Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Believing God will do what we desire

I just received an e-mail from a friend, thanking church members and others for our prayers on behalf of a very sick couple and a very premature baby - premature because of the mother's illness. It is indeed good news and I am grateful to God for this blessing. The e-mail ended with these words: "Thanks for all of your prayers. God has heard them and answered them!" I know the writer well and I know that he doesn't live in the illusion that God is ever deaf to our prayers nor that He always gives us what we ask for, but those words reminded me of this recent post by Bob at Wilderness Fandango:
.... We're all about the Lord giveth, but it is not possible, apparently for the Lord to taketh away, at least he wouldn't do that to good, praying Christians.

We just don't go there. It seems to indicate a lack of faith.

That the Lord takes away is a very hard lesson. We want to say that it is the devil who takes away. We live and pray as if the verse said, The Lord giveth, and the devil taketh away (that is if we don't pray enough, obey enough, go to church enough, etc.).

Just listen to the way we pray for people who have life-threatening conditions. The language we use often reveals that we believe that there is a battle between God and the devil for the life of the person in question. The devil brought the life-threatening condition, but we're praying for God to win the battle and restore health to the person. Moreover, we're to believe God will do this, because that's what faith is all about, right? Believing God will do the good thing that we desire. ....

Of course all this sets us up for a major faith crisis when a loved one dies. Instead of God taketh away we cry, How could God let this happen! ....

In Genesis 3 God actually ordains hardship and mortality for Adam and Eve and their descendants. Which means us. Jesus didn't rescind that order for believers, but his mission and ministry, his life and death and resurrection, taken together, shows us the ultimate context of suffering and death in this world. We see death in a new light. The context is not a battle between the devil and God in which sometimes God wins (and we live) and sometimes the devil (and we die). We need to see our own sorrow, pain, hardship, and even our dying in the context of the God's unfolding redemptive plan, which by the way defeated death as an enemy (for those who "look to Jesus") back about 2000 years ago, on a hill called Calvary. [more]
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head,
and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, "Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return thither:
the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Job 1:20-22, KJV

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28, KJV

Wilderness Fandango: The Lord taketh?

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