Y’know what I’m thinking today? That I know exactly how Moses must have felt…
My sweetie came home from work one day last week, responding to my “how are you?” with a rather morose response. We talked for a few minutes about why he was feeling gloomy, and it had largely to do with God. Or rather, God’s response to prayer.
My husband had prayed that morning, as he always does when he gets up. And he prayed for many of those same people that he always prays for ~ friends, family, special needs in our lives or in the lives of those we know… And one of those prayers was for the son of a friend of ours. He has had a long battle with drugs, and with all that goes along with that: the lying, the damage to relationships… And last week there was another “event” in that sad narrative. We got the update early in the week, and we encouraged our friend and prayed with her that this latest would be resolved soon, and in the best possible way.
Several hours after my husband prayed that morning, we got an update from our friend. And the news was not good.
I was watching The Ten Commandments this weekend, on Easter Sunday. Nobody does Moses like Charleton Heston, right? And there’s that scene, when Moses first comes to see Pharaoh as God’s representative. “Let My people go,” he relays to Pharaoh. But instead Pharaoh tells Moses that the Hebrews will now have to provide their own straw with which to make the bricks. Not only did their prayer not get answered, their labor just got harder. And I thought how terrible Moses must have felt. He had such a burden as their champion, and he cared deeply. How awful it must have been to come back and relate to them what had happened.
There are a lot of different kinds of prayers. There are formula prayers and rote prayers that we sometimes pray mindlessly. And there are sincere, desperate, deep-from-the-heart prayers that almost don’t have words… they feel like they come straight from our souls. And when God chooses not to answer those prayers, it hurts. And we have to choose to remind ourselves that He loves us, and uses all things for good.
But when He chooses to respond to those prayers with the opposite of what we prayed, it’s more than pain. It feels like betrayal. Moses had prayed for a good outcome of his visit to Pharaoh, and the people certainly prayed, as they had for years, for their nightmare to end. And not only was their prayer not answered, things got worse. And when that happens, we need to focus not on God’s love for us, or His plan for us, but on His sovereignty and wisdom.
There are only two options: either He can’t, or He won’t. And I mean it when I say, “Thy will be done.” So if He won’t, I wouldn’t want Him to anyway.