“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
I cannot get this off my mind. And I feel an urgency to share. Christian, we do not have time for mediocrity. We can not accept something just for “normal”. Our emotions can not drive who we are in Christ.
Let’s talk spiritual repercussion caused by both large and small life events and driven by emotion.
What is spiritual repercussion? Technically repercussion is defined as an unintended consequence following an event. It is generally used in an unwelcome context. That said, some life events bring positive change. We are focusing on the unwelcome change. Those cases, in which repercussion, in a spiritual sense, defines itself as the doubt, anger or apathy that a believer accepts as normal in response to difficulty.
When something major or life changing happens to a believer there is often Spiritual repercussion. I’ve read it in blog after blog. (Yes, it is in mine). I’ve talked to others in situations similar to, or very different from, my own. And I’ve lived (am still living) it. Here are the types of questions that arise:
*How can I continue to trust God?
*Why pray if it does not work?
*What is the true purpose for prayer, church, religion, etc.?
*Why has God left me?
The more you question, the deeper the doubt, anger or apathy becomes.
I understand the intent. The intent is two fold. First it is a survival mechanism, an attempt to press forward in life. Second it is a finite attempt to understand an infinite God.
I don’t argue the reality. There are questions. There are doubts. There are new ways at looking at life and spirituality. It is OK to question and seek a deeper understanding but to decide prayer is no longer viable or God no longer worthy IS wrong. It shows a deep misunderstanding of who God is. It claims that God somehow is the culprit in all that goes wrong. We prayed. He didn’t answer like we wanted. So now we don’t understand prayer or it has taken on a lesser meaning. Biblical teaching or example about prayer didn’t change because ours didn’t go as hoped. The Bible is the same. God did not change.
“I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6a NIV)
It was never about the exact prayer we prayed or the things we thought to be true. It was always about God and obedience to Him.
We pray because God commands us to.
“Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)
We read because God commands us to.
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ‘”” (Matthew 4:4 NIV)
We fellowship with other believers because God commands us to.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24, 25 NIV)
We do not do these things for God’s blessings. Although I believe that God’s blessing, however different from the earthly blessings we desire, will follow. We do these things out of love for our Saviour.
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.” (2 John 1:6a NIV)
The Bible promises us that in this life we will have trouble. Yet, when it comes we are dismayed. We get angry at God because He did not protect us.
But He did protect us.
Let me say that again. He DID protect us.
First He sent His Son so that when hardship ends in death we have an eternity of glory. Then He provided His Word for guidance and He established His Son as intercessor. Then He established His church so we have a support system. We have to quit thinking that hardship is an allowable excuse to question God. And we have to GENTLY correct and SLOWLY guide those we know who feel this way. We do them no favors by allowing them to harbor bitterness or anger towards God.
When a member of the flock is wounded he/she definitely needs your prayers but there is more. They HAVE to have more. He/she needs spiritual encouragement. Someone to walk regularly through the Scriptures with. Someone to remind them about the character of God. Someone to rebuke when they are wrong and encourage when they get it right.
Next time you hear someone say they no longer pray because of suffering. Ask them what changed -prayer, God or them? Don’t accept that the feeling is normal. Just because something is common, defined in our world as normal, does not make it correct. Help them walk through what has changed about prayer or about God. Help them understand that God did not change.
I understand life can be hard! And lots of self pity is available to those whose life doesn’t go as planned. I am the most guilty of this. Journal entry after journal entry I have written this year questions God, His intent and the power of Prayer. But if God’s character changed as a result of my trial, He could never truly have been God.
He did not change. I did.