There’s a song that proclaims, “Savior, he can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, he is mighty to save…”
I’ve always loved this song, but honestly, I’ve been doubting God’s power lately.
As I reflected back on 2017, I read through my prayer journal from the year — and I found myself incredibly disappointed in God for not answering some of my reoccurring prayers that have been prayers of mine for years. I struggled to understand how God wouldn’t allow it to happen when it lined up so well with his Word. How could it be out of God’s will to ask for healing for someone else? To ask for someone else’s salvation?
And then, the first week of January, I stood on the top of a mountain. And I thought of the book of Isaiah.
“Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?”
I’ve never understood how someone could stand on top of a mountain and not believe in God. I find it so easy to believe when I can physically see His handiwork.
But when I can’t? It gets harder.
Reading through that passage in Isaiah, though, was instantly humbling. I marveled at the realization that God never promised to fill me in on His plan. And he never promised to answer when I expect Him to answer.
Who am I to question Him? My next thought was of Job.
You see, Job went through some really, really dark stuff. He lost his livestock, his servants, his way of life — even his family. He lost everything.
And what’s always bothered me about this story is the fact that Job did absolutely nothing wrong. God wasn’t punishing him for anything.
Actually, quite the opposite happened. Job was *so* righteous, God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith in God by taking away everything he held near and dear.
Let me stop right there and say I would not have passed that test.
Because I don’t like when “Thy will” isn’t my will.
I’ve been wrestling with this concept — that Thy will isn’t always my will — for over six months now, not really knowing how to write it. You see, seven months ago, someone that I had been praying for and trusting God to heal passed away.
My high school principal, TJ Meyer, was what I would call a modern-day Job. No one had a single bad thing to say about him. He was an upstanding member of the community who went above and beyond for others. His faith shone through everything he did.
People across the state of Nebraska and beyond rallied alongside his family as he battled a brain tumor for nearly a year.
I grew up with the Meyer family. Not only was TJ my principal, his wife was my high school English teacher. We attended church together for several years. Their children were my siblings’ ages. And, in a small town, everything is personal.
I remember hearing of TJ’s diagnosis and dismissing it. Of course God would heal him. I prayed for him frequently but never questioned this firmly held belief.
And then he died.
In the days following his passing, I tried to process the “why” behind it all (which is an absolutely horrible thing to do, and I don’t recommend it at all).
And all I kept coming back to was “Thy will isn’t always my will.”
Like, thanks God, not really what I’m looking for here.
You see, I spent the first 18 years of my life believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God heard my prayers and answered them accordingly.
And TJ’s death felt like salt in the wound that was my trust in God’s ability to save. It shook me to my core.
I remember going for a walk to clear my head, but doing more crying than anything.
It wasn’t fair.
It wasn’t right.
There had to be some mistake. This couldn’t be what God actually wanted. He wouldn’t take a good man. He wouldn’t take a father before he had the change to see his son graduate high school or to someday walk his daughter down the aisle (and, coming just a few months before my own wedding, this thought hit me like a Mack truck). He wouldn’t take someone who would still do so much good in this world. God couldn’t be this cruel.
TJ’s wife, Shanna, recently shared this post on Facebook, and reading it was just another demolition blow to the box in which I have place God for so many years.
The author writes,
“I suddenly wondered if His idea of good is simply not the same as ours. Maybe He doesn’t have a Webster’s. Maybe when He Google’s “good”, He doesn’t read of the things we typically think of (health, wealth, prosperity, fitting into your size 6 jeans, sipping wine along the Cour Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, France…)
If God is good, and I have NO DOUBT He is, then His definition of good CANNOT be the same as ours.
Because, Oh, Lord, I just don’t understand you otherwise. . .”
I let my anger with God fester for several months.
During the Christmas Eve service this year, we sang Rescuer by Rend Collective. And I cried. Because God hadn’t rescued so many people I cared about. I felt like God had failed me and, in turn, I failed those I had prayed for.
But I stuffed it back down for another week.
And on New Year’s Day, I went and had a good cry with my counselor (okay. I cried, she just looked very concerned…)
I walked away feeling only slightly better but determined to prove God’s faithfulness to myself. And, 21 chapters into the book of Genesis, I’ve already realized several things.
- God wants to part the sea for me, but sometimes I’d rather build a bridge on my own. (This doesn’t actually happen until Exodus, but it’s something I’ve realized nonetheless.)I convince myself that my way is best, despite my limited perspective on eternal things, and I usually just end up with a broken pile of wood.
- Man’s humanity (and sins and failures) does not affect God’s faithfulness. In fact, it magnifies it.This is something I’ve always known in my head but rarely believed in my heart. Yet 2 Timothy 2:13 is clear: “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”
- God’s way doesn’t always make sense. But purposeful faith reaps the reward.Okay, now I want you to note that I didn’t say “blind faith” here. Blind faith implies jumping off a cliff and not actually knowing if the pulled out the safety net. However, trusting God is not “blind” — hard, yes, but not blind. God had proven His faithfulness more times than we can count, but it leaves it up to us to decide if we want to choose to trust His plan even when we can’t see the outcome.
- “Thy will” is rarely “my will.” But that doesn’t mean God can’t be trusted. It simply means we can’t see the eternal picture. And that’s okay.(preaching to myself over here).
Natalie Grant recently released a new song titled More Than Anything. She sings,
“I know if You wanted to You could wave Your hand
Spare me this heartache, and change Your plan
And I know any second You could take my pain away
But even if You don’t, I pray
Help me want the Healer
More than the healing
Help me want the Saviour
More than the saving
Help me want the Giver
More than the giving
Oh help me want You Jesus
More than anything…”
These lyrics are becoming my new prayer. My genuine prayer. Because I’ve spent a lot of years saying words similar to these but actually very much wanting the healing or saving or giving because those things fit very nicely into my plan for life.
So now I pray, Lord, help me want Thy will so much more than my will.