Inexplicable

So Rachel Held Evans died. (Please see previous post) She was 37 and leaves a husband and two children – one of them not even one year old yet. She died of complications from flu. The Internet is full of people grieving for her – people who have benefitted from her sisterhood, her writing, or her ministry. I would like to add myself to that list. There are also the people who have prayed unceasingly for her healing.

There are also people who are putting articles on the Internet along the lines of “How does one react to the death of an apostate?”I will confine myself to noting that anyone who reacts with that kind of sentiment when a young mother has died, may possibly have no idea about anything Jesus ever said. (Disclaimer – these opinions are my own as you well know)

Prayer is a tricky subject. Petitionary prayer even more so. One one hand, there is the “Ask Anything And You Shall Have It” gang. On the other, the “Hold The Things You Desire Very Loosely Just In Case God Says No” people. This is all very well and good but when we seem to have been taught that faith is essential to prayer, it is difficult negotiating how to ask for things believing God wants us to have them and then trying to maintain a peace that God knows best and if he says no or makes us wait, then all will be well.

I don’t think any of you are here because you think that I have any answers. I most certainly do not. However, I have had a wander around some books and a few Dallas Willard sermons and have reminded myself of the following…

There is no such thing as a prayer that hits the ceiling and doesn’t reach God. Because God is under the ceiling – with us – involved, laughing, mourning, training, raising an eyebrow and saying “Really?”. Prayer is God’s day to day entry into our lives, as it is our entry into him. If it’s working properly, it is happening often, in our designated places and times as well as on the hoof. But the truth is that, even then, sometimes things don’t go as we ask and I seriously don’t know why.

Faith is also essential for prayer. Faith that we are heard. Faith that our best interests are at God’s heart and faith that God is not too small and that he is able. It is this faith that allowed Jesus to sleep in a boat in the middle of a storm while the disciples screamed at the top of their voices and ran up and down the boat doing hysterical jazz hands. (This is a perfect picture of how I react in a crisis as opposed to how I should react in a crisis) This was then followed by the disciples screaming “Don’t you even care?” (Also me)

We have to square the reality that not all petitions are answered with the equal reality of a caring God. I didn’t say it made sense. The thing that has made it a bit easier for me is realising that my relationship with God is a two-way street. Obviously, I say all the time that Jesus is my friend but I also have to get hold of the fact that I am his friend. He looks at me and sees his friend. This’s who I am to him. That’s what I am worth. And if that’s how he sees me then I have to try to trust his judgment when it comes to how he cares for his friends

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7 Comments

  1. May 6, 2019 / 6:03 pm

    Yes. Absolutely. Jesus knows the whole picture, and we have to trust even when we don’t agree with His choices.
    Good post.

  2. May 6, 2019 / 6:13 pm

    I meant to add that the very first Big Thing I experienced as a newbie Christian at university (we’re talking 1970s here, all David Watson and St Michael le Belfry) was prayering for the full return to health (and coming to know Jesus) of a student with skin cancer. He died. I did some very hard thinking.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that God/Jesus is to be trusted. (But I’m not that keen to go as far as testing that theory too deeply for myself – I’ve a cowardly streak in me a mile or so wide…)

    • lesleyps91
      Author
      May 7, 2019 / 8:55 pm

      Well, you could call it cowardly. I’d call it normal. No one really wants to be in a position where they put God to the test. Do they? nah.

  3. May 7, 2019 / 9:28 pm

    My heart aches for RHEs loved ones. And I cannot get my head around anyone who appears to be unconcerned about the death of a young mother, whatever her views, and can say unkind things. And I don’t understand Why. I trust God, believing He knows what He is doing. But I’m not connected closely so my feelings are not so important. And I wouldn’t want to be the Pastor who has to find the right words at the funeral. If I were her mother I’d be screaming with grief. And angry both with those who condemn her memory, and those who give glib answers. Lord, in your mercy, hear the prayers, and comfort those who mourn

    • lesleyps91
      Author
      May 8, 2019 / 8:52 pm

      Yup. You lot are saying it all much better than me.

  4. May 8, 2019 / 8:34 am

    Oh, my goodness! I hadn’t heard that Rachel Held Evans had died! What a profound shock for her family — may they be comforted and upheld in their loss and grief.
    When my grandfather died (not a young parent like Rachel, but only in his early 60s) the parish priest who took his funeral said that he must have completed the work he came here to do. That strikes a chord for me — feels right. It can be true even of a stillborn baby. Every life has its work and makes a difference, and our days are in God’s hands. How proud I would be to make even a fraction of the difference the life of Rachel Held Evans has made — and no doubt, even now and for all the years to come, her family will also be proud of her. She was a courageous warrior for truth, and a shining light. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

  5. lesleyps91
    Author
    May 8, 2019 / 8:53 pm

    And again – thank you, everyone, for spot on comments

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