Friday, January 25, 2019

Does the One I Pray to Understand?

The Bible refers to God by lots of different names. One of them is Immanuel (sometimes we see it spelled Emmanuel - same word). It means “God is with us”. According to my Bible study this morning - a study on the names of God by She Reads Truth (they have great studies, and I highly recommend them!) - this name “carries a sense of nearness, including intimate knowledge of the needs, struggles, and hopes of humanity.”

Reading that today made me pause. We hear Immanuel referenced a lot at Christmas when we talk about Jesus being born, so I’m thinking about it. Does Jesus have an “intimate knowledge of the needs, struggles, and hopes of humanity”? When I pour my heart out to Him and share all the struggles I’m facing this week, does He really get it?

Honestly, that concept is tough for me to grasp. I feel like I’m in a losing battle every day fighting for what’s left of life as I know it while this illness takes things from me little bit by little bit. On the other side, I have medical professionals who are playing guesswork and asking me to willingly hand over pieces of my life for a slim possibility of progress - pieces that I am holding on to in a death grip because I have already lost so much. Does Jesus really get it?

Let’s talk about some things Jesus faced -

  • He was homeless (Matthew 8:20)
  • He had family issues (Mark 3:21, John 7:5)
  • He was slandered by the religious leaders (Matthew 12:24)
  • His disciple denied him (Mark 14:66-72)
  • His friend betrayed Him for money (Mark 14:44-45)
  • He was beaten, spit on, and mocked (Mark 15:19)
  • He was hung on a cross (Mark 15:25)
  • He died on that cross for me. And for you (2 Cor 5:21)

So, yes. Jesus understands suffering. He understands loss. He gets it. When I pour my heart out to Him, He understands. He is Immanuel - God with ME, a God who understands my needs and struggles and hopes.

Where does that leave me, practically? I’m praying to a God who understands. That makes a difference. But I’m also praying to a God who has the power to change my situation and isn’t. That’s hard to handle.

Hang on. Jesus dealt with that one too, kind of. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for God to find another way to redeem mankind. He knew there was severe pain and suffering ahead. Jesus was fully God and fully human, and the human part was not looking forward to the “pierced for our transgressions” that was prophesied in Isaiah 53. So first he prayed for another way, but then He prayed “yet not what I will, but what you will”. Jesus knows what it’s like to want God’s will even when we are dreading the results. That conflict is not sinful. It is human.

So as I sit here begging God to change my situation, but also genuinely wanting His will for my life (because I truly believe His plan is for my good), Jesus knows what a prayer like that feels like. He has prayed one before. I’m scared that He won’t heal me. I’m afraid of just how bad things are going to get. I really want it to be over. But I also want  God’s will for my life to be played out because I know He loves me. He has a plan to give me a hope and a future! I can trust Him! God and I have a long history together that I can look back over and see all the ways He has proven Himself faithful and loving. I can echo King David when he says “I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

And when I pour my heart out to Immanuel, God with me, I know He gets it. He understands my needs, my struggles, and my hopes. And He understands my conflict between desperately wanting to be free of this illness and wanting God to have His way in my life.

Is that enough? Is knowing that Jesus understands what I’m going through enough to be able to echo His words: not what I will, but what you will? I wish I could say yes. I want to be able to say those words. I’m just not there yet. So I’m praying for God to be patient with me as I want to want His will above all. And I’m resting in the knowledge that He understands what I’m going through. And that is enough to get through today. And probably tomorrow.

**I'm going to add a little P.S. to this post. This post was the hardest one I've ever written. I just couldn't figure out how to get this struggle into words. I had some help from some very special people -  I want to say thank you to Drew (who walks with me every single day through it all) and Pastor Peter and Cheryl Nelson - thank you for your godly counsel and guidance!


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