Podcast: Play in new window | Download
How many questions did you ask Google today? If you’re like me, you may have lost count. It could be things as simple as the price of a brand of vitamins, and how to take a screenshot on a new phone; in other words, nothing too deep. But it all points to the fact that we like answers; and quickly.
So this could explain why we are so uncomfortable, confused and hurt by things in our lives we may not have answers for; prayers that seemed to go unanswered. Things that we have hoped or longed for, that we still don’t have.
Like, that relationship, that pregnancy, that home, that healing, that success, that reconciliation. You likely know what that is for you.
Let’s talk first about owning our desire for these things. Desire is not wrong. The Bible actually encourages us to come to God with our desires. Here are a few verses:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11
So, it’s okay to ask, beg, pray, and wrestle with God. After all, this is what He tells us to do.
But what if we don’t get an answer? How do we get to the place where we can accept the not knowing? Could the answer be in seeking after the Lord, for Himself, and not for what he can give us? Wanting God more than that person or thing?
As I write these words, I feel the sting in my own heart in accepting what I believe to be true. Does this mean dreams have to die? I would say maybe.
Maybe a dream has to die. Or at least the way it is right now has to die. In other words, it could be that the thing we’re dreaming, wishing or hoping for has become so large that we can see nothing else. Maybe it’s become an obsession; and you have become sick (emotionally, physically and spiritually) over it and your relationships are being ruined because of it.
Although there are times when we allow a dream to die, only for God to fulfill that very dream or desire – in His way and at His time. Has this happened to you? You’ve finally let that thing go; you may have even forgotten about it, and God ends up blessing you with it?
I love this about our Heavenly Father. He enjoys blessing us. But this is not a formula or trick. We’re not playing cards with the Lord.
Why do things sometimes work out after we let them go? As Psalm 75:8 describes:
“For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.”
God is a jealous God. But we must understand – this is no ugly, selfish, human jealousy. I believe this is a fierce protectiveness of our hearts, which can so easily be led astray. God knows that when we make idols of people or things, the pursuit of those people or things will eventually kill us. Literally or figuratively. And God doesn’t want this for us.
But, going back to my original question – how do we get to the place where we can accept the not knowing? What could God be trying to teach us in the waiting, and wondering? Once again, we visit the Psalms, this time Psalm 55:22:
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he shall sustain you: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
When you dig down into the original language of this verse, you find out that the “burden” referenced in this verse speaks to “thy portion – or, the lot assigned thee – that which God has given thee to bear” (Pulpit Commentary, 1880-97).
This really struck me – this verse is not simply talking about any burden, but that which God has given you or I to bear. So here we are faced with a choice – do we still believe God is good and are we willing to still trust him when we realize he has given us the burden we’re facing?
He’s not answering your prayer in the way and time you want it answered for a reason. And I don’t know why. I wish that I did; for myself and for others. But one thing I can tell you is that in therapy, I have sat with many people who wrestle with these questions. One thing I’ve said to clients many times is that we all carry question marks in our hearts – answers we just don’t have about why things haven’t worked out.
But I challenge my clients to ask themselves the question above: Are they still going to believe God is good and are they willing to still trust him, when they realize he has given them the burden they are facing? I pray the answer is yes.