I read her words and knew I could’ve written them myself:
It seems the more I pray, the more difficult things become . . . A friend said, “Father, when does she get a break?” I am aware of my tendency to pity parties. But right now, I just want to quit.
Although I’d never met this woman, didn’t even know her last name, I felt a kindred connection. I knew what it was like to experience unrelenting circumstances, with no relief. I, too, had friends who regularly commented on my seemingly endless string of tough breaks.
And, like my online friend, I’d prayed for decades, bent knees, petitions raised, and tears shed. I’d begged the God I believed in with all my heart to answer my prayers.
And yet, at times, it seemed all I received in response were more hard times. Yes, I too experienced days when I wanted to quit.
The apostle Paul knew about unrelenting circumstances. In 2 Corinthians 11, he lists some of the difficulties he’d endured, things like homelessness, beatings, stonings, sleeplessness, hunger, pain, fear, thirst. He knew hardships far more difficult than anything I’ve known or can imagine. And I have no doubt he prayed faithfully for God to bring relief to his pain, to change his circumstances. Even so, he continued to suffer.
And yet, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote these words:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything?! How is that possible? How does a man — or woman — who has faced years of suffering, in spite of prayers for relief, find real peace?
The answer, I believe, sits at the end of verse 5 in four simple words:
“The Lord is near.”
Not “The Lord might be near” or “The Lord will be near someday.” But the Lord IS near. As in today, right now, smack dab in the middle of whatever impossibility in which you find yourself.
Paul found what he wanted most of all in God’s nearness. He believed it was worth it to keep praying, to keep presenting his requests to God day after day, regardless of whether or not he got the answers he desired. Why? Because God’s presence mattered more to him than any relief to his pain. And in God’s presence, he found real peace.
I admit, sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough. I want a microwave faith, the kind that gives me, in seconds, quick relief and immediate comfort. Which is why, at times, when my prayers feel fruitless, I’m tempted to quit.
And yet, love compels us to continue. The kind of love that desires God himself more than even our own lives. A love that is so wooed by His nearness that we find a measure of peace even in our pain. Because we have a God who so loved us, that He gave his only son for us, enduring pain so we could have, forever, Him.
Peace doesn’t come when our circumstances change. Real peace comes when we enter in with the One who is already near, the presence of a God who never leaves.
Yes, I believe love prays. And although I’m not there yet, I want to be the kind of woman who is so in love with her Jesus that she continues to bring her petitions to the pain of the cross.
And the Prince of Peace who meets me there.
The Lord is near -- as in today, right now, smack dab in the middle of whatever impossibility in which you find yourself. #loveoverall #loveprays -@MicheleCushatt: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
So get this … it appears that the more I pray the worse the situation gets … but having to hold onto my trust in God … it’s so encouraging that others feel the same .. thank you for sharing
Michele Cushatt says
Oh, Caroline. You’re not the only one. With you, sister.
Beth Williams says
I have been tempted to quit also. This year has been a tough one for my family. There have been days I’ve asked God to come now & take us home. I know the God of the universe will see us through this pandemic & furlough crisis. He’s gotten me through others & He loves us to much to stop now. I have quoted Philippians 4:6-7 often to my hubby. Reminding him that prayer is the only solution-simply ask God for the next steps to take. Another verse I’ve been ruminating & quoting is Psalm 23:4-5 “Yea though I walk Through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Thy rod & staff they comfort me.” Quoting scripture & praying are the two items that can help bring God’s perfect peace to my weary soul.
Michele Cushatt says
I love that, Beth. Psalm 23 has taken on such depth of meaning for me over the last few years, more than ever before. A pointed reminder that valleys, and shadows, and death are our reality. But He is with us, even there.
Thank you for the reminder…..The Lord is near! Simple and yet powerful. What more needs to be said?
Michele Cushatt says
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Prayer sometimes can be hard. We can be pray and pray for the same thing seem to seem to get no answer too it. We can Michael wonder why God has not answered our prayer about that situation. We can begin to wonder does God really hear us. Oh yes he does. Maybe it is us that need to change. We may have some sin in our lives that we need to ask God to forgive us from. We may have someone we need to forgive before God will answer our prayers. We then need to ask Gods Holy Spirit to show us if there is anything we need to put right before our prayers will be answered. Then do as the Holy Spirit leads us. Or maybe God is not answering right away or as quickly as we would like to test or faith to see how strong or patients is in waiting. Or to see if we will give up in trusting to answer that prayer. Not let the Old Devil whisper in our ears. No point praying for it any more or what ever it is you were praying for. God is not going to answer it. So you might as well give up. I wouldn’t I say a BIG NO TO THE DEVIL. I GOING TO KEEP ON PRAYIG AND TRUSING GOD NO MATTER HOW LONG HE TAKES TO FOR GOD TOO ANSWER MY PRAYER AS I KNOW HE GOD WILL ANSWER IT IN HIS PERFECT TIMING. To give me the peace I need as God never lets me down. If I put my TRUST IN HIM. Love todays reading. Xxx
I love this! God never moves himself from us – we move ourselves from Him. And people forget that praying does not have to be eloquent or fancy – just a heartfelt “please” is good enough for Him when we can’t utter another word or put two thoughts together…He already knows what we’re asking for anyway!
Blessings to you for sharing this today!
Michele Cushatt says
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” —Romans 8:26=27
Jane Shrader says
I have found such comfort in those verses! It is so easy to quote Romans 8:28…. but there is power and peace in knowing the Holy Spirit is interceding for us!
Judy Lindsay says
Because the print is so light and on a white background, I have difficulty reading the daily incourage emails. Could the type you use be made bolder? Thank you.
Michelle, I am grateful for your words, and reminder this morning.
blessings to all,
Please forgive my hasty reply, your reminder of “The Lord is near” has brought a lot of comfort I am truly grateful.
Becky Keife says
I want to be that kind of woman too.
Thank you for these words, friend.