Everything that God gives us is a gift, no matter how hard we had to work for it. Our paychecks, our homes, friends, family, church family, jobs… every good gift. The Bible says in James,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”James 1:17
While you might have agreed with that statement, I’d ask you to pause right now and think of the most difficult thing you went through today. What about the most difficult thing you went through this week? What about last week?
Now, think about your prayers. What were you praying for as you went through these various tests?
Where am I going with this? I’ll show you!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with offense. With all the social and political unrest in our nation and world, it’s been difficult for me to find that many people that I love dearly have such vastly different views than I do. Differing opinions don’t bother me. It’s the way that they’ve been presented; hatefully, angrily, aggressively. Every tweet, post, video or share is antagonistic and hostile– from all sides. It’s been so hard to bear.
I found myself so affected by how relentless and overwhelming it has been to witness every one on their social media soap boxes, that at times I would read someone’s post and actually be out of breath. I would open Facebook and get instant headaches. I would scroll through Instagram and have heart palpitations. I was seeing my friends and family in a whole new light and some things just hurt. I was truly battling offense.
So I got down and asked God to help me. I begged for Him to not allow any root of bitterness to spring forth in my heart, though I was sure it had already begun. The rage that I felt boiling in my belly and rising into my chest on some days had begun to scare me. I was desperate for God to help me extend grace to those who I didn’t agree with.
“God help me to forgive like you forgive me. Help me to extend grace and mercy. Don’t allow me to become bitter. Help me to be a Christian FIRST! Make my heart hurt for the things that hurt yours. Help me to love like you love.”
This was my prayer.
Something new happened. I had a disagreement with one of my very best friends. I was so tired of being angry and began to be afraid that I was the problem. So again, I got down and prayed. Hurt, angry, and again offended, I began to ask God why was I constantly having to be the bigger person.
“God, why am I always losing friends? Why am I always having to go out of my way to love people who won’t return that same effort and care? What am I doing wrong? Why do I keep getting my feelings hurt? It takes so much effort to let people into my space and it hurts so bad when they violate it. God… help me to… forgive.”
It was in this tear-filled prayer, crying over a disagreement that I was having with my best friend that I realized… Sometimes God uses our prayers against us! Just weeks before, I was down on the floor practically begging God to stretch my ability to extend forgiveness, to extend grace, to extend love like His love. And then, a trial came where I had to do all of those things.
I slowly began to realize that sometimes we pray with our ears closed. We pray prayers like
“God give me your heart”
“God help me to love like you”
“God help me to forgive like you forgive me”
And we forget that it’s not a cake-walk being like Jesus. That’s the reason He’s the only one who can do it perfectly. In order to forgive like Jesus, we need people in our lives who need our forgiveness. That means someone has to offend you, step on your toes, anger you, hurt you, use you, abuse you, and maybe not apologize. But that’s your opportunity. You might have to work for it.
It may not be in this trial, but you may one day realize that your capacity to forgive is much larger. You have a bigger heart than you used to. God gave you the gift you asked for– you just had to work a little to get it.
So again I ask you, what battles are you currently facing? And prayers are you currently praying? It might just be that your current situation is the answer to your prayer.
“And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
Rest assured that though it looks like God is using your prayers AGAINST you, he is also using them FOR you.
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