Often it is simply the answers to our prayers that cause many of the difficulties in our Christian life. We pray for patience, and our Father sends demanding people our way who test us to the limit, “because…suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3). We pray for a submissive spirit, and God sends suffering again, for we learn to be obedient in the same way Christ “learned obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
We pray to be unselfish, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice by placing other people’s needs first and by laying down our lives for other believers. We pray for strength and humility, and “a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7) comes to torment us until we lie on the ground pleading for it to be withdrawn.
We pray to the Lord, as His apostles did, saying, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Then our money seems to take wings and fly away; our children become critically ill; an employee becomes careless, slow, and wasteful; or some other new trial comes upon us, requiring more faith than we have ever before experienced.
We pray for a Christlike life that exhibits the humility of a lamb. Then we are asked to perform some lowly task, or we are unjustly accused and given no opportunity to explain for “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and…did not open his mouth” (Isiah 53:7).
We pray for gentleness and quickly face a storm of temptation to be harsh and irritable. We pray for quietness, and suddenly every nerve is stressed to its limit with tremendous tension so that we may learn that when He sends His peace, no one can disturb it.
We pray for love for others, and God sends unique suffering by sending people our way who are difficult to love and who say things that get on our nerves and tear at our heart. He does this because “love is patient, love is kind…It is not rude,…it is not easily angered…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-5, 7-8)
Yes, we pray to be like Jesus, and God’s answer is: “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10); “Will your courage endure or your hands be strong?” (Ezekiel 22:14); “Can you drink the cup?” (Matthew 20:22).
The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance and every trial as being straight from the hand of our loving Father; to live “with Him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6), above the clouds, in the very presence of His throne; and to look down from glory on our circumstances as being lovingly and divinely appointed.
~ Streams in the Desert, May 13
As I wrestle through another morning at home and the little ones continue to wear my rough spots smooth, I find myself resisting, and seriously considering running away. At least for a little while.
And then I send them all to read and rest after lunch. I hide away in the quiet writing spot I just created, Sonic ice water on the desk, and I begin to decompress. I grab the Streams I had book marked from a couple of days ago and smile with God at how I needed this today.
These things I pray for…why am I surprised at how I must learn them? And what more effective tools of God than these little people who are with me day in and day out? And what will it take for the lessons to stick?
I don’t know when this heart will learn to respond first with grace and patience and gentleness. I don’t know when that “one more thing” that wants to push me over the edge will instead push me to my knees. I just don’t know when this heart will be right. But I do know that He who started a work, will be faithful to complete it. And I continue to trust that He will take these broken things that I offer up daily – my meager attempts to love and trust and give. I trust that He will use them and make something beautiful out of the dust that I am and that He will be glorified in this home, in these lives.
For His Glory~