What do we do with the hard things of God?
Do we let doubts and unanswered prayers influence how we see God? Do we skim over scripture that we don’t think lines up with our concept of what a loving God should look like? How do we handle the death of a loved one or being passed over for a promotion at work?
If we aren’t careful, bitterness will creep in. The door will crack open and the enemy of our souls will have a field day planting doubt in our minds, “Did God really say…” We cannot allow our circumstances to shape our view of God.
We must allow God to shape our understanding of our circumstances.
In Genesis 32, Jacob found himself overwhelmed with fear of his brother, Esau. Years before, Jacob had deceitfully and manipulatively stolen the blessing intended for his brother. Now, he approached Esau’s land with the fruits of that blessing: a large family, many servants, immense wealth. Yet he feared his brother’s retaliation. He feared for his life…for the lives of his entire household.
After humbling himself in prayer, Jacob sent an extravagant gift ahead to Esau. Then, he sent his household ahead as well. Jacob was left completely alone when a man appeared and began to wrestle him. It’s always struck me as strange that this “man” just appears from nowhere at the exact moment Jacob is finally alone.
And just a few verses later, we discover that he’s been wrestling with God this whole night. Not a man…but God…the One who has the power to bless, to rename, to direct our paths. God is not having an identity crisis. He is secure in who He is and how He feels about us. He came to Jacob, He initiated – better yet, orchestrated – the whole event. God wanted to talk to him about identity.
“…Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ And [the man] said to [Jacob], ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with me, and have prevailed.'” Genesis 32:26-28
At times when I haven’t heard an answer to prayer and I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, God has allowed me to realize that His thoughts are above my thoughts (meaning I wouldn’t understand even if He did tell me), but with that revelation peace is deposited and I know that everything will be all right.
I don’t have to worry about what is coming because God has told us we are entering His joy; we are going to a place where there is no more crying and no more death. Even when my feelings don’t line up, God is still faithful and He has always gone before me and made the crooked places straight.
I don’t like conflict. I would rather keep the peace than start conflict. And yet, God will allow me into situations where I must face conflict to show me that He is with me and that there are ways to handle conflict which are healthy and honoring to Him.
There are also times when I let myself get anxious about impending conflict and nothing ever comes of it. I’m sure a lot of that is me getting worked up in my mind. But I am convinced that, many times, God is diffusing situations and circumstances before I ever arrive.
And through the uncertainties, through the conflicts, God is standing ready to teach me more about who He is and who I am. He will not let an opportunity to reveal Himself to us pass Him by.
The book of James tells us that tests and trials come to perfect us. Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble, not that we might. Our eternal God is bigger than circumstances, bigger than situations.
Just another note about Jacob, who was risking his life fighting for a blessing; he was already the carrier of blessing. God had promised him and his father (Isaac) and his grandfather (Abraham) that they would be blessed beyond comprehension.
When we are in tough places, if we will allow God to do His work, He will reveal more of our identity to us. We may not come out on the other side of trials with a physical limp, but if we let God do His work we should walk differently, with a better understanding of who we are in Him.
I’d lost hope completely. Whenever someone offered to pray for me…for this issue…I’d smile and say, “Sure, thanks!” But, inside, my heart had grown cold. I knew the prayer lifted up in genuine concern and out of love for me would fall flat.
After living with a diagnosis for more than eight years, I’d come to accept that having Type 1 diabetes, an “incurable” autoimmune disease, was to be my lifelong fate. This is the kind that you can’t just exercise your way out of. It’s living dependent on insulin injections every. single. day.
Years ago, my heart was still tender. I sat praying one day about just this issue, believing my God for a miracle, asking for what He wanted to do, fully open to Him. And I heard, resonating through my spirit, “I have healed you.” As in past tense…already complete.
But when I didn’t see that manifest in actual physical evidence, hope waned…gradually…over the next months and years. I stopped asking for prayer. I stopped praying even for myself. I started concocting reasons. I started believing lies.
I’m too undisciplined with food, so having diabetes is a necessary thing to keep my appetites in check.
The apostle Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that never left him, so I guess this is mine.
Managing diabetes helps keep me in line and have a reason to eat well and work out. I can’t do those things without it.
It’s not so bad having an excuse to put myself first, such as urgently eating if my sugar crashes, or bringing food with me anywhere.
While I was at a conference a few weeks ago, God began stirring my heart. And when one of the speakers stood at the end of her message and prayed for healing over those of us in the room with autoimmune disorders, something broke free in me. A spark of hope. A sliver of receptivity to believe the impossible.
So, I asked…one more time.
The next day, my sugars were inexplicably crashing again and again. My body simply didn’t need as much insulin as it had the day before. Once I stabilized, I was using about 30% less insulin than I typically needed!
And I prayed, breathing out belief, breathing in truth…
Lord, thank You for restoring every single cell in my body to Your original and perfect design.
Father, thank You for being the God of the impossible things. Thank You for healing me.
Thank You for making me wonderfully, fearfully.
Lord, I reject the lies I’ve believed and spoken. I believe You can do anything!
Make me a testimony of Your presence, Your healing touch, Your grace in my very physical body.
Thank You for caring about every part of me…not just my soul…but You care about my spirit, soul, AND body!
I surrender to You my appetites and attitudes. I don’t need any disease to keep me in check. You are my everything!
Lord, thank You that the days of wearing my insulin pump are numbered. I will see the day when it is no longer needed at all!
Lord, I receive You. Renew every cell. Regenerate what has been lost. Resurrect what’s been dead in me.
Over the past several weeks, the confirmations of His movement have continued…every day! Insulin needs lowering. Friends standing with me, believing alongside me that we will see a miracle here. Words given (completely without prompting from me at all!) confirming that God has told someone to tell me that He’s healing me.
I’ve considered keeping this under wraps while healing is “in process.” But God is asking me to be bold…to draw a line in the sand and declare out loud what He’s doing in the quiet places.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
Will you join me in praying and agree with me? Will you dare to believe that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever? This Jesus, who healed every single person who came to Him asking for healing, and healing many who never asked…will you believe with me that He’s still healing?
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” Psalm 103:2-3
Is there something you’re facing where you’ve lost hope that any change is possible? Your Healer stands ready to meet you. Are you willing to invite Him into the impossible situation?
I’d love to stand alongside you and pray with you! Let’s shake off the lies and the excuses and the doubts. Let’s believe beyond what our minds can grasp. Let’s spend time with the Healer, with Yahweh Rapha, The Lord Who Heals…it’s His very nature to do so. Let’s ask Him what He has to say about the situation, what His truth is, despite what the evidence might suggest. What are you believing for today?
“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. ‘If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,’ he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!'” Mark 1:40-41[In the meantime, I am still taking insulin. I am still monitoring my blood sugars very closely. I am still exercising and caring for my diet. And, as I see my blood sugars go down, I’m slowly lowering my insulin intake. I’m still keeping my doctor’s appointments. I’m believing that the “facts” of measurable evidence will continue to reflect the truth of His healing more and more.]
So, life can be difficult sometimes…and a bit mysterious, right? And when I don’t have a clear vision for what I’m doing, it can get downright frustrating.
A few years ago, my hubby and I (finally) agreed that we would homeschool our kids. (By the way, this post is not about whether you should homeschool or not…so don’t stop reading there if you don’t!) I had about zero desire to teach our kids at home at first. I like my alone time…I won’t lie! As much as I love our kids, I’m a much better mom and human being overall if I get some time away. Yep, classic introvert.
But, then I started to pray about it and slowly God started to give me HIS vision for our family and kids’ education.
For kindergarten/pre-school, we’ve basically just “done life”: counting daddy’s vitamins, reading signs and sounding out letters while driving, doing some workbooks here and there, letting them play with magnet letters on the fridge while I cook…and so forth.
But now that we’re approaching the legal requirements of our state for our oldest to enter first grade, I started to panic…”what am I doing?”…”what if I screw it up?”…”what if I can’t figure out what to teach?”…”what if weeks go by and we don’t have a formal lesson?”…and so the hamster wheel of uncertainty and fear spun around.
I told Steve about my uncertainties and all-over-the-place worries. (I’m so thankful he just listened and didn’t reply at that moment! Thanks honey!)
I was searching information for our local public school when the thought dawned on me: “Hey, maybe I should pray!” So, I did. And, I asked my girlfriends to pray too (thanks, you awesome warriors!) Within the hour, He swarmed me with peace. He gave me an answer…yes, His vision for us is to be a homeschooling family. And over the next few days, He gave me one more little step to take…just one at a time. Step 1: Yes, homeschool. Step 2: Use a curriculum. Step 3: Check that book I have been reading and love for suggestions. Step 4: Research options. Step 5: Discuss top option with the hubs and pray. Step 6: Manage to wait until the paycheck has cleared before I rush to order said curriculum and obsessively check the mail everyday until it arrives! And so on…
I am completely amazed that God has brought me from an attitude of complete dread and fear to a place of renewed excitement. And the way He got me there was to give me vision. He spoke into my little life…gave me an answer…and is providing the steps one-by-one. Vision…that’s what I needed.
Yes! That’s it! And I especially love how The Message version phrases this same verse…
I was stumbling all over my fear of lack and inadequacies…But when I paid attention to what God wanted to reveal to me, He gave me what I needed and I feel that blessing not just in my attitude, but especially in the path we are now walking.
What decisions are you facing in your life right now? It may have nothing to do with your child’s education…or it might. But whatever it is, stop and listen to what God has to say about it. Don’t get caught in the torrent of fear. Let Him speak into your situation and give you the next step to take.