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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Prayer and Frustration

“We are praying for you.” I have several dear friends going through cancer and treatments right now and that’s a phrase I often use, because I really am praying. God has invited us to pray about all things, and though I may not know what His perfect will and plan is, I can still lift them to the Father in supplication. I can trust God because of Who He is and what He has done.

“We’re praying for you.” Yet words in the English language can’t seem to wrap around who God is and what He does when He hears those words. There are times in which I want to peel back part of the curtain and see what God does, especially when my prayers can’t comprehend His working. I identify with the father of the boy who said to Jesus, “I believe, help me in my unbelief.”  As the king prayed to God as the enemy approached, “…we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are one you.”     [2 Chronicles 20:12]

I know and believe that God hears our prayers. I have total confidence in the power and authority of God to speak into creation a universe so vast we can’t comprehend it. Yet, I am frustrated by my lack of faith; I am impatient to hear thunder, or to feel a tinkling in my skin; longing for something more than the sound of the words from my mouth falling on my ears when I pray.  I think if I could get a glimpse of the heavens moving, I might feel better. Are angels covering the earth at God’s bidding with every prayer Christian’s utter? In the midst of overwhelming tragedy and seemingly hopeless circumstances, we cry out to a God who loves us, who is more committed to our becoming like the nature of His Son than we are, and He does hear. Mentally, I know that. Emotionally, I want the reassurance as well, but realize that my emotions are not the basis for my faith.

In his book, A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis stated that sometimes we cry out to God so loud that we can’t hear Him speak to us. Perhaps that’s me, maybe I’m crying out too loud. We pray for the good of those for whom we pray, at least as we understand it from our limited viewpoint. We pray that God’s name and honor would not be minimized by negative results; that He would receive glory through the healing and draw men and women to Himself, for we know that it is His desire that all come to Him. Yet we cannot see what God sees, nor do we understand as He does.

When bombarded with negative and doubting thoughts, the Father gently leads me back to His Word. Job was a more righteous man than I am might ever be, pleading with God why the tragedies were assailing him so, yet God in His love and wisdom never tells him “why,” but only reveals more of “who” He is.  Job never was told about the dialogue between God and Satan, never heard God’s voice affirming his integrity. All God shares with Job is Himself. So, if I am to make application to the circumstances around me, I need to go back and affirm the “who” of the God I know: loving, compassionate, holy, righteous, all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present, unchangeable, eternal, etc.

Somehow I must overlay that with the fact that He will allow things in our lives that can reshape us into His image. Just as a diamond must be chipped away to reveal its beauty, I realize that I must be “chipped” away as well. I must be refined of the dross of those things which dull His reflection, yet this is a horribly painful process. The surgeon must inflict pain to remove the tumor. Not to do so would be considered uncaring, and harsh.  God does allow pain. Some no doubt, as a result of our sin, and some that serves the purpose of refining. God does allow pain. The ultimate pain inflicted on anyone was that of the Father allowed the Son to experience for the payment of our sin. It was certain not a lack of the Father’s love for the Son that permitted the cross. Neither can we doubt God’s love for us. Is there an example greater than Christ on Calvary to show the extent of God’s love?

What should I do?
•    I will continue to pray, asking God to heal according to His perfect will.
•    I will continue to trust, not because I know the outcome, but because I know the nature and character of the One who controls the outcome. He has shown Himself as faithful and true, righteous and just, loving and kind.
•    I will not try to bargain with God, for I have nothing to give and God does not bargain.
•    I will believe that based on His Word and testimony that He will not allow anything that will not be used for His ultimate glory and their ultimate good.
•    I will give thanks “in all things,” not for all things, as Scripture commands.


  1. Being "shaped" is not always fun, but goodness - it sure leads to some neat worship moments. I bet he planned it that way. ;) I really enjoy reading your blog.


  2. Jessica: Our daughter is in India this week working with Free Set, a group that helps take women out of prostitution, and also working some with one of the ministries of Mother Teresa to the terminally ill. When I see suffering on a grand scale, I am just overwhelmed. But, God is not. One day I trust that I will have a glimpse of His perspective. Until then, I must trust in Who He is and what He has done, knowing that my understanding of the situation is not a requirement for whether I am obedient or not. Thanks for your comments.