Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Question I Avoid Asking

A few Sundays ago, I was going on the third consecutive day of grumpiness. I somehow afforded the opportunity to spend an hour at a coffee shop before church and thought, "great. I can work out this issue and get over it before it consumes yet another day of my life!" I went, I prayed, I read, I journaled, I even drank espresso. And still, when the clock struck and it was time for me to leave, I had not resolved my funk. I was still in it. 

A few Wednesdays ago, I got a diagnosis that explained my chronic back pain. I was thankful to finally have something to "call it," and to have some suggested treatments to consider for relief. That, in a number of ways, was an answer to endless prayer. And yet, a week into my "treatment," I'm still having pain. I've seen a specialist, been given a fancy name for what my ailment is, and even paid for medicine, but my body is still broken and I am still experiencing the fallout of that reality.

A few Saturdays ago, an old sin crept its way into the forefront of my heart again. A "trigger" to compare myself to others, and the sneaking suspicion that I come out severely lacking, had me on my knees by about lunchtime. This is a lie I've been battling since high school, a pattern I've been working to dislodge for years. I've prayed, read, journaled, sought counsel,sat under the teaching of the Word, sought to apply it. And yet, I still struggle. I still have days where it's all I can do to run to the Lord for mercy minute by minute as thoughts of failure and inadequacy fill my head. 

These are three seemingly unrelated vignettes, but they all lead me to the same realization: God doesn't always answer the way I want. He doesn't always resolve things, He doesn't always heal, He doesn't always deliver me from struggle. I know this to be true because I know that He is able. He could give me insight and relief from a bad mood-- He is "Wonderful Counselor." He could heal my back instantaneously-- all authority on heaven and earth belongs to Him. He could deliver me from the sin of comparison in a moment-- He has vanquished sin under His feet. I've had the glorious privilege of seeing Him accomplish these very things in the lives of people I know. These stories cause me to rejoice and to praise, but they also cause me to wonder...

...Why not for me, Lord? 

This question-- or rather, the fear of what the answer might be-- kept me from asking for a long time. I so worried that if I asked for deliverance and got a "no," it would mean, "no, because I don't love you," or "no, because you're not really worth it to Me," or "no, because you haven't jumped through the right hoops yet" or "no, because I am not really interested in your good." 

Having grown up in a Christian environment, I know a lot of pat answers. Some are relatively comforting and have some biblical truth to them: "God uses these struggles in your life to sanctify you," "God is teaching you to depend on Him," "God is preparing you for something down the road," "God is helping you to understand what others go through." Others are less comforting and less biblical: "You must not have enough faith." "You're not praying hard enough." "There must be some sin in your life that's keeping you from blessing."

Some of those answers might seem like lunacy to you, but some of them might seem scarily familiar. Especially the latter, less biblical ones-- I actually believe those more often that I'd like to admit. I've decided not to try and end with an "answer" to my question, because I think that would defeat the purpose of the post. I'm not saying there aren't answers-- the Lord is certainly "answering" me, in different ways, in each of the struggles I shared today-- but my goal in this post is to encourage all of us (myself included!) to wrestle well with the question before reaching to a pat answer. Because sometimes we run to pat answers for the same reason we run from asking altogether-- because of fear.

Are there ongoing struggles in your life that you feel God has said "no" to delivering you from? How has that caused you to question? Are you willing to talk to Him about it before running to a pat answer? (For the record, "God doesn't exist" can be just as much a pat answer as "God is asking me to have more faith." It's easier to write God off as non-existent than to vulnerably ask Him if He loves you.)


1 comment:

Kari said...

Thanks for this post, it comes at a time when I have been asking the same question. Kari <3