Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV).
Sometimes it is difficult let go of our own understanding of things, especially when it comes to the things of God. Face it; there are times when things do not make sense to us –at all. The concept that God is in control seems far-fetched when life around us is chaotic, and the world as we know it does not resemble anything godly. It can be compounded by the times when we ask God to intervene in circumstances, and it appears that everything moves in the opposite direction of what we think should happen. It’s as if He turned a deaf ear to our prayers. In some cases, it may even appear that things are worse than before we prayed. It does not help when we talk to a brother or sister in order to gain clarity, only to have platitudes quoted to us, or when they turn Scripture into pat-answers. You know the ones like, “God’s ways are above our ways, and His thoughts are above our thoughts.” Yep, that really helps! We may have been guilty of doing the same things. Do not be too hard on them; sometimes people say things like that because they think they have to give an answer to our quandaries. It does pay to remember that God’s thoughts and ways are above our ways, especially when He sees the total picture and we do not.
One thing that does help for us is to remember is that God truly does love us. Keeping that in mind, on our road to the mountaintop, sometimes the Lord needs to set up a detour through the valley in order to prepare us for the higher position. After all, the valleys are at the foot of the mountains. Everyone prefers to take the direct route to his destiny, but it is not necessarily the best route. This is especially true of spiritual issues. For example, James 4:10 tells us, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (KJV). This ties in with Proverbs 3:7, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (KJV). The valley is a place of humility in which we quit relying on our own wisdom and turn to God’s. As long as we decide to pridefully rely on our own understanding of things, we will never be in a position for the Lord to lift us up.
Not only does God love us; He loves those for whom we pray –even more than we do. We need to keep that in mind when pray for others, especially if after praying things “get worse for them.” Here is an example of a prayer that many of us have prayed: “Lord, please save my loved one.” Without realizing it, that can be a loaded prayer. Have you ever prayed that prayer for someone, and suddenly his life seemed to unravel? Romans 2:4 asks us, “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4, KJV)? Sometimes a person will not look up until he is on his back. Adding more detail to this example, lets say that the one we prayed for had everything going for him and as a result was filled with pride. That pride prevented him from surrendering his life to Jesus Christ because he did not “need Him; he had everything.” As a result, the Lord allows his business goes south, and he loses everything for which he worked so hard. Finally, he is at the end of himself, and turns his eyes upward. It seems cruel to the casual eye, but what is crueler, allowing him to continue on to an eternity without Jesus, or losing his worldly possessions in order to gain eternal life with God? Please understand that this is not to say that every time we pray for someone things are going to get worse for him. It also does not mean that every time we pray things will go the opposite direction or things have to get worse before they get better. There are plenty of examples of prayers that were answered the way people had hoped. The bottom line is that God knows what it takes to get us to the best destination, and loves us enough to get us there. A person may indeed lose everything before coming to Jesus Christ, but the Lord may also restore and multiply everything that was lost. Again, He may not restore the earthly possessions he had before. But then, we’re not home yet! Whatever the abundant life God intends for us is the best.