Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday's Faith - The Answer to the Question Many of Us Ask

Friday's Faith

The Answer to the Question Many of Us Ask

When I recently read in theologian and grief father Jerry Sittser's book When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayer, I found that I had not gotten very far into the book when I suddenly felt the strong urge to pick his book up and throw it as hard as I could across the room…

... Sittser was citing the story Jesus told regarding whose prayer is acceptable and whose is not, as Jesus went to the Temple and observed the prayers of the self-righteous Pharisee whose prayer was prideful and filled with many words, versus the humbled tax colliector's simple cry of desperation:

"His emptiness ran so deep that he could hardly name it, except to say that he needed God's mercy. 
"Barely able to speak, he choked out a short, simple prayer."

Sittser goes on to say, 

"Jesus said that it was the tax collector's prayer that proved to be the acceptable one, because (according to Sittser) he knew his true need and admitted it."

Then Sittser continued on:

"The heart of true prayer is this cry of desperation… (W)hat is most fundamental is the spirit of our prayers, the cry of the heart to get help from the only one who can meet our deepest need. 
"Desperation is the first and primary condition for true prayer...  Desperation forces us to pray as we ought."

When I read these words, I admit, my spirit plummeted. I was so furious, I had to put the book down. Not until tonight did I open it again to record his words here. 

Why was I so furious?

Because these were exactly the kinds of prayers Tommy and I had each been crying out to our God for our child. Abject desperation was present, and God clearly had to know that, sense that, and feel that coming from us. (And I am sure from many of us Child-Loss parents when we still had our child with us!)  So… if "the heart of true prayer is desperation,"

Why were our prayers denied?!

The only reason I could pick the book up again today was I received my answer, not through the book, but through THE BOOK. Amidst Scriptures, I had read many, many times, I read anew these words today, yet this time it seemed my "answer" leapt off the pages at me!

I was reading in Hebrews 11, often known as "The Faith Chapter" of the Bible because it elucidates many of God's early followers who chose to follow Him essentially blindly (by faith), and God used their lives mightily and was commending them for their faith… Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, to name a few, names we recognize as true fathers of our faith, who lived their faith to the end, yet this is what Scripture tells us:

All these people were still living by faith when they died. 
They.did. not. receive. the. things. promised; they.only.saw.them.and. welcomed. them. from. a. distance. 

~Hebrews 11:13

And they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

At the end of the chapter, the Scripture reiterates this message:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

~Hebrews 11:39

And I say, 

O what a party that will be, when our desperate cries are met--along with our loved ones--- "as only together with us"--- will we all be made perfect, with all of our prayers perfectly answered in one another's presence---together--- but this time, together... forever!!!

Picture, thanks to ~Journey of the Survivor (From Grief to Survival)


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