21 June 2012

Prayer for God Graciously Working in Our Pain

Have you ever felt like this?

   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
     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. We praise you as this day begins, continues and will end.
     When your people received these words of encouragement from Jeremiah, they were in exile in Babylon—a perfect opportunity for feeling bereft, bewildered, even betrayed by you. Yet we know by your own testimony, in this story and many others like it, 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 because you love us, not because you’re ashamed of us or angry with us (Heb 12:1-13).
     Forgive us when our whining is louder than our worship; when our contempt is more obvious than our contentment; when our fears take precedent over our faith. For 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—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 are the guarantee of our gospel prosperity, living hope, and glorious future. Apart from Jesus there is only unimaginable hopelessness. Because of Jesus there is 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 coming visitation of the Holy Spirit. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and compassionate name. - Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

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