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the more I prayed.

I used to think the more I prayed the better things would turn out.

That is pretty much  based on the scripture knock and it shall be opened to you.

Add this to the American culture conducive to performance and productivity, along with books written on someone’s experience of answered prayer, well… there you have it.

It wasn’t only the death of my son that got me wondering, but other prayer worthy situations which began balancing earnest prayer with just as much earnest acceptance.

Some of us have neglected the Lord’s prayer because of its common place of rote recitation. Words we might become desensitized to.

But the word of God stands forever. Each time it is spoken it has the power to refresh and regenerate.

Human nature is attracted to new ways of doing things. Bigger and better. Faster and sleeker. Out with the old and in with the new.

Those things excite our emotions – often fleeting and not solid enough to anchor.

When I have been faced with great difficulty and sorrow, I have been drawn to writers from decades ago. Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, C.S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, and others. I feasted on these books alone in my room when Chris died.

Our world has progressed in many wonderful ways. Yet, we need wisdom in what is good and what is not. And wisdom comes from God. 

Nothing is new under the sun. When pain comes to us, we need to hear from people who knew pain.

New isn’t always better.

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when things go wrong.

When things go wrong in our lives, when things hurt, we don’t like it.

It’s normal.

One thing that helped me move a little past personal tragedies is realizing things have been going wrong in a whole lot of lives for centuries. Why did I think I was immune?

One reason is American thinking. We can be a driven culture with success in our sights. We have so much in terms of possessions and opportunities compared to other times and places, we can get thrown off when something goes wrong. We want to fix it. We want a solution. And the quicker the better.

But things like grieving do not allow it. It’s slow and methodical. Not very American.

Add to that a kingdom minded, serving, giving, doing church mindedness, and grieving better not take too much time.

Additionally, I was a committed and dedicated Christian who believed in intercessory prayer. I meant business.

It’s not that I do not believe in prayer now. It’s just that now, I don’t believe it can change as much as I thought. And if you also prayed and believed it would keep the devil at bay (aka pretty much removed from too much bad stuff happening to you), anchoring yourself to Psalm 91, take heart.

Prayer is good. But trusting God is better.

One of the most important things to do after a tragedy in your life, after you have cried all the tears, is take a step back. Our pain causes us to focus intently on ourselves. This  can go on too long.  I believe we are wired to take that step back but sometimes we just don’t want to.

When we do, we realize we are not alone. Pain is universal.

This helps. Misery likes company? Kind of.

One of the difficulties of pain is: what do we do with it? We take a pill for headaches. We go to the dentist for a toothache. What is the remedy for emotional pain?

God.

Not an unnamed force or higher power who has left you without words of comfort, strength, and guidance. But one who knows how we are made – what works and what doesn’t.

Our hearts yearn for connection with our Creator and there are no substitutes. He is the key that unlocks the questions and supplies the answers of the human heart.

And even though we won’t have all the answers to our questions, trusting Him with what we do not understand is an answer in itself.

And Psalm 91? I only  saw the deliverance from snares and pestilence part.

Now I see the words refuge, shelter, rest, faithfulness … my God, in whom I trust.

This is where we put our pain and heartache. This is how God walks through it with us.

The stark chill of tragedies will come and try to destroy you. You will want to succumb to it. God doesn’t want you to.

He wants you to know His care for you and how He can help you to persevere…when things go wrong.

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how God feels.

When the guy on the screen says that he could hear the cries of children underneath the rubble,his voice starts to crack and how in the world does anything stand in a world like this? – Ann Voskamp

 

Please read this from a woman who has faced storms.

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photo credit:  Foter / Public domain

streams in the desert.

Measure your life by loss and not by gain,

Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth.

For love’s strength is found in love’s sacrifice,

And he who suffers has more to give.

I recently read this comforting quote.

Comforting you say?

Yes.

We react, resist, and resent pain and suffering. And so we should. No one should like it, as if embracing it makes you more acceptable to God.

We are accepted through His suffering and His ultimate victory over death.

But in that deep and dark abyss of pain, that is where I saw God. He showed me things there. It made me feel pulled away from the normal conversations of the day. The kind that seemed so trivial to me.

People call it grieving and it is. But that entails more than sadness. People will accept you need time. They are not always ready for the translucent wall being mysteriously built between you and them.

Some will talk behind your back. This kind of thing only plunged me deeper into suffering because what I saw they did not see.

And I knew they would not listen.

But it was alright. Because God was in that farthest place from human understanding with me. It was alright they didn’t understand. How could they?

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139

Oh, how I remember teaching  wide-eyed children sitting cross-legged on the floor in Sunday School – God is everywhere! You could fly to outer space and He is there! You could go to the deepest ocean and He is still there! We could never go anywhere without Him being there.

But here? In such pain and suffering?

Yes.

And He who suffers has more to give.

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Streams in the Desert; p. 384, Zondervan, 1997

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