In clearing the way to hear God’s voice we will have to open up some of our old baggage. You know, that thing that you desperately prayed for year after year, believing that God would answer, despite all the odds? Maybe you have prayed for a healing, a soul-mate, or the salvation of a loved one. Then, one day, with a broken heart, you packed up the “unanswered prayer” and threw it in the basement. You forgot all about it until I just mentioned it, so now you regret finding my blog! Most of us have an unresolved situation that we would rather forget but whether we realize it or not, it is crowding space in our heart.
Walk back with me a few thousand years to some women who know a bit about how you feel. Imagine you are Mary or Martha and you know Jesus. He is your friend. He is healing people right and left, multiplying bread, and turning water into wine. Then your beloved brother is sick. Really sick. You are scared but know exactly what to do. You call for Jesus who has healed so many others. You know that He loves you and your brother, so you send for Him and wait. And wait. And wait. You tell your friends that He is coming. Some of these friends don’t believe all of this miracle talk so here is Jesus’ opportunity to answer your prayer and “prove Himself” to your friends. Your friends start to ask you where Jesus is and frankly you are a little embarrassed and a lot hurt. Where is He? Then your brother dies. It’s over.
Any of that sound familiar? Wouldn’t God want to be glorified by publicly and dramatically answering my prayer? Wouldn’t it be a great opportunity for Him if He did just what I asked Him to do when I asked Him to do it and how I asked Him to do it? Ugh….I can hear myself talk and it doesn’t sound very “Christian.”
That’s the great thing about our relationship with God, though. We don’t have to sound a certain way or make sense. Sometimes we just have to tell Him what we are thinking. Maybe the day you packed up that hurt you recited an appropriate Christian cliché. You said something like, “God would rather me be holy than happy so I’ll just trust Him and move on.” Can I add a little side note here? I really, really REALLY dislike Christian clichés! There. I said it. They are usually only partially true and rarely IF EVER helpful. Rant over.
David, didn’t stuff down his emotions and march on. He cried out to God and then put the problem at His feet. Of course we know that our time on earth is short and we should have an eternal perspective, but let’s face it. We are human and we desire God’s goodness here. In the land of the living! Thank you, David, for having the courage to say it for all of us!
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13 (NASB)
Martha was also very honest and direct with Jesus.
“Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21 (NASB)
Can you hear the hurt in her voice? Have you felt it yourself? You have seen other people healed and other marriages restored. You have seen your friends find great jobs and their children succeed in school. But not in your situation. God has seemed silent and distant. You want to say what Martha said. Go ahead. Tell Him. He can hear your thoughts anyway, remember?
Now that you have gotten that off your chest, check out the next verse.
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” John 11:22 (NASB)
Okay, so this part is harder, I’ll admit. But tell God anyway. Even now You can redeem this situation and bring glory to Your name.
Those two little words are packed with hope and faith. “Even now.” This is the part where you rest in the knowledge that God is good. His answer of restoration for your situation may be come today or tomorrow or next year or not even in your lifetime. Maybe He will resurrect your situation as He did Lazarus, or maybe He has other plans. Regardless, you WILL experience His goodness in the land of the living. He will show Himself kind to you as you surrender your deepest hurt to Him.
You can trust Jesus with your deepest hurt. He cared for Mary and Martha and He cares just as much for you.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NASB)
Stop for a minute and just imagine that Jesus is weeping with you. He is weeping because He really does care about your feelings. In fact, He cares so much about you that He knows exactly how many tears you have cried.
“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle, are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8 (NASB)
Do you really believe that? It is an important point because if you don’t think God cares about your hurt then you certainly are not going to trust and surrender to His answer. Knowing that He cares also gives us the confidence that He would have answered our prayer long ago if it were best. Jesus told His disciples,
“….’Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.’” John 11:14b-15 (NASB)
We do not know all the complexities surrounding our hurtful situation. I’m sure Mary and Martha could never have imagined that their painful delay would result in so many coming to salvation!
Now that we have told God how we feel, acknowledged that He can even now redeem our situation, we have one last thing to do. Bring that unpacked suitcase of hurt and leave it at the cross.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Notice that we didn’t pack our hurt back up neatly up again. We didn’t say anything “appropriate.” We just left our hurtful mess for Jesus to sort out while we go and rest.
For further reading, check out Everything Bitter is Sweet by Sarah Hagerty.