A few months ago I shared with you guys that I was praying for suffering.
A coworker of mine asked me about it. His very valid question was: if suffering is coming for us all (which it is) and if suffering is not good times (which it isn’t), do we actually need to pray for it?
I get that. A lot of believers cast themselves in the role of martyr and forget that this life is designed to be one of deep joy.
All the same – I told my coworker that I wanted to pursue everything that would help me finish this race, and according to the Bible, suffering will not only help me finish this race, it is necessary to finish this race. So I prayed for it.
But since that time, I’ve seen another huge reason to pray for suffering flesh out in my life:
Praying for suffering makes the suffering itself a gift.
Don’t get me wrong, suffering is a gift for a believer whether you pray for it or not. I think that’s biblical. But, praying for suffering makes it easier to see it as a gift. It makes the blessing of suffering more obvious.
Just a few short weeks after I began praying for suffering, I heard the news about my dad.
Everyone in the world is going to lose a parent or be lost by a parent. In light of that, it’s been surprising to me that it can still be so unexpected and painful.
My initial reaction was also surprising.
I’m not lying when I tell you that one of my first five thoughts when I heard the news was: God is faithful.
Because I had been praying for suffering, this news – that might have otherwise been something that caused me to question God’s caring love – instead was a confirmation that He is up there listening and acting and eager to engage me in His sovereign plan through prayer.
I’m not a super Christian. I have more than my fair share of fist-shaking-at-sky moments and I’m not that girl who receives every challenge with hymns of praise.
I think those people are neat, but I’m not one of them.
So I was as surprised as anyone that my heart was so filled with faith in that moment. The Spirit made promises like James 5:16 come alive through faith.
“the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”
Boy oh boy. If there’s ever a time you need to believe that God hears you, it’s when suffering comes.
A few weeks after I had that first thought I remember standing in a field crying because God felt so far and so disinterested in my life. He felt so…un-hearing.
Praying can sometimes seem like swimming upstream. It can sometimes feel foolish and irrelevant.
But it’s not that way. I know that because I have this ebeneezer. I have a prayer written on a blog post and evidence that God has answered.
I’m so thankful for the prayers He prompted in my heart to involve me in His sovereign plan.. I’m thankful that He ordained them. I’m thankful that He heard them. And I’m thankful that He answered them.
I’m now a bigger fan than ever of praying for suffering. It makes news like the kind I have received seem like it’s happening for me and not ‘to’ me. Even the worst of news can seem like the answer to a prayer. Even the worst of news can provide evidence of the faithfulness of God.