Is suffering an answer to my prayers?

Many of us pray to be more like Jesus. We pray to be perfected and to be patient. We pray to have hearts of humility and obedience. These types of prayers sound wonderful but do we really understand the implications of what we are praying? Have we thought about the reality that trouble and not comfort is often what brings an answer to these requests?

Perfection and patience doesn’t come from a steady stream of comfort but more from various trials that come our way. Read James 1:2-5 for a good dose of this truth. And for obedience, the scriptures tell us in Hebrews 5:8 that “even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Yikes!  You want to be humble you say? Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus was humble because He gave up His rights and left His place of comfort in heaven. He became a servant and took on punishment He didn’t deserve by dying on the cross for our sins. He didn’t die a dignified death. Instead, He died a criminal’s death on the cross.

We should pray to be like Jesus. As believers, this type of prayer is very much in order. However, be sure that when the trials come you don’t complain but instead begin to rejoice, knowing your prayers are being answered!

Pay Attention…God is Answering!

My church  is doing a 40 day prayer challenge and I have been keeping a prayer journal. In it, I record prayer requests, answers to prayers, and any insights the Lord gives me during my prayer and bible study time. When writing in my journal, I don’t focus on proper grammar and format. As I put ink to paper my unedited thoughts flow. I am writing for an audience of two, me and God. This approach allows me to write without any inhibitions…very liberating experience. Its amazing because as I write, thoughts and feelings come to the surface that I didn’t realize was there. There is something about being deliberate with recording prayer request and the answers that come. It makes me more aware of how God is responding. So often I pray, God answers, and for various reasons, I miss it. Sometimes it’s because I was not praying in faith and I didn’t expect God to move. Or I pray and God answers but not in the way I wanted and expected him to. My prayer journal helps me to be more sensitive, more alert to the ways God is moving. Everyday I have something praiseworthy to record. EVERYDAY! It’s amazing. And as I go back and read the answers to prayers, it builds my faith and encourages me to keep on praying. He is listening. To me. I have an audience with the creator of heaven and earth. Now, how awesome is that?!

Are you serious…rejoice in suffering?


Below is a journal entry I wrote shortly after our fifth child Isaiah was born.  A day after his birth, Isaiah had to be admitted to the NICU and eventually underwent three surgeries.  This was a season of intense pain for our family because every day was so unpredictable and his life fragile. Today, Isaiah is totally healed (yes God is still in the healing business).   I chose to post this today because we often look for God to do something new and tend to have spiritual amnesia and rob God of the glory and the praise He deserves for what He has already done.  Today as I reflect on what he did for our baby boy, I will PRAISE HIM!

Journal Entry from August 2012

Yesterday I was gripped with a sudden fear that Isaiah may die.  It pained me to think of this.  I tried with all my might to “pull” through this fear, but it was overwhelming.    I could barely find the strength to fight, I felt paralyzed. I rebuked the devil, declared that God had not given me the spirit of fear but of power love and sound mind, but must admit I was still struggling.  I also felt bad that I couldn’t be there for him at all times to just hold him whenever I wanted and whenever he needed me.   Isn’t this what a mother is supposed to do?  Talk about feeling inadequate and guilty.  As I went through the day, I could hear in a still small voice, “it pleased the father to bruise the son.”  I couldn’t remember where the scripture was taken from, but as I tried to sink in self pity, the scripture kept on ringing in my spirit.  It was puzzling to me because I could not comprehend HOW (not why) God could handle seeing His own son crucified.  I understood the theology behind it but as a parent I couldn’t understand the emotional aspect of it, you know, the feeling part.

Right before I went to sleep last night, I struggled to open the bible, but I finally did.  I turned to the book of James and came across James 1:2-4  “Count it all joy, (ANIKA), [ when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. This was not even the scripture I was looking for but God knew it was just what I NEEDED!  Why is rejoicing in suffering such a resounding theme in scripture….AWWW!  What is there to be happy about when you are suffering?  I obviously missed that memo yesterday.   I didn’t want to hear what the scripture was saying at the moment but all I could do was smile because I knew what the Lord was speaking to my heart.  As I sat and reread and reread and reread that passage, a great peace came over me, a peace that exceeded anything I could understand (Philippians 4:7).  Amazing how the word of God gets to the heart of the matter and cause all fear to dissipate.

I can’t understand all the why’s behind the what’s during this season of my life, but I have to learn to not just accept it and say the Lord knows and He is going to bring me out, but I have to rejoice (not just lip service) even in this because it is ultimately about God getting the glory and Him perfecting me.

So this takes me back to the scripture that was ringing in my spirit yesterday, I looked it up and found that it was Isaiah 53:10,“But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief (Speaking of Jesus). Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s plan will prosper in his hands. 11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.   God could rejoice in what Jesus went through because He knew what the end was going to be…my salvation, our salvation. Jesus’ story did not end in suffering, it ended in triumph!  God provided an awesome example for me to REJOICE IN THE MIDST OF THE SUFFERING.  It was easy for me to speak faith when all of this began. I thought it would end just as quickly as it started but this is not the case.  Isaiah is still in the hospital, and even after he comes out, there is much adjusting that we will have to do.  There is also another surgery awaiting him when he gets a little older to reconnect his intestines.   I don’t know all the details of Isaiah’s story and what God has in store for him, but I must learn to press pass my feelings and begin to rejoice as I am in the MIDST OF IT because in the end God and God alone will get all the glory!  Can I live at this place EVERYDAY as I wait for the full manifestation of Isaiah’s healing?  I pray for the grace to do just that.