Last night I got some bad news, and I have to admit that I am really discouraged and disappointed. I keep thinking about how much I try to do everything right. I really try to be obedient. I read my Bible and I try so hard to take every word to heart. I’m feeling frustrated with God. I’m angry.
Right now I’m reading through Deuteronomy. One of the books’s main themes is the concept that obedience brings a blessing, but disobedience brings a curse. While it’s important that we learn from these passages that our God is a holy God and that we must obey him and approach him in the right way, I think that our humanity causes us to take such passages a step too far. We may wrongly assume that because we are trying to be obedient God owes us a blessing. We forget that God owes us nothing and that He blesses us because it is His good pleasure to do so. We get angry at the thought that we have been cheated out of something we’ve “earned.” When things don’t go my way I tend to lash out at God, feeling that He is unjust in denying me what I want. Like a toddler I throw a tantrum. I try to pray, but my prayers sound a lot like Job’s: What did I do? I try to do everything right. Why are you mad at me? I beg God to show me what I’m being punished for so that I can fix it. I don’t mean to imply that I am anywhere near as blameless as Job was. Not even close. Also, let me be clear, there is an ulterior motive behind my willingness to be corrected. Whether I realize it or not, I’m still trying to get what I want. Thankfully, God knows my heart, the good the bad and the ugly, and He loves me anyway. The Lord’s answer to me is the same as His answer to Job. He doesn’t thunder from the clouds, but He whispers to my heart. He reminds me: God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His holiness is far above our understanding. We cannot even begin to comprehend our own unworthiness. The lesson is that our God–the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job–is worthy of praise no matter the circumstance. It doesn’t matter how we feel about it. This is not a subjective concept. It is Truth-with-a-capital-T. God is inherently, irrevocably worthy of worship. It is a part of who He is.
None of these things had yet occurred to me when I began to pray this morning. My prayers were mostly complaints about my frustration. I told God that I didn’t understand. I asked him over and over to show me if I had done something wrong. Was I being punished? I confessed my sinfulness, and I asked for forgiveness. But, I didn’t feel any better. My heart was still anxious, and I still felt angry. So, I stopped talking. Instead I sat silently. After a few minutes I asked God, “What should I pray?” Then, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me and to show me how to pray correctly in this situation. I wasn’t asking Him to teach me the “right way” to pray, but to help me find the correct attitude within my prayers. In those quiet moments the lyrics of the song, Jesus Messiah, ran through my mind, specifically, All glory to you God the light of the world. I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart the need for me to glorify God. In my anger,my hurt, my frustration, my confusion, my helplessness, and my hopelessness I had to stop and give God the glory that He deserves. The fact is that He is worthy of all glory and honor and praise no matter how I feel. It is sinful for me to withhold the worship and adoration that He deserves simply because I’m not getting what I want out of my relationship with Him. That’s not how this works. If I truly understand even a little of His Word, of what He has revealed of Himself to me through the scriptures, then I will offer a sacrifice of praise even when it hurts. And I did. I declared to the Lord that He is worthy. I humbled myself and gave Him glory because He deserves it. I acknowledged that I deserve nothing. I admitted that I am helpless and powerless to control this situation. I asked Him to go before me with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and to provide as He sees fit. Things may not turn out the way that I want them to, but I also prayed asking that He would make me willing to accept whatever outcome He thinks is best. And, my heart changed. I felt a peace come over me as I was finally able to release all of my worry and my anger into His hands.
Please know that I do not share this story to make myself sound super spiritual. I 👏🏻 am 👏🏻 a 👏🏻 hot 👏🏻 mess. 👏🏻 I get SO frustrated with myself. Being human is hard. Life is aggravating and disappointing sometimes. I am learning that whatever happens, God still deserves all the glory and honor and praise that I can give. My willingness to worship him must be steadfast. I can’t be like a fallen leaf, at the mercy of every change in the wind. I must be determined to fight against my own fleshly desire to withhold worship just because I’m not “feeling it.” I’ve got to stop being petty. This is my act of true worship: to acknowledge that He is King of kings and Lord of lords even when He doesn’t rule in my favor (though always for my benefit). What’s more, He does indeed return blessing for my obedience. But, it’s not a material blessing. He doesn’t give me what I want. He gives me what I need: peace in the moment and perfect provision for the future. I know that however this current situation turns out that the Lord’s will is what’s best for me. I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me, that He dwells within me, and that He helps me know what to pray in moments like these. I hope that in reading my story, you will be encouraged to praise God in the midst of anything you may be going through. I pray that you will find peace in doing so. I pray that you will find comfort as you continue to pursue a relationship with Him. He truly is a good, good Father.