Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Refuse Me, Lord

            I have to say that I feel better now.  Things aren’t perfect, of course.  The work is still there every day.  The lack of contact with friends.  But I feel better after having vented it all out to my husband.  (Last post.)  I really needed to say those things.  Even if nothing was going to change or get “fixed,” I just needed to feel like I was heard.  And I feel more relaxed now.  More at peace.
            Not only did the venting help, but it is getting a tiny bit warmer now.  Some snow is melting, and we were able to go for a walk the other day.  First time in many weeks.  And I also think a certain prayer helped me relax, too.  One I never thought to pray before. 

            One night, I was mulling over something that our pastor had said, something that I’ve thought about before.  I just never put it into a prayer.  It’s about how people in the Bible sometimes begged God for something that they wanted.  And while God knew it wasn’t best for them, He gave it to them because they kept begging for it.  And the outcome wasn’t good. 
            The Israelites begged for a king (1 Samuel 8).  God knew a king wasn’t best for them, that it meant they were rejecting Him as their King.  But after warning them that a king would basically enslave them and rule them, they still begged for one.  So He gave them what they asked for. 
            And then there’s Hezekiah (2 Kings 20) who was sick and dying, but he prayed for more time.  And he was given 15 years.  But then, he went and showed an envoy from Babylon all of his treasures, which eventually led to an invasion by Babylon and captivity for Hezekiah’s people.  It would have better if Hezekiah didn’t have the extra 15 years.
            The Israelites in the desert (Numbers 11) begged Moses for meat.  They were basically complaining about God’s care for them.  They were grumbling against God (instead of simply asking in humble prayer) and becoming bitter.  And so God brought them quail.  Yet this quail also came with a plague that killed many of them.
            The point is, what we want is not always best for us.  And we don’t always need exactly what we think we do.  If we could see things from God’s perspective, in light of eternity, I’m sure we would see the folly or the frivolousness of some of our requests.  And we might just stop asking for those things.
            I tend to get really focused on certain things I am asking God for.  There have been some requests I have prayed for years.  And when He doesn’t seem to be answering, I get upset and wonder where He is and why He isn’t listening.  Especially when they are “small” requests.  I mean, why can’t He just do this one “small” thing that I am asking for?  And I act like I simply have to have it or else my life will be “off” somehow.
            But what if His silence doesn’t mean that He’s not answering my requests?  What if His silence is my answer, because He knows it’s best?  And yet there I am still complaining and begging because I think I need it.  But what if His “no” is what’s best for me?  Can I not trust His care?  Can I not trust His “no” as much as His “yes”?  Can I praise Him either way because I know He is good and loving and does what’s best for us?
            As I contemplated the Israelites and Hezekiah, I thought about how cloudy my vision is and how clearly God sees things.  And I would rather have Him do what He knows is best than fight for what I think I need.  If He knows something isn’t right for me, then I want to be okay with His “no.”  I don’t want Him to give me anything that I ask for if He knows it isn’t best, because He can see the future and eternity perfectly, far better than I can. 
            And then I realized that I don’t think I ever expressed this to God in prayer.  I’ve sure begged enough for the things that I want.  Many times, I don’t know where the line is between perseverance in prayer and accepting God’s “no.”  But I never really told God that I want Him to refuse any request I make if He knows it isn’t best.  And so the other night, I did.  I prayed:
            “Lord, I want what You want for me, what You know is best.  So if I ever make a request out of line with Your Will or one that’s not good for me, please don’t give it to me.  Don’t grant me anything just because I beg for it.  But grant only what is best for me, for Your Kingdom, and for Your Will.  And help me to gracefully accept the times You say ‘no.’  Help me to remember that You know much better than I do and that I don’t ‘need’ the things I think I do.  I need only what You know is best for me.  I will set my requests before You, but I accept Your right to grant them or refuse them.  Because I trust You.  Help me praise You and glorify You whatever Your answers are.”
            After praying this, I felt a much greater sense of peace.  His refusals of my requests don’t mean He isn’t listening or doesn’t care.  It might be precisely because He cares that He doesn’t give me what I ask for.  And so I don’t have to be afraid of not getting what I want or “need.”  I don’t have to fear when God seems to be saying “no.”  I’ll still let my requests be made known, but now I can relax knowing that “yes” or “no,” the answer is from Him.  And He is trustworthy.  I’m starting to think that these unanswered prayers aren’t so “unanswered” after all. 
            Thank You, Lord, that You see things clearly and that You are good, trustworthy, and loving.  It’s comforting to know that we have a God and a Father like You.  Thank You!