Oh God, I need a lot of help making sense of this world. Like I read in the Gospels, the writers often note when something is being translated. And, Jesus did that too, like the other day, when I read one of the parables, and how he said that he taught using stories and parables so that some people would hear and not understand. And, Jesus then took the time to translate and explain the parable to his disciples. The story I had read was that one about the parable of the seeds.
I’m under no delusion that this little blog project will turn into a best-selling book or some kind of movie project. That was certainly not my aspiration nor ambition. I’ve known people that go on the conference circuit and do the junket. No thank you, I’m not interested. That’s the not the game in life I want to play.
But I did have a wild idea for a few days that this could be big. Then I asked people to pray with me for 30 days. Well, that wild idea got reined in soon enough. Poof. But prayer is a good thing. It’s just talking with God. No pressure. I can do that. I will do that.
In this season of my life, I’d be sincerely happy just to have boring and mundane days, if I can just have a peace and sanity that my life is going to be okay. I have way too many racing thoughts that are going in not-so-great directions; it’s kinda driving me batty.
Where was I going with this? Well, let me just put my words out there. I’ll transcribe the self-talk that’s going on in my head. I’ve got a running conversation with me talking to myself most of the time. Not out loud, of course, that would be too weird. Or shall I say, other people would think that to be too weird, too crazy.
Let me take a step back from today and reflect upon some of the things I’m receiving from you, oh God. Oh my how people are struggling far more than I am. I’ve heard the word cancer too many times this year. And now it’s not just people who are older or people I don’t know. I’m hearing that C-word from people I know personally and people that are my peers. I feel really bad for them and I want to pray for them. I don’t want them to suffer and struggle. I would imagine that having a harder disease like that would raise many more mixed emotions and anxiety and fear than what I’ve had to deal with this year. I ask that they would have a great sense of peace that comes from knowing the God of the universe, knowing that God is able to help them through these challenges, far better than denying the existence of God. So on occasions like this, of bad news, I ask that their faith in you would grow. Desperation isn’t the best way for that to happen. Mere survival isn’t the best way for that.
My thoughts for them are that they’d not despair. That they would know they’re not alone. They can ask for help. And that there is hope. Those are the three things that have helped me the most. They’re simple words. Profound words.
That’s one of those things the popular Bible teachers and preachers don’t say much. There’s this prevailing ethos of religion in America for something inspirational, motivational, and positive thinking, and celebratory. And those are good things, don’t get me wrong.
But there’s that thing you do, God, where those educational programs or habits or disciples can only help a person grow to a certain point. There’s this whole other level of spiritual maturity that can only be developed through a season of suffering. I don’t want to use spiritual terminology like “dark night of the soul.” This came to light for me when I replaced my racing thoughts with your words: count it all joy when you face trials of all kinds for we know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance complete its work so that you will be fully mature and not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, my personal paraphrase)
The preacher said on Sunday that your ultimate purpose is to bring us into maturity and into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Ouch. Suffering, really God? Is there no other way?
We all see plenty of suffering in ordinary life, as do many people around the world, especially in recent current events, with hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, shootings, murders, extreme poverty, injustices, #metoo, all kinds of bad things that people do to people, and bad things that happen to people because of natural disasters too.
How do we make sense of all this? God, can you translate all of this, into something that does make sense? It’s gibberish. No, it’s worse than that. It’s ugly, it’s violent, it’s painful, it’s unnecessary, it’s wrong. It moves some people closer to spirituality. But it also moves a lot of people away from spirituality.
And where does that leave me and this little prayer blog? I don’t know where I’m going with it. I’m just keeping up with my commitment here to write out my prayers. If it helps a few people, that’d be good. If it helps a lot more people, that’d be better. It’s up to you God. Can you calm my mind and sort out my racing thoughts and my jumbled words. Make sense of this thing called life. Make sense of my prayers.