Do you ever have days where you fear the sound of the phone or a knock at the door because you can only assume it will be more bad news?
This week I am grieved as a large number of close friends and family are facing illness, crisis, death of loved ones, etc. These are the people I hold closest to my heart and when I stop to think about it, I wonder why I’m not struck with paralyzing anxiety.
As more and more heartbreaking news blurs my view I’m finding there are too many things to worry about and I have no choice but to let go. You might wonder what I was holding onto. The truth is, I’m not sure, but I know that when I let go, I realize that whatever it was, it was heavy and this verse starts to make a lot more sense to me:
34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Sometimes, when there’s just one situation that’s askew in my life, I think that mulling over it will actually help me come to a conclusion. But when I realize the vast majority of these situations are completely out of my control, there’s something terrifying yet freeing in surrendering these responsibilities to someone else.
Friends, sometimes life sucks. This is not a complaint in hopes of an “I’m praying for you,” or “what can I do to help,” but an honest, bold and vulnerable statement because I’m guessing I’m not the only one that is holding a crappy hand of cards.
The good news is that this seemingly crappy hand of cards was not dealt to me at random. Unlike a game of chance, each of these situations were handpicked for this exact time in my life and yours.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I chose you…”Jeremiah 1:5
I rest in knowing he loves me enough to choose trials designed for me. They’re not random, but handpicked.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you… 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1: 7
God, how much do you love me to let me go through trials of many kinds! So much that you choose trials that you know I can’t endure without you . To show me my need for you.
I have a hard time realizing my need for anyone when I have a situation under control. But when I need a hand, I start looking around.
Think about this: A God who recognizes our independence and allows free will also allows us to endure trials with the full knowledge that we will not be able to endure it without dependence on him.
That is merciful!
And this abundantly merciful God invites us to draw near to him in our discouragement.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Palm 34:17-18
I am not a morning person. Never have been. I have been known to shed tears at the sound of my alarm clock…or these days, a babe’s cry.
Yet the last three mornings I have awaken slowly but completely by the hour of 5am. Previously an “ungodly” hour to me, this is now a precious hour of prayer as it has been clear to me each morning that I have been awakened for no other purpose.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
One morning it was a friend battling illness. Another morning it was a family member. This morning a co-worker. This has happened not once, but three times and each morning is precious, quiet time. Time with someone who cares and understands and listens.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” Isaiah 53:3
Friends, there are so many things we can’t control in our lives, but one thing we can control is ourselves and how we react to trials.
Will we react in fear allowing our bodies to be stricken with anxiety by the peril around us or will we make the conscious decision to discipline ourselves to prayer?
You see, prayer is not the “only thing we have left,” but it’s the first thing we have access to and the only powerful tool we are graciously allowed to use.
If we truly realized how powerful prayer is we would be on our knees in an instant, praying as we walk about our day, talking out loud like a crazy person in the car. We would not wish people well and tell them we would “be praying” for them, but rather interrupt their story to say, “Can I please pray for you right now?!”
Afton has a toy that consists of 4 balls, 4 slots, a visible race- car -like track box and a toy hammer. This is a fun toy that she is just learning to play with. She knows where the plastic balls go and how to push them down so they spin through the track and come out at the bottom. She picks them up and places them back at the starting point. The only part of the toy she fails to use is the hammer. This is a tool that I hand her every time. I have showed her how to use it by gently hitting the plastic balls and watching them fall. She smiles and takes the toy hammer, places it in her right hand and uses her dominant left instead to force the balls into the slots.This process takes longer, more effort and sometimes fails to work.
What I can’t get over is that she understands the hammer is part of the game,so she holds it, but she does not understand how it is to be used. She’s the same when handed a spoon and a bowl of yogurt. She holds the spoon in the hand she intends not to eat with and uses the other hand to shovel the gooey sweetness into her mouth leaving the spoon unscathed.
Friends, we’ve been given a tool that works, yet, like my sweet toddler we gently set it aside and use our own means to attempt to get the job done.
I would venture to say that our worry and human understanding of problem solving rather than prayer is less effective than my daughter’s attempt to use her own two hands. At least some of the yogurt ends up in her mouth!
“But which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.”Matthew 6:27
This week I have chosen to be disciplined in prayer. I will be waking each morning at 5am to intercede for the situations that are grieving to me. I want to ask you to join me.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
God- thank you for the person you’ve brought to these words. I lift up their, anxieties, pain, hurt and confusion and I ask you to work out the details for them. I ask that you would meet them in their trials and that you would not only take away the trial they are facing but that you would leave in it’s place the mark of your work in their lives. Thank you for what you promise to do if we ask. I thank you for all you have in store for the person reading this. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Consider joining me throughout the week. I can’t wait to see what God will do in our lives and the lives of those prayed for and I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to comment or send me a message with your story!
Monday 5am: Pray for the sick.
Tuesday 5am: Pray for those who are hurting.
Wednesday 5am: Pray for those in leadership/authority.
Thursday 5am: Pray for those facing persecution.
Friday 5am: Pray for the lost.
Saturday 5am: Pray for the poor.
Sunday 5am: Pray as led.
*Above is a framework if you’re not sure where to start but want to participate. Otherwise, pray as you feel God leads you!