“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait; bearing with us in love and patience until we are able honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
When I was a younger Christian I had a hard time with occasional episodes in my life which seemed to go against my beliefs and expectations of God.
I had somehow come to the conclusion that prayer was how you got what you wanted; that when hard things happened, you prayed ~ and in His own time, God would make it all work out the way you thought was best. I was puzzled when sometimes this didn’t happen. My faith would be challenged, because I had heard the hissing of the evil one in my ear whispering, “Surely God wouldn’t withhold good things from those He loves…” Eventually I understood that God had not promised to give me what I wanted, but what was best for my spiritual welfare, and that this might involve some difficult situations. Over time I realized that each time my faith was challenged I had to be brought to the place where I was at the end of myself and had to trust Him. It is a lesson which has had to be repeated over and over.
I would end up on my knees telling Him that I willingly let go of whatever it was that I wanted and that no matter what, I would trust Him. Then there would be peace for a while, and then would come another test of my faith: some situation where I wanted circumstances to change or at least an explanation, and there was no clear response. I would pray and study and try to puzzle out what was happening and there would still be silence. Not much happened until I could realize that what was happening was yet another test of wills: my will against circumstances which only He could change. I knew what I wanted, and I was refusing to accept that God might not let me have it. It wasn’t until I again could say, truthfully, “Thy will be done” that I could move on and have peace.
One of the things we seem to have lost recently is the awareness that we, as His creatures, are to be in submission to His will. He is sovereign. If we are at all conscientious about our faith, we will have experienced various challenges to our faith, and have come to the place where we have had to submit. There are circumstances in our lives which we can change. There are other circumstances which only God can change. If we spend all our energy fighting the things we can’t change, we will waste a lot of time and spiritual strength. The other and possibly the most important part of all this is that we must trust in His love for us. I can’t say that I have always understood why God didn’t allow certain things in my life which seemed wholesome and positive. I have had to realize that He is the One Who knows all things from beginning to end, and trust that He is always on my side, no matter what circumstances seem to be telling me.
There are several kinds of suffering and pain. There is suffering for the sake of Christ. There is suffering through the consequences of sin in the universe, like disease or catastrophes. There is also suffering as a consequence of sin in our own lives. At the same time, God is Love. (1 John 4:8) We know that He loves His children, yet all of us have experienced that He also sometimes allows pain of different kinds. He knows our frame. He knows those things which, although seemingly good, might become idols and keep us from holding Him in preeminence. He knows those things which might tempt us to be drawn back into the world. He knows when we need to be humbled or disciplined, or when He can trust us with suffering in the cause of drawing us closer to Him. We are to be on the path which moves us toward being like His Son. We sometimes forget that the life of Christ involved suffering beyond the Cross. He was despised and rejected; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3) Our Father may allow some degree of suffering and pain in our lives in order that we may be able to see, in some degree, the world through the eyes of Christ. It may be impossible to be like Him unless we also understand pain. If so, this is the place in our lives where we hope we will be able to say, “Thy will be done”, and mean it.
Elisabeth Elliott quotes here