I grew up in church singing a hymn which included these words:
“Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
When I was growing up, my performance was tightly intertwined with my understanding of God’s unconditional love, or should I say my lack of understanding! I continually hit these huge bumps in the road of life. As the most bizarre or devastating situations occurred, I would began to tweak my performance thinking surely God would take away the pain or the situation if I were more pleasing to Him. And I would pray such heartfelt prayers. Many times He did not take either the pain or the problem away, and sometimes things got worse. From these times my faith and trust issues emerged, sadly at a very young age with insidiously deep roots, and we are not talking the good kind.
During these past few relationship growing years, God has helped verses like these put down new roots, the good kind, as the old are plucked away.
“I have told you these things so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work in you so you become mature and well-developed and not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4)
The good and the bad that have happened in my life are because God has a plan for me just as He has one for you. My prayers were not unanswered. Sometimes the answer was “no.” In His wisdom, God has allowed things to come into my life to mature me for this plan and to help me to find peace in Him despite the troubles He promised we would all experience. In His perfect, unconditional love for us He works all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Now that is not the verse I wanted to hear quoted to me after my fourth miscarriage, but it was true then and it is true now. Some things we will not understand this side of heaven. That is where faith and trust step in, and the responsibility of generating these two is a shared one, with God always meeting our needs if we ask according to His will, not ours!
The name of the hymn quoted above is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I can remember singing my daughter to sleep with the words of that song as my autistic son was literally screaming about something in another part of the house with his dad. I needed it to be true so badly. It didn’t feel like it then. Things were so difficult. Some years of James chapter one training have brought a maturity, a faith and trust in Jesus who is my friend and wants only the best for me, for you.
Don’t forfeit your peace any longer. Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer where, in His “died on the cross for YOU,” love Jesus will always, always greet you with open arms and carry your burden. Don’t wait another minute. He loves you right where you are, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done! That’s what unconditional love does! Surrender your life to Him! To God Be the Glory!