Some quiet words of encouragement from the book of Psalms. Click each picture to read the full Psalm.
When I was in Bible College I took a class on prayer. Little did I know, that class would profoundly change my life. I can still remember almost every thing we learned and discussed, which is saying a lot for a college course.
As a very skeptical and critical person, I often think it’s a bit of a miracle that I became a Christian. There is so much that requires faith, and thus, so much to doubt. By far the biggest area of challenge for me is prayer. This is ironic because if you knew me you would know I really love prayer. I love praying for people and spending up to hours talking to God. Somehow at the same time that I question it, I really believe in its power. The biggest reason I believe in its power is because the Bible insists on it.
All the way back in the earliest pages of the Bible (Exodus 32 to be exact), there is an amazing story that, at the same time it leaves me with a hundred questions, it leaves me with a ton of hope. You may remember the story of when Moses was on the mountain top talking to God (getting the 10 Commandments, among other things), and the people of Israel got impatient and built a golden calf to worship. When Moses came down he was super mad at this and so was God. God cursed them and said He would consume them. But Moses pleaded with God to spare them. And do you know what God did? He changed His mind and let them live.
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, right?! I have so many questions about that — like, how can God change His mind? What about keeping His word? What about judgement and wrath? What about fate and sovereignty? If Moses hadn’t intervened, would He have really wiped them all out? While is doesn’t all make sense to me, I know the Bible is truth, and so I also gain an amazing, life-changing hope from this story: prayer can work. Prayer can change things. God hears you and — for reasons I don’t understand at all — He responds.
In that prayer class I remember the professor quoted James saying something like, “‘You have not because you ask not’ …I don’t understand it, but I’m guessing somehow some of you have a college fund, or a healing, or something that God is waiting to give you, if you just ask.” What an interesting thing to consider.
For all the questions I can muster about prayer (and God encourages us to question, there’s nothing wrong with that), I always come back to these and other verses. I don’t get why or how, but I know for sure that prayer makes a difference. So I never cease to pray for the things that matter to me and others.
“Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few days. At first it sounds like just a nice thought, but the longer I think about it, the more truth springs from it. I believe this quote hits on probably the biggest difference between the Christian view of God and basically every other view of God.
To fatalistic religions, God is an all-powerful, impersonal being in the sky who makes arbitrary decisions about your life like a game of chess. When things happen, you know He did them, but you don’t know why, and you don’t ask. While it’s true that Christians also believe God is all-powerful and makes the decisions for our life, we have one added factor that I think changes everything: love.
The fact that this all-powerful Maker of the universe genuinely loves you — He cares about you — means that there is a reason behind the shots He calls for your life. And not only that, but they are personally made for you, and will never be too hard for you.
How does this affect your outlook? Let me give an example. Think of the last time you thought, “I could never do that” or, “If that happened, it would be the worst.” Let’s use cancer as a real-life example. “If I were told I had cancer, it would just kill me. I couldn’t do that.” Now let’s say a few years down the line, your fears come true and you are diagnosed with cancer. One of two things are true: 1.) God doesn’t care if you’re afraid of cancer and can’t handle it. You get cancer and that’s the end of the conversation. Or 2.) You were wrong, and God knows you can handle cancer. Christianity teaches #2 would be true. If you know God loves you, it changes everything about those heart-stopping, stomach-dropping moments in your life, as Spurgeon reminds us in the quote above.
Now many people believe this and use this truth to convince themselves of an extreme interpretation of this belief: God loves them more than Himself, they are the center of everything, they deserve certain things in life, and/or they can only expect to prosper. If you believe that lie, you will be disappointed. But if you stick to the truth, hope will not disappoint.
And that’s what this all comes down to: hope. If you subscribe to the truth that God is sovereign over your life and He loves you, you will always have hope in every situation. Why would you choose to face any situation with any other thinking?
This isn’t related to fertility or trial, but I am sure there are many non-Christian and non-religious people who read my blog. I do like to recommend some “distractors” from time to time — resources to grow your faith, while keeping you from obsessing too much about your trial.
I became a Christian as a doubt-filled questioning teenager. One of the earliest books I read was Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. It’s an excellent book about an atheist journalist’s “trial” of the Bible’s claims about Jesus. The proofs and arguments he uncovered led him to eventually follow Christ (he started his hunt to disprove his Christian wife, ironically enough).
Anyway, a few years ago around Christmastime I found this book for free on Kindle and decided to read it to compliment my holiday season. If you are a Christian looking to build your appreciation for “the reason for the season,” or a questioning onlooker seeking some answers, I really recommend this short read (less than 100 pages). It’s usually $.99 on Kindle, though it may be free again this month! It is Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christmas.
Lee Strobel has written several similar investigative books, including:
A similar book from a different author is The Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.
Today’s song was my first “anthem” for our infertility. It would randomly [providentially] pop up on Pandora at just the right times, so I finally bought it. We like to listen to it for encouragement, so I thought you would too.
While I know it’s not exactly a worship song, it is truth-based and I can’t overlook the value in that. It echoes this famous quote [perhaps by Edith Edman?]: “Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.”
Luke 1:79 – [Jesus came] “…To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
“Hold on to What You Believe” by Mumford & Sons