Saturday, March 3, 2012

God Works in the Unexpected

One of the most difficult things to grasp is the relationship between what we’ve prayed for and the answer to the prayer. We can see the result of something simple, such as praying for a check to come, for instance, and the tangible result of it making it into our hands. It’s not difficult to see that God just answered our prayer.

The hard part is when we’ve prayed for something that is a bit more complicated and then suddenly something happens that doesn’t look like God at all. God works best in the unexpected. He uses divine strategy to use the element of surprise and catch the enemy (and people) off guard, and He launches a situation for which no one seems prepared. Out of no where the situation gets even more complex and frustrating, maybe even enough to scare the wits out of you, and it looks like things are getting worse instead of better. People often blame the devil for causing trouble (and believe me, he does look for opportunity where he can find it!) but the reality may well be that the complexity of the situation is God bringing the answer to your prayers. Be careful not to add to the problem by fighting against His chosen methods. If He is going to change a situation then He must rearrange the situation altogether, right?

I have experienced situations that seemed like it could not be God, yet it was. Sometimes we can’t see it while we’re in the middle of it, but after the fact we recognize that even though God’s methods might not agree with our own, it was still Him answering the prayer and fulfilling a need for change.

When things turn upside down God can still be very much in control. He orchestrates certain events that we may feel uncomfortable with, but often God has to pull things apart in order to expose the need for change - before He puts things back in order. The middle of the storm is never fun though.

I know of a church that was praying for revival, only to have the pastor and leadership be exposed for wrongdoing. Talk about a mess. But in the midst of it, you know what happened? People got concerned about their own lives being exposed and they started to get right with God. After repentance comes a revived heart and renewed passion for God. So, did God answer? Yes, even though it wasn’t what others may have had in mind when they started praying!

I’ve known of people that have prayed for a loved one to get saved or delivered from something, only to have a heartbreaking situation occur that they had not anticipated. Those things hurt, and we wouldn’t wish them on anyone, but sometimes those heartbreaking situations are needed in order to prepare a person for truly getting set free, healed or delivered. I remember a time when I was praying for someone and even getting “clues” in my dreams about situations. Then the day came when we got some bad news and suddenly I knew who and what those dreams had been about. Had I known, I probably would not have prayed the way I did, because if I had known, I would have wanted to spare that person pain. But you see, God knows this too, and sometimes He doesn’t tell us the individual on purpose. He just wants us to pray objectively, not trying to impose our will into a situation, and pray the best way we know how for His perfect will to come forth.

There was another time when I was praying for someone’s family to have a breakthrough and the Lord was very clear it would occur in a certain amount of time. I prayed, and waited, and on the very day when God said it would happen, someone in that particular family died. It’s shocking to think that these are some of the unexpected ways in which God can work to set others free or bring a change in a situation. But we have to trust that He knows best. We have to trust that God knows and understands things from a much higher perspective than what we can see from our natural understanding.

I hear of people every day where it would seem that they are going backwards. They encounter financial difficulty and have to move in with family, for instance. But in one situation recently I had an opportunity to encourage a young couple and help them see a different side of their situation that hadn’t occurred to them. “God is healing families,” I said. “Perhaps there is a bigger reason for you going home to live. Maybe someone there is going to need you. Maybe God is in the midst of another situation you haven’t thought about.” That answer seemed to bring peace to their troubled thoughts. One way for God to heal relationships is by bringing people together. Things that people tend to see as negative situations can be opportunities in disguise. We just have to look for God’s purpose. Are you looking at your situation with eyes of faith, or fear and frustration?

Many answers to prayer bring great joy and celebration. And some do, just not at first, because there are times when people can’t discern that God is in the midst of them doing something quite important. Jesus is known to have told His disciples, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.“ (John 13:7. Keep in mind, Jesus often works in ways we do not understand. Some things are only understood after the chaos has ended and the bigger picture has been fulfilled.

God is in your midst changing and rearranging situations that you have prayed for. We also have to remember that just because something hurts or feels uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s always the devil. Many times it’s God. We don’t like it when He works outside of our understanding, do we? Fear and insecurities rise up and will try to make people resist God and try to control a situation. Just take your hands off and stand back. Let God be God. He is big enough to handle whatever it is! The problem is, often times what we want and decide is best is not God’s will. It’s not God’s best for us, and because it’s not, as a loving Father, He will make decisions that are in our best interests. He chooses His particular instruments to fulfill particular tasks. He chooses the least likely candidate to fulfill His purpose, even if you or I can‘t see the purpose He is working out. He takes the very thing that others see as weak, unprepared, inadequate, inexperienced and too small to do the job at hand. He might even choose someone that offends you. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Cor. 1:27-29)

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 1 Cor. 1:19

He uses the small to confront the proud. Remember how David, a young shepherd boy, confronted the proud Philistine giant? In the eyes of the giant, David was nothing. Humility (smallness) allows a person to get close enough to the giant to slay it. God will use a child to do a man’s job if that child is humble and compliant in the Master’s hand.

He used a donkey to talk sense into a self willed prophet. That's pretty crazy even for God, don't you think?

He used a man named Gideon who was so caught up in his insecurities that he was hiding from the problem.
He can use what you don’t expect to answer your prayer, so trust Him.

God uses what is small and insignificant in the eyes of others to take down giants, topple kingdoms, and rearrange situations so that God can achieve His plan and purpose.

God’s will of what He wants to fulfill, and how He chooses to interpret what we pray may look a whole lot different by the time it works itself out. We pray what we think is His will, yet somewhere between heaven and earth, things may change. By the time the prayer gets to the throne room, we have to trust Holy Spirit has edited the prayer so that it brings about God’s perfect will for that particular situation. If we don’t let go of our preconceived ideas of how we think God should answer prayer, it can cause a lot of hurt feelings, discouragement, false accusation, slander, and much much more. God is big enough to handle whatever situations may occur. He might just call your name the next time He is looking for the right person for the job - but remember, He looks for those that are small.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say Thank you for this post. I was lead to read this right before my situation turned upside down. It's like I was prepared before it even happened. I read this from time to time to remind myself that some things need to fall apart before they fall into place.