When Life Stinks, Do it Anyway

I went with a minister to visit someone in the hospital.  This man’s wife was in bad shape.  We first met with the man.  Ready to take mental notes I witnessed this seasoned pastor ask some of the strangest questions.

“Have you eaten?” was one of the first.  I thought, OK, probably not the strongest start but maybe its a warmup.  We are gonna chase the enemy clean out of this hospital at any moment…you’ll see!

“Will you eat if I get you something right now?”.  Yeah!, take that spiritual warfare!!!!… wait… what?  The man refused.  OK, he’s not hungry, lets stop messing around now.  The preacher asked the man to sit.  He had been standing for hours.  “You have to eat, even if you don’t feel like it”.  The man started to fight back tears… “I can’t” he exclaimed.

Having been through this level of trauma on many occasions the preacher knew several key things that had never crossed my mind.  First, we have to eat.  Not because food tastes good or because its socially correct, but because we need fuel.  When we get wrecked, when our life is turned sideways or upside down… we don’t think about the most basic things.

If this man doesn’t rest his legs and put some food in his body, then he risks having health issues on top of what his wife is going through.  What if she needs him and he has passed out?  What if she wakes, or has a complication and the doctors need his permission and he is too delirious to give a coherent response?  It happens.

And so this minister cut right to the chase.  If you want to be helpful, you have to help yourself.  Lets start with the most basic.  Get yourself on a steady regiment of fuel.  And not just once, but all throughout the process.  He trained the man too.  And if anyone else shows up, make sure they eat.  Its not thoughtless, its not tacky, its doing what is best for your wife.  And that is something they could all agree on.

He asked other helpful questions… Are there pets at home?  Anything turned on that needs to be turned off?  Any children need rides?  Any major assignments or events due immediately?

The next thing I learned from this preacher, is that there is a time to preach and a time to not preach.  This man didn’t want to hear how great it was from a heavenly perspective that his wife was in pain.  He didn’t want to know the Biblical reasons that his life was shattering.  He didn’t need to hear a psalm or someone’s favorite verse.  He needed to think.  He needed physical help.  He needed tangible hands and feet.  Healing would come later.  Right now, he needed human, practical, love and intervention to help him accomplish the things a man in shock can’t take care of.

Cramming God into a void rarely brings about healthy fruit.  In most cases, it has the opposite effect.  Ecclesiastes was right… there is a time for all things.  The man who rests his legs and feeds his stomach is prepared to deal with the coming battles in life.  He can’t be caught off guard if he is prepared.

Eat, even when you think you can’t.  Rest, even when you don’t want to.  What if we carried that same lesson to our walk with Christ?  What if we read our Bibles and studied His word even when weary?  What if we prayed even when angry?  The same principle applies.  If you prepare your spirit, it will be ready when needed.  If you neglect it, for whatever reason, you will risk being dried up when the real attacks occur.

The enemy, who just happens to know how spiritually depleted we can get, will wait for just the right time to attack.  Wouldn’t it be great if we never allowed him that opportunity?  If we never left that window open for him to whisk in and take advantage of?  We can do that by staying fueled.  Steady doses of biblical and Spiritual energy and we can make the same suggestion to loved ones around us.

I think, in some ways, this is what scripture is talking about when it talks about being prepared.  So we aren’t taken advantage of by a thief in the night.  We are told to stay sober, alert, even in cooking we should not expect to have time for the bread to rise.  Preparation.  We can prepare for the coming of the end times, and we can also prepare for any of the enemy’s attacks.  We do so by putting on the full armor of God, and by constantly communing with Him.

What if the next time we didn’t feel like reading, we saw that as a threat from the enemy?  What if the next time we didn’t have words for God or thought it best not to pray, we remembered how desperate he is to separate us from the Father who protects us?  “I’ll catch up tomorrow…”  May very well mean disaster is on the way for tomorrow.

But in case I lost my point somewhere, I’ll sum up.  We need God more than we need food and rest.  If it makes sense to keep our bodies going even during times of weakness or sickness, how much more important is it to keep our souls in check?

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I’ll stop the world and nag for you!

Luke 18 tells the story of a whiny, annoying, tattletale.  The woman is seeking justice so I assume she recounts her entire story including names and locations with grisly details abounding.

This, of course, is from the point of view of the ruler who had to hear her testimony day after day.  Because the scriptures tell us she kept coming back, we can assume he told her, “no”, more than once.

After all, he did not care what she, or even God, thought about his ruling decisions.  But something happened.  An M. Night Shyamalan style plot twist occurred.  The ruler grew tired of the repetition.  He thought, ‘can I afford more enemies’?  And for the most selfish reasons afforded to him, he chose to answer her plea…. eventually.

You don’t have to ponder for long what the moral is here.  The Bible follows with it bluntly.  If an evil, selfish ruler will grant your requests, how much more so would a loving Father?  And if you combine this scripture with my very favorite, “Pray without ceasing.”  You get a pretty good picture of what prayer life is supposed to look like.

Don’t stop praying.  God does not tire of the monotony.  He has an entirely different perspective than that.  His children are sharing with Him what is most important to them.  Those who have children will understand that its in our nature to jump from one fad to the next.  So when the kids break down the door after a long school day and shout out their most current, favorite thing in the world… veteran moms and dads will wait it out and see just how precious this new interest is.  Sometimes it lasts only a day.  Some can be interested for a few weeks before tossing it out for the next big thing.

Praying for the same thing every day lets God know where you are vested.  It’s a conversation with your Father.  He doesn’t answer out of frustration, or even pity.  When He answers a prayer, its out of love.  I imagine the dialogue is not like that of the evil ruler who gave in selfishly to protect his own time and interests.  I believe its more like:

‘You have wanted this for a long time.  You have shown to be faithful.  It pleases me to do this for you’.

Many will point out that God does not need our prayers to do His will.  Some will argue our prayers are ineffective against the plans of our Lord.  While I feel that contradicts scriptures in several ways, perhaps its better to try and look at it a different way.

Suppose we decide to go skydiving today.  When we jump out of the plane, our abilities really have nothing to do with the experience.  In fact, anyone can go skydiving.  The plane takes us up to a height that allows the jump, and the parachute allows us to safely return to the ground.  So when we say, “I’m going skydiving!”, we are really just taking a ride.  The true power is everywhere but within us.

Even as it is, we still have to make the choice to skydive.  We still have to get ready that day and get to and on the plane.  Most importantly… we have to be willing to and decide to jump.  Those are our actions even if we need the plane and the chute to make everything else happen.

And if we choose not to jump… perhaps someone else will.  But they will be the ones in the embrace of the chute.  They will be the ones climbing into the warmth of the sky.  They will be the ones experiencing the presence of adventure.  We will have missed out on the whole experience.  Perhaps the parachute opens anyway?  But its a chute meant for everyone… and only a few chose it.

When we pray, the power comes from God, but we have to act out some faith and time on our end.  God designed prayer for us to be along for the ride.  So it can take us to wonderful places and allow us to experience fantastic things.  Will the world keep moving without us asking God for it to?  Most likely.  But, He desires our communion with Him.  And He has proven on more than one occasion to alter His plans for those that love Him and pray accordingly.

Never stop praying.  Pray for miracles.  Pray for healing.  Pray for rain.  Pray for insight.  Pray for tacos.  God desires to hear from you… and every single day at that.  Is your aunt still sick?  Pray again.  Still?  Pray again.  This isn’t questioning God, His will or His power.  It’s communicating your constant desires to your creator.  My cats tell me every single day they are hungry in the morning, lonely in the afternoon, and frisky in the evening.  Without fail, they make their case known plainly.  Does it bother me?  Not at all, I’m happy they know I’m the one to come to for such things.

Now imagine a loving, daddy anxious to hear what is on your heart.  Even if He’s heard it a million times… He wants to hear it once more, every day, as long as that is what consumes your heart.  Someone you know need prayer?  Stop your world and pray for them.  Pray the way God created you and prayer to work together.  Never ceasing, never withholding, always giving God the glory, faithfully that He intends to use that power as He promised, when you ask.