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Devotional: Not My Will, But Yours

Not My Will, But Yours Devo Pic


Most weekends, I leave church feeling a mixture of conviction and encouragement. The gospel of grace is an assurance that can encourage me even in my deepest convictions. Regardless of what struggle God has placed on my heart while listening to the sermon, I know that the love of Jesus is greater than my sin and as God calls me to be more like Christ, there is endless grace poured out on me. However, this weekend was different for me. I left church feeling discouraged and frustrated, with God and myself. I prayed and asked God for wisdom as I prepared to write this devotional. In all honesty, I have been feeling like my struggle with this passage meant I was unfit to write this at all. But I have also felt God calling me to share this struggle – not because I have an answer to make myself feel better, but because this is a real struggle that Christians experience. And as Pastor Barry reminded us, God can handle our skepticism and doubt. So, here goes…

My struggle has less to do with the sermon and more to do with the passage. In this passage from 2 Kings, a wealthy woman welcomes Elisha into her home as a servant of God. She calls upon her husband to make a special room for him that he is to use when he travels through their town. Elisha, in an effort to thank her for her hospitality and generosity, asks her what he can give her. Although the woman says she does not want anything, his servant points out that she is childless, and Elisha tells her that she will have a son. Within a year, she bears a child and this boy grows up to be a man. One day, after complaining of a headache, he is sent to his mother where he dies in her arms. She places him on Elisha’s bed and goes to seek Elisha. He returns with her and after praying and stretching himself upon the boy, life returns to his body. You may be thinking that there is nothing discouraging about this passage! It is a direct testament to God’s goodness and in some ways, parallels the resurrection of Christ. Despite the happy ending of this story, I still found myself struggling. What would this passage have looked like if the woman’s son did not rise up and walk again? What if he had remained gone?

A few months after Josh and I were married, a new season of one of my favorite tv shows aired. Two of the main characters included a young couple who had dated for several years, married recently and had welcomed a little girl into their new family. In some ways, their relationship paralleled my relationship with Josh. But when the newest season aired, it was revealed that the husband had passed away as a result of an unexpected health incident following an injury that was thought to be healing well. I’m not entirely sure why this triggered my fear, but as a result of the plot line in the show, I became terribly afraid that something would happen to Josh and I would lose him. I shared my struggle with him and we talked about it at length. I believe my fear stemmed from the reality that I know there are times when my love for Josh is greater than my love for the Lord. I was afraid that God would take Josh away so that, as Pastor Barry said in reference to the woman’s loss of her son, I would “focus on the giver rather than the gift.”  Josh reminded me that God does not take things away to punish us and that His mercy and grace abound in all circumstances. But then I was faced with the question: if God did take Josh away from me, would I still be able to speak of His goodness? I prayed about this at the time, but never felt like I had a clear answer from God. I hadn’t thought about it again until this past Sunday when I was faced with this same question all over again.

Now, we have a precious little boy who is just a few months old. When I read the story of the woman and her son, I wondered what I would have done if I had been in the woman’s situation and Wesley had been taken from me. Pastor Barry pointed out that the woman acted in faith when she sought Elisha after her son’s death, but why did she seek him? Did she know that through him, God would bring her son back to life? I am not sure what the woman expected but I desperately wish that I could ask her about her faith in those days when her son was gone. We know this particular story ended with her son returning to her, but what about the many sons and daughters who do not return? What about the soldiers who have died in Afghanistan this week and will not come back to see their mothers one more time? What if God took Wesley from me tomorrow?

So now, I am faced with this struggle: I am afraid of my reaction if God were to do something like this to me. Would I react in faith, or would my bitterness and anger drive me away from God? I know what I am called to do – in all things, He is worthy of our praise. I know that Jesus is enough for me. I know that if God took Josh and Wesley from me that I would have all I need in Christ. But I am not sure I would want to praise God if He took my family away from me. And I feel so ashamed. And even more afraid that because of this, God will fulfill this fear to reveal my unbelieving and faithless heart.

As I sit here, typing on my tear-streaked keyboard, I am also wrestling with the reality that God has not yet revealed to me how He is calling me to surrender in this struggle, nor has He given me assurance that I would react in faith if faced with a situation like this. I have prayed and confessed my fear to Him and I have admitted that I am even afraid to pray about it, for I am unsure of how He will respond. But as Pastor Barry pointed out in his sermon, God wants us to bring our fears and struggles to Him. He desires to show us His love through our doubt and skepticism.

I wish that I had answers for the people who have lost loved ones. I wish that I had answers for those who have prayed for non-believers who have passed without professing faith in Christ. I wish that I had answers for myself… These things are hard and if you have experienced this, my heart weeps alongside yours. But I do not believe God wants us to hide that from Him. Jesus was afraid. His fear was so strong that he sweated blood. And in His fear, He turned to God in prayer and said, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Praying this feels like a death sentence, but perhaps this is the first step God is calling me to take in surrendering to Him so that He may grow my faith to proclaim His goodness, always. Perhaps, He is calling you to this as well.

Photo Credit: Miranda Shaw