I was recently talking with a church planter who is struggling because of major issues with a child. The struggle has caused him to be off-balance in his relationship with God.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV
So, saying pious platitudes or Christian like sound bites to him won’t help. That’s not what he needs.
He knows that we can’t manage God through our obedience. He knows that passionate followers of Christ are not immune to suffering. He knows that often suffering is the dark background against which God displays His greatest glories.
Yet he can’t help but approach God with these thoughts, “Seriously, Lord? I have poured my life into the lives of others. I have sacrificed for You. And now You’re asking me to deal with this in my family? Who will pour into the life of my child? Where are You? Why are You allowing this? Is this what I get for serving You?”
The church planter knows better than to approach God that way. But that’s where he’s living at the moment. His raw in his honesty.
I spoke with a pastor at another church on Cleveland’s Westside about this problem. And he suggested that I tell the church planter that there’s a different way to pray.
So, I said to the planter, “Maybe there’s a better way to pray. What if you approached God while believed that you are on the same team? What if you believing that God wants the best for your child more than you do? What if you prayed this way: ‘Lord, I believe we are on the same team. I admit that I don’t understand You right now. My faith had been shaken. I don’t feel very much like a beloved child right now. I feel abandoned and unappreciated. There are so many things about this family crisis that I don’t like. I’m deeply concerned about the future of my child. I do wonder why You have allowed this to happen to my family. I wonder if this is the reward I get for faithful ministry. But I know You are a God of love. I know You love my family. I know You love my child. Therefore, I’m going to trust You. I believe that we are on the same team, You and I. I’m asking You for the grace to join You on Your team, on Your mission to restore and to renew. Show me what to do. Show me how to think. I will assist You in accomplishing Your gracious plan for my child and my family.'”
As I shared this “same team” approach to God with the church planter, I could sense a restoration of hope. I could sense an increase of faith. I could feel the despair and discouragement diminishing.
He said, “Same team, huh? I will take your advice. I think this conversation was a divine appointment.”
Maybe you know someone who’s confused by God and His unfolding plan for their life or family. Maybe that’s you. Perhaps a change of perspective is what’s needed.
Pray to God like He’s really on your team. That may just change everything.