After a lengthy season of engaging in travailing prayer for a specific heartbreaking situation, weariness can set in. Especially, if what you have been praying for seems to be going way south…. heading in the opposite direction of what you have been praying and believing. You have done all you can do. You know you are praying according to God’s Word. You have believed with all your heart and still, you wait. However, the winter season has been long. Your wait is losing its strength and your hope of change is fading. Maybe you are praying for the healing of a close loved one or friend and you hear the devastating news that it is time to remove “life support” or maybe you are told that hospice has been notified. Maybe you are praying for a spouse whose choices have destroyed your marriage and you can know longer deny the evidence that God is preparing your heart to let go. Or maybe it is a son or daughter who is headed down an extremely dark path that has left your heart immensely broken as you struggle to find a way to rescue them only to finally accept the fact that you can’t rescue someone who doesn’t want to be rescued. Oh, help us dear Jesus! How do you keep from being taken under by discouragement? How do you NOT take on offense towards God? In these times, deep seeded discouragement begins to wrap itself tightly around your bleeding heart and instead of healing the wound it only works to squeeze all joy and hope out until there is no peace.
I understand. The struggle is real. After one phone call, overwhelming joy that I enjoyed just minutes before, quickly dissipated. Discouragement and hopelessness became my companions. I felt myself starting to cave into my own pity party. It was at that moment that I felt this question evade my broken heart. It was if Jesus was asking me, “What if you don’t get what you are praying for? What if the very thing you want to happen more than anything never happens? Will you STILL trust me?” It reminded me of the question that had been placed before me in the past, “What if I never answered another prayer, will you still love me? Will you still allow me to be your Father?” These are the moments that question our faith and cause us to wrestle with our beliefs, motives and even our own selfishness. Will we stay committed when we don’t get our way or will we turn away from Jesus just as many did because they did not understand what he was doing?
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:60-69
There have been hard moments in my wrestling when I have been reminded of the above scriptures. Sadly, I understand those who thought His sayings were “hard”. I understand the disappointment of things not going as they thought they should. I understand the offenses that can come from not understanding His ways. God’s Word tells us that some disciples turned back from following Jesus because they were offended by Him. They did not understand so they let their misunderstanding lead their heart away from the ONE who could save it.
Jesus then turns to the twelve disciples and basically asks if they want to turn back, as well. There is something about His question that causes me to pause. To camp there a while. My heart tries to imagine what Jesus was feeling at that moment. Rejection is hard…even for Jesus. As I think about the times I have asked that question in my own mind regarding relationships that I have had, I feel grief. Going through a divorce magnifies those kind of thoughts and demands losses you never saw coming. It is heartbreaking. So is life. Rejection is just part of it. I am thankful to know that Jesus understands. He gets it. That is enough for me. That is all I need to know to surrender my losses to Him and let them go. I appreciate Peter’s response to Jesus. He was not offended by Him, only committed to Him. No turning back for him. In my own wrestling and in the midst of unanswered prayers, I too, like Peter realize that no matter how much I don’t understand His ways, Jesus holds the words my heart needs to hear. His invitation to surrender and stubbornly plant my messy self in the safety of his loving sovereignty and amazing grace trumps the bate of offense that satan offers.
More than answered prayers, more than things going my way, more than understanding the why’s of life, I need Jesus. Not so much for what He can do for me this side of heaven, but for what His extravagant love has already done for me that guarantees my happily ever after in the next. What love! He has proven Himself faithful to me in the past, no matter how my heart perceives the trials and tribulations that may be in my future. God is STILL trustworthy. He is STILL faithful. His plans are GOOD.
Matthew 11:6 says, “And blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is he who takes no offense at Me and finds no cause for stumbling in or through Me and is not hindered from seeing the Truth.”
Friends, allowing ourselves to become offended towards God is a real issue. It can happen. How will you respond when your prayers aren’t answered that way you wanted? What about when you don’t understand…when the questions come? Jesus tells us that we will be blessed when we do not take on offense towards Him and allow it to take root in our hearts. Throughout my seasons of heartbreak, I can boldly proclaim that I have been sweetly blessed! God’s Word to me has never failed to lead my heart through the valleys and dark places I never thought I would travel. It has not at all been easy but I decided a long time ago that there is NOTHING worth losing my relationship with the Lord, nothing! Not unanswered prayers, not misunderstanding, not offense, not bitterness, not divorce, not disappointments, not brokenness, not pain……NOTHING!
What about you? Sweet friend, can I encourage you to search your own heart? Do it before the hard things come. Determine that you will not let ANYTHING cause you to turn back as many did. Allow God’s Word to be the compass of your heart and NOT your misunderstanding of His higher ways. Remember His faithfulness to you in the past. Remind yourself of how very much He loves you. Let His truths be your anchor in the wrestling. Just like Peter, let’s follow Jesus and determine to not turn back…ever.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18