Prayer Through Suffering
Our times of crisis also cause the greatest need for prayer. You just don’t pray the same way when you are faced with a crisis. You used to pray, “Oh Heavenly Father, I beseech Thee or Lord . . .” But when trouble comes, “Oh God, help me . . .” You see, when you are going through a tough time and you have absolutely nothing but God to depend on—you are going to do some real praying!
When sorrow fills your heart, you cannot turn away from God and trust in the “chariots of the world.” You have to turn and run to the heart of God, because He is the only one that can come to your rescue. It is His Word and your reliance on His Word that will pull you through, not the psychiatrist, or even your “12 Step” program!
In the midst of my “crisis” when Patrice and I first moved to Ann Arbor, I had nothing left except God. I had no options available to me. I could not go back to Kalamazoo because I was miserable while living there. (There is nothing wrong with Kalamazoo, mind you, However, if you stay when the Lord is telling you to move on, you will be miserable until you follow His commands). There was no turning back: every door had been closed, every bridge was burned. I was trapped!
I had a dream during this period that took many years for me to understand. In my dream, a giant eagle was pursuing me (I know it sounds odd, but dreams are supposed to). As this huge eagle flew toward me, I was terrified and began to panic and run. But it was too late. It was too swift and strong and forcibly pinned me to the ground by his gigantic claws. I exhausted myself as I kicked, squirmed, fought and screamed. Although the eagle was gigantic and could have crushed the life out of me, it did not. It just stared at me, patiently waiting for me to give up, stop fighting and surrender.
After I had expended all my strength and just gave myself over to the mercy of the giant bird of prey, it seemed to smile at me (in dreams eagles can smile) and loosened its hold on me. It did not release me, it simply relaxed its grasp.
What I now see, is that sometimes the Lord will “hold us down,” so to speak, until we quit thrashing around. Sometimes we need to be “held down” so that He can speak openly to us and reveal His intentions. When we shut up and listen, He will finally reveal His intentions. That is the hard part. Closing our mouths and sitting quietly so He can get a word in edge-wise.
There are many times when I have had to just fall down on my face before the Lord and cry out to Him. I need my heart cleansed and my motives clarified before I can understand what He is trying to work in my life. I remember when I was teaching all the time, it was very easy to trust in my own natural gifts and abilities. However, I finally learned that when ever I did trust in my own strength there was no power, no anointing. If there is no anointing, there is no life; if there is no life, there is no change in me or in those that were listening.
It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much talent or human wisdom you have, you have to get down on your face and depend on God—and God alone! You cannot depend on the arm of the flesh.
All of these things will temper and tame our pride and make us more sensitive to the Lord’s heart and transform us to His image. That is the true work of grace in our lives.
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
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