Do you ever find yourself complaining to the Lord? Did I hear you say “frequently”? What if He just stopped listening to your complaints? Or maybe that’s the very thing you are complaining about – that feeling that God is not listening. Or if He is, He is not responding.
We’ve all been in that place before. That place of doubt. And we’ve sometimes wondered if indeed God just wound up the universe and left it to run on its own, as some philosophers have proposed.
There are Scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, where God’s people felt that way. For instance, in Psalm 77:1-9 we read:
“I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
‘Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?’ ”
There are very strong feelings of abandonment behind those words; feelings of being alone in the moment; of having nowhere to turn.
When God is all you have, the One you have depended on, and He seems not to be there; or not to be aware; or even not to care – it calls up the image of the clock maker who wound up the clock, went off on a trip, and has forgotten to return; when the clock winds down, it will simply stop and time will cease. In the meantime, it’s up to you to fend for yourself the best you can.
At times like these the enemy whispers, as he did in the Garden to Eve, “Did God really say . . . ?” . . . and . . . “If you eat that fruit, you’ll be as smart as He is and can figure it out for yourself; you won’t need Him.” . . . and . . . “Maybe He said you would die if you eat that special fruit, but you won’t surely die.” (Read the dialogue in Genesis chapter 3.)
I had a moment not long ago – a brief moment – when I felt that God had forgotten about this creature which He has made. I told Him that what I am going through is very hard; and the hardest part is waiting – for a change, for a miracle, or for new direction. It’s interesting that when we have to “wait on God” we doubt that we heard correctly from Him, while doing what we were sure He led us to do.
Anyway, in that unguarded moment I said to the Lord, “You don’t know what it’s like to have cancer, you never had cancer.” I spoke those words with utmost sincerity. And though I expressed what I felt at the moment, I suddenly caught a glimpse of Jesus’ face, and I felt embarrassed; and then I felt ashamed.
It brought back memories from years ago when my wedding engagement was broken and I cried to God from my pain , “You don’t know what it takes to make me happy. Or You don’t care?” (Even though I had prayed for His will in whom I was to marry.) And when I later married and miscarried after waiting nine years to get pregnant, I accused: “Why did you let this happen? I was better off before, not caring if I had a child.” Aka: You don’t know what I need, and if you do, where are you?
I didn’t feel ashamed at those earlier times, though God taught me some valuable lessons in spite of my complaining. But now, years later, with more maturity and more experiences of God’s love and care, I seem to be more sensitive to His pain – immediately after doubting His love.
Last week at our weekly Lifegroup meeting the question we discussed was a random question that someone had placed in our question jar: “How do you know God is real?”
Various members told why and how they came to know that God was real. For some it was an internal witness of the Spirit, that experience of a gentle presence; for others the stories were of dramatic provisions and life-saving miracles – called “coincidences” by unbelievers.
The life event that God called to my mind involved an auto accident I had about 30 years ago. (You can read about it in my post entitled Accidental Encounters.) As I shared the many God-pieces of that accident experience, I relived the awe all over again, and in the re-telling I sensed His Spirit moving in me; so-much-so that during the next several days I recalled other incidences of provision, and rescue, and fruit that has resulted from obedience to God’s voice over the years.
The Psalmist had a similar experience to mine, which he recorded in the next section of his Psalm of praise:
“Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.”
If you are in one of those “free-fall” moments and you are not sure how you are going to land, don’t panic. And don’t allow the enemy to trap you into complaining – to God or to others. Stop and take a breath. Make a cup of hot tea; sit down in a comfortable chair, and remember.
Remember all that God has brought you through so far. Even though you may not have recognized God’s hand in your circumstances, see if you can picture Him there now – in the loving act of a friend or the kind deed of a stranger; in an unbelievable “coincidence”, an unexplainable calm in the midst of an emergency, or an unexpected peace in the midst of tragedy. These are all small miracles that point to the God of big miracles; the God who can be trusted with your life and every need you have.
Complaint department is closed. And God’s arms are wide open.
©2013, Marcy Alves
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month – not that I am unaware of breast cancer the rest of the year; I have breast cancer, with which I was diagnosed about 4½ years ago.
I had been diagnosed with breast cysts several times in my life – once just before David and I were married 34 years ago. I had surgery and a fairly large double-cyst was removed, which was benign. Several other times cysts were found, diagnosed as benign and not removed, they seemed to disappear.
The day I received the cancer diagnosis from a mammogram and follow-up ultrasound, I wasn’t surprised, and yet I was. Among those who know me best, I was known to have a healthy lifestyle of diet, exercise, and spiritual life. But cancer is no respecter of persons. Obviously my immune system was not healthy enough to ward off the cancer. Which I should have suspected some ten years earlier, when I developed shingles, following an emotionally challenging mission trip to Brazil.
Anyway – from whatever cause – there it was staring at me from the x-ray photography, and verified by the biopsy pathology report – breast cancer “in-situ”.
We came home from the surgeon’s office, feeling a little numb – it felt like a day out of time – like I was watching a movie of someone else’s life.
My husband volunteered to call our family and a few close friends for prayer while I spent some much needed time with my Heavenly Father. Several of my older blog posts have come out of that on-going experience.
How am I doing today? Still waiting and trusting and leaning into the arms of my Savior; still waiting to hear the next directive from Him; finding more than my sufficiency in His love; wondering if all of His purposes for permitting this invasion of the flesh have been accomplished. And holding on to His the words spoken into my spirit the day of the original diagnosis:
“Don’t be afraid.” “Trust me.” “This is not just for you.” “Wait on Me.” “Be still and know that I am God.”
For any readers who are facing the challenge of breast cancer, or any other kind of cancer, no matter what course of treatment you may choose or have chosen, may those five words connect with you in the midst of your personal crisis.
President F. D. Roosevelt said at the time of WWII,
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
So don’t be afraid. Trust God to bring you through. Wait on Him for direction, comfort, and healing of your body and spirit. Be still long enough to “know” that He alone is God – that however the healing comes, it is His hand that is healing you.
Pray for and with me and others who are on the battlefield with you against this enemy from hell.
I believe that “in the beginning” when God created earth and sky and sea; plants and animals, and the crown of His creation – MAN, He placed in the creation whatever is needed for physical healing. Pray that our Father leads someone to discover His cure for cancer.
Where there is God, there is life. Where there is life, there is hope. May you learn to live in hope by living in God.
©2012, Marcy Alves
Does “waiting” seem to be a normal part of your life? What do you do with unexpected “waiting” times? I am not a very patient “waiter”.
Yesterday was going to be a day for writing and a trip to the hair dresser; I hadn’t decided which to do first, because I was waiting for a return call from my beautician.
Just after my shower, I received an emergency call from my niece; she was having muscle spasms in her back which caused intense pain; she needed to go across town to the walk-in clinic. Due to that spasm, she was neither able to lift her 20-month old daughter, Ellie, nor to drive herself to the clinic. So, my decision between a morning of writing and a visit to the hair dresser was resolved for me.
I drove my niece to the clinic, then, sat with Ellie while her mom was in the examination room. We waited and waited for the exam to be completed. The wait lasted about 2 hours; the examining doctor had decided that x-rays were necessary for a proper diagnosis.
Have you ever sat in a waiting room for 2 hours? With a 20-month toddler in your care?
Actually, Ellie is more than a toddler; she is a runner – with lots of energy! And the waiting room had lots of running space, including a space in front of an automatic sliding door. It amazes me that a 25-pound tiny toddler can activate an automatic sliding door. It also seemed to amaze her . . . and amuse her. I didn’t actually remain seated for much of the 2-hour waiting period.
Someone once said that a natural way to meet people is through dogs or children. Ellie is a very out-going child, which became evident in the waiting room – each new patient who entered those automatic doors was soon greeted with a “Hi!” and a smile, adults and children alike. As a result it became easy for me to start conversations with some of the other “waiters”, particularly those with young children. In a couple of instances I said we would pray for the sick child, which I did silently, so as not to embarrass or offend.
However, as I look back on the waiting room experience, I feel that I was more distracted by my very active grand-niece than attentive to the Lord. It was only after coming away from the experience that a light bulb clicked on in my head; a waiting room experience can be a natural setting for a season of prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 ”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert . . .”
People who find it necessary to come into a walk-in clinic are usually faced with an immediate need – a pain, a high fever, a bad cough that won’t go away, numbness, a disabling symptom of some sort that aspirin or Tylenol won’t relieve. Many of them are worn out from coping with their own or their loved ones’ presenting symptoms – many are fearful of what the cause of the symptom might be. Some are anxious about how to pay for the medical expenses related to the illness or disability.
What a potential place of ministry! According to a clinical double-blind study conducted at a Boston hospital, patients who are prayed for, even when they don’t know they are being prayed for, respond better to treatment and heal faster than those receiving no prayer. It seems to have little to do with their faith, but with the faith of those who pray, in the God who answers prayer.
I wrote last year about a young woman from our church family who was at death’s door; in fact she was thought to be dead several different times when she stopped breathing. In a Boston hospital where we visited her, there was an attendant assigned to watch her. For much of that time, Georgia was unconscious. But the woman prayed sincerely and fervently and with total faith that Georgia would be raised up. Georgia is currently home and working again.
When we spoke with that nursing attendant, we found that her habit is to be a prayer warrior for each of the patients to whom she is assigned as a watcher.
So, the next time you find it necessary to go to a doctor’s office or a walk-in clinic, or an emergency room – or the next time you visit someone in a hospital or nursing care facility, make attentive, listening prayer a part of your reason for being there.
Philippians 6:4b “ . . . in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God . . .”
There are miracles waiting to be delivered, if we learn to make faith-filled intercession a part of our daily lives.
Have you had any “waiting room” prayer experiences you care to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Are you in one of those waiting places now?
©2012, Marcy Alves