Friday, October 26, 2012

A Prayer about God working in Hard Providences and Pain

A Prayer about God Working in Hard Providences and Pain
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jer. 29:11
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[a] who[b] have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28
     Heavenly Father, there’s simply no other god as merciful, gracious, and engaged as you. Your forbearance is immeasurable; your kindness is inexhaustible; your plans are irrepressible—though, sometimes, it doesn’t seem this way to us.
     When your people received these words of encouragement from Jeremiah, they were in exile in Babylon—cut off from their homeland and all hope. How could they not feel bereft, bewildered, even betrayed by you? And there are times when our circumstances seem to say you don’t really care and aren’t really present…
     Yet we know, by the truth and promises of your Word, that when you lead us into difficult seasons, it’s not to punish us but to prosper us; when you send hardships, it’s not to bring us harm but to give us hope; when you discipline us, it’s not to send us into the “doghouse” of your displeasure but to guarantee the wonder of our future.
     It’s comforting to remember that you always know exactly what you are doing with your people, and everything else in the world. You know the plans you have for us—individually and corporately. There’s no happenstance in heaven. You don’t make up things as you go along. You’re not a God who reacts out of irritation, but one who always acts out of great affection. There are no coincidences, just providences. “Stuff” doesn’t just happen; sovereignty is always happening.
     Father, this way of thinking would be utter madness if you never sent Jesus—a big-time spitting into the wind; the spin of all spins; delusional at best, demonic at worst. But Jesus is the “yes” to every promise you have made. His life, death, and resurrection have secured for us the riches of the gospel, a living hope and a most glorious future. Apart from Jesus there is only unimaginable hopelessness; but, because of Jesus, we have joy unspeakable.
     So bring the truth, grace, and power of this gospel into our current situations, into our personal stories of pain, into the brokenness our local churches, and into the needs of our communities.
Turn our sighs into songs, our cynicism into servanthood, and our grumblings into the rumblings of a kingdom that has come and is coming in fullness. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and compassionate name.

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