This post is not for everyone, though I suspect at some points or another in our Christian life it will resonate with just about everyone. But for now, if you feel like life is going pretty smoothly, your prayers have been answered, your heart is full and you otherwise are experiencing a relatively satisfactory life, you might want to sit this one out.
On the other hand, if you’re reading this and it’s all fallen apart or it hasn’t worked out or its just not happening, in spite of the all the earnest prayers by yourself and intercessors, regardless of how noble and God-honoring the cause…
That loved one still died, that spouse still walked away, that miscarriage still happened, that marriage still ended in divorce, that adoption still fell through, that infertility or singleness still persists, that company still crumbled, that bankruptcy still happened, those family relationships are still fractured, or some other life desert or breakdown has occurred and persists.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve prayed. It doesn’t matter how many have prayed. When life dishes us a bowlful of disappointing lemons in spite of trusting God, and believing for his hand of goodness, the gap between making lemonade can seem like a chasm too far to bridge.
You have trusted in Christ as your Lord. You rejoice in your salvation, the redemption and forgiveness of sins. You know that God is sovereign and does as he pleases. You know you must bear the cross, that you are not your own and you serve a God who sees and who cares. You take this to heart and vow to keep trusting him, through the fog of bewilderment.
You have to affirm this repeatedly because there is still a hollow ring whose wide circle has filled you with disappointment, grief and anger. You have no grand delusions of getting everything you want in life nor are you captivated by the false trappings of prosperity teaching with the dangerous premise that material favor means acceptance from God. You disdain this lie and perpetrators of it.
You want God’s will for your life but if you’re real honest, you might find it even difficult to hear that God strips us for his glory and purpose especially when delivered in with clinical detachment. It can sound cold. Though you’ve resolved that his ways are higher than our ways and he places us in situations to trust him as outlined in this post here, you feel your situation is a slap in the face while your eyes see how the Lord is taking care of others in ways your heart has experienced loss. You wonder what God is doing and it only leaves you dazed and confused.
If this is you, I encourage you don’t give up. No, I’m not talking about relying on your strength to rid yourself of that pesky doubt in order to be some kind of virtuous, victorious Christian who is not touched by life’s pains. That would be a lie, because you have been deeply touched.
Rather, don’t give up on hanging on to Jesus and running to him in your grief and sorrow because it his strength that will sustain us in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Don’t give up on believing that the will of the Father means his goodness for you because he did not spare his only Son (Rom. 8:32). Don’t give up on asking the Holy Spirit even how you should prayer when it seems like prayer fails (Rom. 8:26-27). Don’t give up on prayer! Don’t give up the wrestle with faith as you work through the contradictions. Take your anger, and your sorrow, and your questions and all your tears to the Lord-kneeling, shouting, sobbing, or simply sitting in stunned silence.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Pet. 5:6-7)
As someone who has lived through years of what I write, I can assure you that God can handle our pain and disappointment. He knows how deeply impacted we are when the deepest desires of our heart allude us and when the failures and vicissitudes of life roar through our soul for prolonged periods. The same God who authored creation, to see it rebel and continued to extend his mercy and redemption, assures us his very premise is that he will be our God and we will be his people (Ex. 6:7). It may be that he is disciplining us or it may be that in his grand working out of things, there are reasons beyond our comprehension.
Truthfully, we will never understand all that God is doing in the orchestration of his universe. Nor will receive answers that will satisfy our sobered curiosity especially when it all falls down or doesn’t work out. But the reality is, we are not meant to. We are meant for something more, to cleave to the faithfulness of the Lord though we see through a glass dimly. We were meant to experience life now as those committed to citizenship of another kingdom, to have whatever impact this life now for the sake of God’s glory even as we groan with the aches of creation, remembering that one day all heartache will disappear.
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:3-4)