At my worst, I'm impatient with those who struggle. I get frustrated with what seems like an effort to make/keep oneself miserable. And, I'll make it seem like I'm disaffected by the situation. I've definitely struggled big time in all 3 of those areas. I think God has really been working on me, and refining me as a pastor in those places. . .and hopefully I'm growing. Also, I can be prayerless at times. . and kind of function (even though I don't believe this) as a Deist. Like God is not interested in the small details of life. . . that we just need to shut up and get happy with our circumstances.
That's me sometimes. . It's wrong, I'm not proud of it.
B U T
When horrible things happen, and/or disappointment comes to our lives. . . . I really find it helpful to take a step back and look at the BIG picture. God is sovereign. Even the "hairs on our head" our numbered. He knows everything. He is working out HIS plan, not ours. We have no idea what the plan for the universe is, except the enormous truth that it's all going for HIS glory, and for HIS purposes. God "does not live in temples built by hands" the "depths of his wisdom" are unthinkable and sometimes unknowable to us. "Who has known the mind of the Lord", "Who has been his counselor"? He's got this. He's going to end it (we hope, soon). It's in His hands.
If that paragraph felt like a bunch of preaching to you, or that I was just "running to the bible", or that I'm not dealing with my feelings. . . . .Just know that I really believe that stuff. It affects me. It brings me peace. It helps me "not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" and "though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" I stand on that stuff.
When we're talking about our wishes of God, there is a hard balance to strike between persistence in prayer and patience with God. Of course, we need both. This is a really helpful message from Mark Driscoll about the persistent widow. It's really helpful.
We should be persistent with God. We should make our desires and hearts known to Him. But, let us never say that "God did not answer my prayer". He did. He either answered, "yes, no, or later".
We have to be radically "un-tethered" from the results. We have to remember that God has got this. He's working HIS plan. Most of the time, in my experience, God's answer to my prayers has alot to do with changing my heart, and less to do with me affecting His actions.
If that seems like a cop out. . remember that "waiting on the Lord" should cause us to "rise up with wings like eagles" and "walk and not grow weary". I believe that. It affects me. Waiting, and releasing outcomes to God brings Faith and Strength.
And, mostly, and most helpfully. I really believe in Heaven. God is going to wrap all of this up in the right way, and we will be with him forever. The present sufferings of this world, the prayers not answered as we like, the tragedies, the sin, the disappointment "will not be able to be compared with the Glory that will be revealed in us". It will seem like small potatoes.
I believe that. It affects me. It affects the way I interact with hard times, disappointment, and evil in the World. It all has an expiration date. It's going to end. "Every tear" will be wiped away.
The tears of my parent's divorce, the tears of my dad's death, the tears of Malachi's abandonment and fear, the tears of marriage difficulties, the tears of tragedies. God will make "all things new". I really believe that.
The hope of Heaven is not a cop out, not something to make us "no earthly good", it's actually the dominant way Paul, in the New Testament, tried to give hope to the churches, and those struggling. Because "in the blink of an eye, we will be changed". Then, we'll say "death where is your victory, death where is your sting". Paul believed that, he preached that to people going through really, really hard times. I believe it too.
So, let us (me) be patient with those who struggle and grieve with those who grieve. . .shut up with the bible platitudes for a season while we hurt together. . .yes, yes, yes. Absolutely
Let us all, struggling or not, . . . . also "hold firmly to the faith we confess" because "He who promised is faithful", and "hope does not disappoint". Let us "hope in God". Let us "wait on the Lord". Let us "come to Him" for "He will give you rest".
Let's fight with these truths. Let's fight against discouragement, depression, and frustration with God. Really. . that's why HE wrote these words to us. To help us fight against those things.
I believe that. It affects me and the way I process times like these