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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Because You Ask Amiss

 This week, I have been reminded of a simple, yet profound truth: that often my greatest disappointments are, in reality, my greatest soul-blessings that I could not otherwise live without. 
 Through my own struggles recently, and those of some closest to me, I've had to speak this over my heart and recall to memory that God is not after my comfort but rather, my growth. While I know this to be true, I so quickly forget it and am prone to question God when He changes directions on me unexpectedly. My human response is to say, "Hey God: didn't you get the memo?!" when what I should be saying is, "Forgive me, Lord, for ever thinking that I knew better." 
 And, when in the midst of great pressure and testing, I frequently ask God to remove the trial, forgetting that such a request is, most often, a lack of faith and desire for ease rather than sanctification. I pray for God to fix the situation when I should be asking Him to simply show me the blessing. 
 His goodness never fails. His love never runs out. I know this. But too often I neglect to preach this truth to myself in the midst of my challenges, and I choose the sinful response of ingratitude instead. Rather than choosing joy - rather than making the conscious choice to be thankful - I just turn right around and tell God to take away the pain. Take away the hurt. Take away the inconvenience of it all. I just want to be comfortable. 
 Thankfully, God doesn't answer these prayers that stem from my feelings. He patiently allows me to rant and puts up with my ungratefulness, but then gives me the truth I need desperately more: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3). Ah...yes...pleasure is, once again, what my foolish heart is after. And thus, I ask amiss. 
 Disappointment bound to happen to us all. Dreams die. Hopes are dashed. Plans change. It's the nature of life. But our response to all of those things is what determines our growth or lack thereof. God's primary goal is that we become more Christ-like in our attitude, and suffering is His primary means to achieving that purpose. He knows that, were He to leave us comfortable, we would never be forced to grow or change. It is in being made uncomfortable - in facing uncertainties - that we learn greater trust in Him and His marvelous plan. 
 Whatever it is that you may be going through right now...whatever may be tempting you to question God's goodness and His love toward you...whatever situation you may want out of...remember this: God placed you in it for a reason. Your place isn't to ask Him for removal of the difficulty but rather to obey and say "yes" to Him. Such surrender will often be on a moment-to-moment basis but, in the end, will result in great faith which could never have happened otherwise.