I trust God, but sometimes I like to give God suggestions. You know just in case he was 50/50 on what to do, I like to interject by bright ideas and tell him how he could make things work out really good. I occasionally even tell God how he could do “cool things”, as if he was sitting on his throne in heaven stumped over how he could pull off something cool today and he was waiting on me to help him.
Do you do that too? Do your humble prayers sound more like, “Oh good heavenly Father, you are all-knowing and all-powerful, now use your power to make this work out for me the way I want. And go ahead and make it really cool. Amen.”
Yip, mine too.
I wonder what God thinks of our ideas of taking the path of least resistance. I wonder how God views our tendency to desire what is fastest and easiest. I wonder how God feels about our complete avoidance of hardship, struggle, and suffering.
Well, there just so happens to be a story in the bible about this exact thing. Let’s read it together.
Matthew 16, Jesus is walking along with his disciples. They’re doing awesome miracles together and making a huge impact every where they go. In fact, they had just finished feeding the crowd of thousands with a small amount of bread and fish. Now they know his power. The disciples know Jesus is the One. They’re all in.
Verse 21-23 “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Understand Peter was just trying to save Jesus from suffering. He was trying to find an easier way. He was trying to fix this. And Jesus said, THIS SUFFERING DOESN’T NEED TO BE FIXED. THIS HARDSHIP DOESN’T NEED TO BE AVOIDED.
That’s a hard pill to swallow. I want my suffering and your suffering to be fixed. Like immediately. I don’t want times to be hard for anyone. If there was something I could do to ease my friend Nicky’s pain after losing her husband 3 weeks ago, gosh I would do it. If I could lift the suffering of my friend who just lost her baby, I would do it. If I could make your marriage problems go away, I would in a heartbeat. If I could solve your financial problems, boom, it would be fixed in an instant. If I could lift your burdens… If I could clear the way… If I could bring your child back… If I could restore what has been broken…
I would be like Oprah. You get a new car. You get a good marriage. You get health. You get a whole child. You get a bonus. You get a baby. You get a tiny waist. You all get EVERYTHING! No suffering. No struggle. No waiting. All your problems are fixed and there’s nothing but sunshine and glitter ahead, my friend. And my work would be complete … I fixed it all for you … If I could.
And to that, Jesus would say to me, “Satan, get behind me!”
Why? Because just like Peter, I’m focusing on the wrong thing. I’m focusing on human concerns and overlooking the fact that God’s concerns are bigger, greater, and far beyond anything I can imagine. God is in the eternal game where current suffering will be redeemed. I tend to play in the right now game where suffering is always avoided.
In your effort to avoid the suffering, go around the hardship, and skip the waiting line, have you become a stumbling block? Remember, that’s what Jesus called Peter. He was a stumbling block. His attempt to fix everything was in the way of God’s good plan.
Honey, what if your attempt to fix everything is in the way of God’s good plan?
What if God doesn’t need us to fix anything, and instead he needs us to partner with him in the bigger picture of what he is doing. What if this isn’t about what you’re going through right now, this is about what this will create for the future. What if God has magnificent plans that are so far above and beyond your scope of imagination, but the only way to get to them is through this stuff that doesn’t make sense?
You know, this stuff you want to avoid.
This stuff you want to skip.
This stuff you’ve been giving God “suggestions” on fixing.
Okay God, so this is going to fall apart?
This is going to hurt?
This isn’t going to work the way I had hoped?
Now isn’t the time?
I don’t like it, but I trust you. I will not try to fix your plans. I won’t get in the way of your work with my suggestions of an easier way.
God has been trying to clear the way in your life, and you know what he’s been trying to move? YOU. You with your ideas of how it is supposed to be. You with your plans and good suggestions. You with your complete avoidance of current suffering that are for eternal purposes.
What? You think you are above current suffering used for eternal purposes? You think you should be exempt from that? Dismissed because you’ve been a good person? Well, Sis, Jesus wasn’t dismissed and I’m pretty sure he was maybe even a little bit of a better person than even you. If Jesus wasn’t above suffering, why would we ever believe we are?
I don’t want to be that stumbling block. I don’t want to be in the way of God’s plans. If God says I have to go through this, then I trust it’s for a purpose greater than my comfort. If God says this has to fall apart, I trust he will be doing something new on the other side of this and when I get there I’ll be more like the woman he created me to be.
So, here we are Lord, trying our best to get out of the way.
Here we are, surrendering to your plan that doesn’t make sense to us.
Here we are, trusting you give and you take away, and our hands are to remain open.
Here we are, counting on your timing to be better than our own.