I just finished the page proofs for my newest book, WRESTLING WITH WONDER, releasing with Zondervan Publishers this coming September. (YAY!) As I was reading and proofing, I came across this little section that I've been pondering today. I thought I'd share it for any of you who may be in a place in life where you didn't want to be, or who have faced things you didn't want to face, or are struggling with God saying "no" and instead allowing challenges that may seem like a nightmare-come true.
Right before this section, I talk about the prayers of Jonah (Jonah 4:2), Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-9), and Jesus (Matthew 26:36-46). Here's my thoughts . . .
The reason these men’s prayers weren’t answered in the way they’d hoped was not because God abandoned them, or because God didn’t love them, or because they’d used a wrong prayer formula. It wasn’t because they didn’t have enough faith, or had made God mad, or weren’t worthy.
Instead, it was because God was accomplishing his will not only for them, but for others around them. God was up to something that required more faith, more trust, more submission to his will. God had another plan. Saying “No!” to their prayers was the only way to accomplish that plan, God’s vision, for them and for us.
Just like Jonah, Paul, and Jesus, God takes us where we don’t want to go because he is doing something that is meant to glorify him through our lives, meant to bless others through us. His vision is bigger than our comfort, more glorious than our need for health, happiness, satisfaction, or even earthly life. He is doing something more, something wondrous, something nearly unimaginable.
In John 21:18-19, Jesus tells Peter:
“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
God’s main concern isn’t to make our nightmares go away. It’s to build our character, teach us to trust him more fully, and help us to make a difference in the lives of those around us as we find the deep places of God in the dark places of life. God’s will is that, by life or by death, we would glorify him.
So when he leads you where you don’t want to go, remember he is with you. He loves you. He is working his will. Yes, even in the nightmares.
Because there, he is whispering to you, “There is no other way to make you into the person I created you to be. This is the way, walk in it (Isa. 30:21).”Through fear, through terror, through every nightmare-come-true, he is saying, “Follow me!”