grant us our prayer requests for jobs that come easy or payoff early, hassle free marriages, kids without selfish wills, and friends without issues. All of these things we’d prefer to have in our lives have something in common: they don’t require our daily dependence on God.

Having to develop wealth or achieve a certain level of prominence the old fashion way—by humble and hard work, living below our means on a budget and saving as we go puts us in a position to not only appreciate wealth and status when and if it finally comes, but know how to handle it. The struggles of love, goofy kids and unstable friends keep us in our Bibles and on our knees. But if everything came easily and quickly (the way too many people would prefer), we don’t realize how many predators would be waiting in the wings to take us out.

Blood feeders like pride, arrogance, entitlement, ease, idleness, self-sufficiency, close-mindedness and elitism love to slip in and devour the hearts of people who have life served to them on Wedgewood opportunities. I’ve seen too many who enjoyed beginners luck end up with winner’s remorse. I’ve also seen too many early retirements lead to divorces and too many silver-spooned kids self-destruct. There’s a reason why God usually allows success to be found at the end of a long and winding road. You’ve got to depend on Him to lead you, trust His maps when the path seems wrong, and keep your hand clenched tightly in His when liars bid you to take their shortcuts.

Trust Him when he says, “But I will not drive them (the hassles of your normal life: like work, love, family and friendships) out in a single year, because the land (your personal life) would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them (the hassles and challenges) out before you, until you have increased enough (matured in Christ) to take possession of the land.” Exodus 23:29-30 (parenthetical statements added).

The good life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Those glowing eyes blinking in its shadows are reason enough to let God decide how much and how soon you’re ready for more.

Strength In Weakness

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

God is not wasting the pain in your life. He never wastes a wound. As you go through the dark, deep valleys in your life, remember that the great Apostle Paul was even pounded by the evil one. All hell seemed to be against him. In his moment of darkness he begs God to get rid of this thorn in his flesh, this messenger of satan that was harassing him. (II Corinthians 12:8)

What messenger of satan has come your way? Does it feel like there is a thorn deep in your flesh, and you can find no relief? Have you pleaded with God to just take it away? Paul did. He cried out to God not just once, but three times. And still God chose not to remove his thorn.

In all of this Paul learned something special. God simply spoke to him and said, “I have provided grace for you. Sufficient grace. Grace to remind you and reassure you that through this weakness, I will show My Power.” Paul got the message. He declared that he would be, not just “ok” with this, but that he would be most glad about it. He went on to say that he would not only be content with the “thorn” but also with insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. He understood that you can’t control your life. God will be at work. He will use the “thorn”…the messenger of satan, to remind you that He is all you need. He is in control. Look around you. Can you see it? Grace… more and more grace…

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for Righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

God’s “Won’t”

SOURCE:   The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 61

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!”  Isaiah 29:16

God’s sovereignty is so complete that he exercises ultimate control even over painful and unjust events (Exod. 4:10-12; Job 1:6-12; 42:11; Ps. 71:20-22; Isa. 45:5-7; Lam. 3:37-38; Amos 3:6; I Peter 3:17).  This is difficult for us to understand and accept, because we tend to judge God’s actions according to our notions of what is right.  Whether consciously or subconsciously, we say to ourselves, “If I were God and could control everything in the world, I wouldn’t allow someone to suffer this way.”  Such thoughts show how little we understand and respect God.

Food for Thought

In seeking to follow God’s will, are you open to His won’t?

There have been countless sermons preached and numerous books written concerning God’s will.  But have you ever heard someone talk about God’s won’t? How many times have you asked, sought and knocked, only to hear God say, “No.”?  We often find ourselves in painful and unjust events; we discover thorns in our flesh or hear peaceproclaimed where there is no peace.  And we cry out, “Save us!  Take it away!  Roll down your justice, O Lord!”  We might ask three times or maybe even keep at it for three years.  But the answer from heaven appears to be, “I won’t.”

As Ken points out, this is difficult for us to understand and accept. We’re convinced that God should do this or should intervene there.  And when it appears that he won’t, we question his control. Or his love.  Or both.  And it’s not that the questioning is wrong, per se, but that the questioning frequently gets “ment-ed” — filled with judgment or resentment toward God.  However, “such thoughts show how little we understand and respect God.” We turn things upside down and seek to understand them based on what little we really know or see.  We have to remember that we are the clay, not the potter. There is a God and we’re not him.  The life of faith is allowing our lives to be lived God-side-up, obediently trusting his infinitely, tender hand to mold and shape us according to his good will.  And that includes his good won’t.

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