When Praying Hurts
Thirty years ago, I fasted, prayed and cried out to God to heal my husband, Scott. He was dying, attached to life support, unconscious. So many in the church said, “Pray with faith for complete healing. God can’t possibly mean for your young husband and father of your three month old son to die. There will be great triumph and glory to His name when you see the healing!” Well, it’s a dangerous place to think you know what God is thinking and how he will act. It is presumption and arrogance. Also, it hurts when He doesn’t do what you want him to. I put Him in a box and He didn’t fit. So the box broke. I, along with his parents, had to make the decision to take Scott off life support and watch him die.
After that time, it took a while to be able to pray. I didn’t trust God. I had been duped into the prosperity gospel-ish thinking that God owed me. I did all the right things. So He should keep up His end of the bargain. What a small God I said I was worshiping! In reality I was worshiping the image of what I thought God should be.
In his mercy, the Lord didn’t keep me in that place long. I kept reading the scriptures and my trust in who God truly is, that I learned by reading His word instead of just going by what other people said, began to grow. I saw Him as not just omnipotent and righteous but also good.
It’s funny how we humans tend to have to learn the same lesson over and over again. An engineer friend of mine once likened it to learning math. We start learning addition by learning that 1+1=2, but soon we add with more decimal places and then with unknown numbers and pretty soon it’s with polynomials. But at the core, it’s still addition. In the same way, we learn to trust God and trust that He is good. We learn to trust Him with different situations.
I am now facing another situation in which I feel like I have (mostly) done the right things, at least I have done the best I knew to do, but the situation seems hopeless. I struggle with feeling like God owes me, feeling like if I pray about this, will I get another “no?” But I am learning to pray and each time, open my hand and say, “Lord, do as you please. This is my heart’s cry, but You are Lord. And You know best.”
So yes, sometimes it hurts to pray. We want a particular answer and we don’t know if that’s the one that the Lord will give. But it hurts more to resent that I don’t always get things my own way. It hurts more to be mad at God. And ultimately, I don’t really want what He doesn’t want for me.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk up rightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Photo by Brennan Martinez on Unsplash