Jesus stories. You know the ones. You run into someone and they tell you about the most recent miracle God’s done in their life. A friend shares how God answered her prayer in a big, bold, beautiful way and now she’s forever changed. You find yourself hearing yet again how God always comes through at just the right time.
I have burned with envy hearing those Jesus stories. Oftentimes, I’ve quickly found the nearest exit by changing the subject or walking away.
I mean I’ve got Jesus stories too, but they don’t start and end with, “I prayed for this and God answered with that.” They’re way messier. They’re the kind of stories filled with prayers that find me on my knees, barely making it through the day with my past bubbling up and my future pressing in. Stories filled with prayers where I’m still waiting on the ending.
Needless to say, I’ve been pretty envious of those people who tell stories of prayers that have been circled in victory and wrapped up in bows.
Until I realized it’s not the pretty bows I’m so frustrated with. My envy of others’ stories isn’t that God is moving in a big way in their lives. My envy has been that I didn’t think He wanted to move like that in my life.
I recently started reading this book called Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet and each chapter ends with a list of scripture references. While reading it, I was desperate enough for some hope that I looked up every single scripture the author listed, wrote each one out and took some time to consider what every verse reveals about who God is.
Admittedly, there was no way I was walking away from those verses unchanged because I was that desperate to find out once-and-for-all what I mean to God. And you know what? Sitting in the capital T, Truth, and letting it wash over me day after day finally got to me. After days (weeks) of this, I started to understand…God cares about me. A lot.
When I envy the outcomes of my friends’ prayers thinking God must really love them but maybe not me so much, He cares. In the little things and the big things, when I can’t make sense of the thoughts in my head or the words spilling from my lips, He cares.
His love is so big and His care so great that the endings to my prayers matter less and less. As His Truth washes over me I start wanting more of Him, not what He can give me. I start resting in the truths like:
- We know that for those who love God all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
- You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance (Psalm 32:7).
- I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
- If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7).
If you find yourself banging on the walls of Heaven with the questions of your heart…keep knocking! But take some time too to remember that we don’t have to persuade Him to care or to want good things for us. Read those verses (above) again. Slower. God is big enough to surround us, and from every angle He shouts deliverance. He doesn’t even have to move to free us; He just speaks it!
Soak up what He says about Himself, about you and about others because while our prayers do change things, God already changed everything by loving us. Read those verses (above) again, even more slowly this time. What are they telling you, right now, about God?
Sometimes those Jesus stories still make me uncomfortable because they remind me of the “not yets” in my life. As I dig deeper into His Word, I’m learning that waiting on God and learning Him in the process might be sweeter than any outcome could be. As I learn Him, I learn how to truly believe in Christ’s love for me and trust His process. I can rest assured that the waiting demonstrates His love, His goodness to me, just as much as the endings that will one day be circled in victory and wrapped up in bows.