The Gift of AdversityAugust 13, 2013
Sharing & ShiningAugust 13, 2013
So you want me to pray for you? For what, exactly? That your travels are safe; your job stays secure; you get that contract; the sale goes through; your wife straightens up; your husband sees the light; the operation goes well; the illness abates; for your mistakes not to catch up with you?
I’m not going to do it. Well, of course I will, but I’ll follow with a prayer that supersedes your current circumstances, because that is what they are, circumstances.
Praying for Good or the Best?
There have been several trials in my life — brought on my self, for the most part by myself — that had prayers been answered and they dissipated prematurely, I would have missed a huge growing opportunity. How many mistakes have I made that resulted in a deeper understanding? Better clarity helps me to see things the right way, but that often came from first seeing things the wrong way. My perspective is typically expanded after an oft-times difficult experience caused by my, or someone else’s limited perspective.
I love this:
“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.”
So no, I certainly don’t want to suffer from my or anyone else’s poor judgment. But praying with confidence for God to protect me from that seems counterproductive. Maybe a better prayer is for God to protect me through it. Yet even that, as spiritual as it sounds, is from a limited perspective.
I want your job to stay secure and your marriage to work out. I don’t want you to suffer that illness or get hurt by their actions. But there is something more I want for you, and for me, something that reaches … eternally … beyond that.
What Did Jesus Pray?
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 Bold added
This is eternal life, knowing You? I’m confused. Eternal life is the part after death, isn’t it? After we die, then eternity.
If there is indeed eternal life, then we are living eternally, now. This life is part of eternal life. It’s not, “You are going to live forever;” you are living forever … now! Jesus fuses this human part of our eternal life, and the part after, with His perfect and ultimate prayer request: that they may know you … here, now.
He seems to be saying that the joy of eternity with God can begin here, now; that we can start heaven now, but only by knowing God, and Jesus, more and more, better and better, deeper and deeper. The key to that joy is in the knowing.
Okay, then I’ll be happy to pray that for you. The catch is I’m going to pray, “Lord, whatever it takes for them — and me – to know you better, have at it. Don’t deliver us from this trial until we know you better. All I care about, all that truly matters, is that we come through this circumstance with a deeper, richer knowledge of who You are, Your heart and Your character.”
The Big Bang
Okay, here comes the hard part. If you don’t even know God, yet; if you are a first class person but still only an economy class Churchian, I’m going to pray that God allow or do whatever it takes to break you, to pierce your heart, so you can get over yourself and your pride-induced blindness and see Him, the one true God, by seeing through Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
My own dear sisters prayed for God to break me if that was what it would take, and they sweetly apologized for it later. I thanked them for their prayers and joyfully refused their apologies.
Praying as the Giants Did
Paul followed Jesus’ lead with many of his prayers:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spiritof wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. 17And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:17-19 Bold added
I want to know God better, whatever it takes. That is eternal life, here, now. Heaven starting early. Jesus said I could have it, and I want it. And I want that for you. So don’t ask me to pray for you unless you want that, too. This ultimate prayer request stuff is not for the faint-hearted, not if we truly care.
So I’ll pray for your relief, because its only human to want the best, but in wanting the ultimate best, I’ll pray for your knowing Him more deeply.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7,8 10-11 Bold added