The car seemed to reverberate with my frustration: “I CAN’T go on like this! I CAN’T do this anymore! I’m burned out, don’t you understand?!” In my muffled sobbing, what could my husband say? He knew I was stressed to the max, but at this point, late last year, there was no solution. I felt like maybe God was not hearing my prayer.
We walked on into church–of course I got my halo out of the glove compartment and put it on!–and soon the service began. After a time of praise and worship, our pastor began his sermon. He had my full attention in any case, but God, just to be sure my mind wasn’t wandering, had him question, “When is the last time you said you CAN’T make it, that you CAN’T go on?” As he finished his sermon, I sat stunned. God, the Almighty Creator, had spoken through our pastor. I knew he had just spoken by the Holy Spirit directly to me, and that I could go on another day.
How does it feel when the pastor says something that seems as though he may have been in your car, under your bed, or in a room nearby? Do you heed the instruction, the rebuke, the encouragement? Or do you think perhaps it is a “Love Note” that God is sending to you?
Lest you think I believe myself to be anything except a sinner saved by grace, I will tell you the next chapter. Saturday was the culmination of a rough week, as in “No. 8” stress level. I run a large sales business out of my house, and have had to be concerned about the economy like many of you. Each week I have seen sales go down, lower and lower. It has seemed that I’ve been under more pressure over the past year that the previous five put together. I have prayed fervently–constantly! Finally, Saturday morning I got up, and there, on the computer, was a bunch of sales! I was ecstatic–until I started hunting the items that had sold, and could not find almost one-fourth of them!! I have to say, in all honesty, I felt betrayed! When my husband came in, I was sunk in the depths of despair. Being me, I gave vent to the incredible hurt I was feeling: “If I’m going to have to be so specific in praying, not only for sales, but for sales that actually end up being found, paid for, acceptable, and the customer happy, what good is praying? What if He doesn’t love me? What if I’m not saved? What kind of loving Father is that?” And on and on–never at a loss for words in my hurt and anger, I talked until it was all out.
My husband stepped up to the plate. He reminded me of my salvation, and tried to encourage me that the business could survive even if we needed to redirect some of the aspects of it. I did what I always do in order to escape the crushing reality of stress: I went to bed. I can sleep 20 out of 24 hours if I’m trying to escape.
Sunday morning (yesterday), with our pastor being out of the country, we sat down in the church, ready for the praise and worship and the sermon. But God. Don’t you love those words? But God had other plans. Turning to John 11, the preacher began to lead us through the death of Lazarus, Jesus’ beloved friend. Can you imagine? God, in the flesh, comes to the earth, and makes true friends! It’s hard to wrap your mind around that. But then Lazarus gets sick…so they send friends to Jesus, knowing He can heal the sick. He tells them, “It will be okay–I’ll be along.” When He does arrive, Lazarus has been dead and buried four days, and Mary, Martha, and their friends all have the same response: if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died. As the preacher said, “You would have been able to keep him from dying, but look, now he is dead, You can do nothing!” Despite His miracles, feeding the poor, raising the dead, walking on water, and so many others, now, they say, YOU can do nothing! No wonder Jesus wept! And the pastor continued, what has YOUR faith been up against this past week, or month, or whatever time period, when you say, “You are NOT able to help me now! You can do nothing about my situation! There’s no use praying any more, for You are not even caring enough to show up!” Can we look at the past, and look at the miracles He has provided in our lives, and still say, “You are unable or unwilling to fix my problem?”
Conviction was heavy upon me, and repentance was on the heels of it. I was so ashamed! I was truly of a “broken heart” (Psalm 51), that I had doubted that the Creator of the universe, who has acted on my behalf so many times, could do nothing for me. Or perhaps I should say “would.” Do I know what He’s doing in my business? No, I don’t–nor do I know what He’s doing in your life. That’s where TRUST comes in. Maybe He’s waiting “four days” so that others may see the glory of God! As we sing so often, “Never once did I ever walk alone! Never once did you leave me on my own! You are faithful, God, you are faithful!”
Do you believe that? I do. I was there. I was the one He was speaking to.