I had not realized it, but I had stopped believing that God could answer my prayers.
Not that He couldn’t answer prayers — just that He didn’t want to answer my prayers.
The past seemed filled more with vain hopes, unanswered prayers, unmet expectations… and I had stopped hoping God could answer me, shower me, with favor. Guilt from the past and recurring sins fueled my belief that God did not want to answer my prayers.
Meditating… on Pain?
For the past several months, I had been meditating on pain, and the suffering Christians must inevitably go through. I read John Piper’s “Spectacular Sins” and listened to Tim Keller and other speakers expound on the necessity of pain and suffering. And when I opened my email, there were the updates from persecuted Christians all over the world.
Despite my relatively low tolerance and dislike (who doesn’t?) of pain, I actually anticipated suffering.
One of my journal entries last January reads:
“Yes, I do not particularly like suffering, but I must expect it… how my mind shudders and my heart faints to htink of what God may allow to come my way, but I pray that I will hold on firmly to what is true, to who He is, and to keep my eyes fixed on Him until everything melts away and I have learned to love Him and trust Him with every fiber of my being.”
All well and good, except that in meditating too much on this, I had forgotten — or ignored — the fact that God is also my Father, my Heavenly father who wants to give good gifts to His children.
In my anticipation of pain and suffering, my view of God became warped, turning Him into nothing more but a mighty, cruel God.
Every good thing, every blessing that came my way I ignored and took for granted, and then… I simply stopped believing God wanted to bless me. I couldn’t believe God wanted to give me pleasure.
Which, when I think about it now, sounds so ridiculous!
Isn’t He the loving Father, who works all things for good for those who love Him?
Isn’t He the Father you can never out-give?
Isn’t He the God who, more than any earthly father, seeks to provide and bless His children?
Not Really that Righteous
In retrospect, my anticipation of pain wasn’t any indication of my total righteousness anyway. In classic Sarah Grace Lawagan style, it was all because of my pride.
I thought that if I endured, I would emerge as a better person, and I would finally be worthy to be blessed.
But God never blesses just because I have made myself worthy to be blessed, because I will never be. He blesses because He, in His perfect will, wants to, whether I am worthy of it or not.
PCCC Staff Conference “Believe Again” came as a breath of fresh air, showing me that I had started to become morbid without even noticing it.
There is a fine line between looking to God as Someone who only deals out punishment and Someone who only gives pleasure. Having just one perspective is unhealthy and tints our view about God and our faith.
I pray that I will never forget God’s goodness, nor will I cease to believe that suffering also comes from Him.