Part 2 of a 12 part devotion of Psalm 30
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.Psalm 30:2
My wife and I have been binge-watching the “Chicago” series during this quarantine time. We have now watched six seasons of “Chicago Fire”, five seasons of “Chicago PD” and three seasons of “Chicago Med”. At this point, we are expecting “Chicago Taco Bell” to start production soon. These shows are basically nighttime soap operas, laden with human conflict, emotional crisis’s and of course, an obligatory sex scene that drives the human conflict, emotional crisis, or other dramatic twists that most viewers see coming from a proverbial mile away. The writers of these TV shows like to put the characters into nearly impossible situations, just to see how they would handle it. Most life-crushing moments in the shows are completely forgotten after a few episodes, never to be mentioned again. Most are fun or interesting to watch, simply because we know that by the end of the episode (or two if it is a cliffhanger or a crossover) the situation will be resolved and the status quo will be restored. Sometimes the writing gets sloppy and the writers fall back on cliches or scenes that have been done (usually far better) on past TV shows.
The one cliche I have a hard time with is the one where something tragic happens to a loved one of the main character, like a car crash or a gunshot wound. The character gets the news from some detached extra who tells them that they might not make it, so keep happy thoughts (The writers don’t recommend praying because that might offend some viewers). The character goes off somewhere in private, like a roof or a hospital chapel. When they are alone, they begin to bargain with God.
First, they admit that they haven’t spoken for real long time. Then they launch into a dramatic monolog of how important that another person is to them and how could a loving God do this to them. Finally, they vow if the can get the other back, they will change the way they are living and be God’s number one fan.
As you can guess, the next scene shows the other person making a miraculous recovery! Soon both characters are back to normal. The Doctor or detached extra is thanked by the main character and the credits start as the scene fades to black. The next episode has no mention of the incident and there is no change that was promised to God.
Unfortunately, I feel that is how many people treat God when they “cry out of help”. When we cry to the Lord for help, we generally want two things. The first is that we want someone to acknowledge the situation we are in. The second is that we want to be healed, meaning we want the situation to disappear.
GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS
In 1990, Garth Brooks had a huge country hit called “Unanswered Prayers”. In the song, he reflects and gives thanks to God for not allowing him to date a cute cheerleader in High School, because he would have missed out on meeting his wife. I like the song but disagree with the message. I believe that God answers all prayers.
Sometimes the answer is NO! As parents, we know when to tell our children no:
No, you can’t cut your own hair. No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast! No, a six-year-old can not watch “Game of Thrones”! If you disagree with any of the above, you have clearly never been a parent. Just like good parents, God denies our every whim, especially when the object of our heart’s desire will cause us to have more pain further down the road.
Sometimes the answer is WHOA! We pray for radical or extreme solutions when we just require a simple fix. We don’t need to win the lottery when a $3 per hour raise will help us out in the long run. I don’t need a BMW to roll around town in, but he will direct me to a nice reliable car that will get me from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for “daily bread”, not a lifetime supply! God provides needs in order to secure our gratitude.
Sometimes the answer is GROW! God wants to provide for us but we need to be in a better place first. A couple might pray for God to provide a child but God knows that this is not the best time in their relationship to add that dynamic. You might fervently pray to meet your soul mate, but God needs you to mature into that person who will be attractive to them.
“Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Mark 4:25. We don’t have to earn gifts from God but God will wait until we are ready to appreciate them more.
Lastly, sometimes the answer is GO! Not that God agrees with you, but more likely, you are finely tuned in to God’s will for your life. What you are asking for is what God has been wanting to give you for so long! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
God will answer your prayers but not always in the way you expect him to answer them. In order for HIm to answer our prayers, we first have to “cry out” or ask him for his help.
GOD PROVIDES HELP
It is because of this first step that many people do not seek help, either from God or others around them. As human beings, we have a hard time admitting our flaws to other people. We carefully craft our words and actions in a way that shows others we are more put together than we really are. Asking for help breaks down those illusions that we project to others. I believe that most people refuse to ask for help for primarily two reasons.
The first reason is pride. Most of us refuse to ask for help because of that voice in our head that tells us we are self-sufficient and can handle every possible scenario on our own. This is ingrained in our DNA from children, a consistent and constant doctrine that includes those time-worn phrases like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, “God helps those who help themselves”, and my personal favorite, “There’s no crying in baseball!”. Our country is founded on the idea of self-made men and women who overcome all obstacles and rose to the top of whatever pile of whatever they were trying to get to the top.
I am a self-made man! Unfortunately, there were a few pieces missing and the instructions were in Korean!Palzewism #72
The second reason people do not ask for help is because of shame. People who need help are usually in that predicament through their own actions. Be it a simple mistake, misunderstanding, or sheer ignorance, some people experience troubles due to completely unforeseen circumstances. Shame aggravates the situation, causing the person to hide the problem, delaying the solution, and making the matter worse. We have all heard stories of the breadwinner of a family losing his job but pretending to still go to work instead of telling his family the truth.
Pride and shame are the two reasons most people keep quiet when they are in trouble. To them, they would rather suffer the consequences silently and privately rather than letting others know they are not the perfect being they present on social media and to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, by not crying out, the problem can never be fixed the way it needs to be.
GOD PROVIDES HEALING!
But, as stated before, it is only in the “crying out” are we healed. Very rarely do things get fixed that no one saw a problem with. I remember my grandfather telling me “if it works, don’t fix it!”. Solutions are the results of problems. Every year in my science class we start off with the scientific method. What is the first step of the scientific method? If you thought “Identify the problem” give yourself a gold star! The main reason we cry out for help is to get healing, some kind of relief that eases the situation and course corrects our lives.
Healing can take many forms. Healing can be physical, psychological, or financial. We seek healing in our bodies, our relationships, and even with ourselves. Those things are not possible until we identify the problem and seek out some intervention, divine or otherwise.
Healing is also beneficial only if both parties are all in on the treatment. Most people would think it irrational to go to the doctor for a diagnosis and then refuse to follow the suggested course of treatment! No, they go to the doctor because of his knowledge and experience, assured that the recommended course of action will correct the problem over time.
God is our ultimate physician. He is also the best therapist, financial planner, and life coach you could ever hope to hire. He knows about fitness, relationships, getting along with co-workers, and how to properly delegate to people under you. He is the best nutritionist, fashion consultant, and home tutor. He has also had the number one book in print for over 1600 years!
The Bible contains God’s advice concerning a multitude of situations, all designed with one goal in mind. What most people do not realize is that the words in the Bible, God’s words, are really only half of a conversation. The other half comes from you, in the form of your prayers. Try this – Pray specifically to God about one key problem in your life. Then, over the next 3 to 5 days, read his word, a different section each day. Regardless of your prayer, the scriptures will usually align around your situation and present a solution or insight.
GOD PROVIDES GROWTH!
There is also a third, unwritten component of this verse. After we cry out, we are then healed. And after we are healed, we are called to grow! Unfortunately, in order to grow, we first have to repent.
Most people do not like that word and I understand why. It goes back to our pride. We refuse to acknowledge that we are usually the source of our own problems. There seems to be a disconnect between actions and consequences. Some even try very hard to convince themselves that the two are not related.
Repentance is a crucial part of the healing process. Unlike our TV show, our actions have consequences that can permeate us for months, years, and even the rest of our lives! The reason for repentance is not to repeat the mistake! Repentance includes acknowledging our part in the action and accepting the consequences. Those consequences are designed to not only heal us but also prevent us from making the same mistake again.
When my youngest son was in kindergarten, he walked out into a busy street without looking. He was clipped by a slow-moving vehicle that ran over his left foot and hit him in the head with the passenger side mirror. He was rushed to the hospital and had to wear an orthopedic boot for several weeks. To this day, he is very cautious about crossing the road, making sure that there are no cars in sight! He has learned his lesson! He understands that his actions caused the consequences. He does not blame his driver, his teacher, or even his father who was holding his hand at the time. He knows that because he stepped out before looking, he got hit by a car. He remembers what happened after the accident and, in order to avoid those consequences again, he has changed his actions!
God wants that from us as well. He wants us to acknowledge situations, either of our own making or not, that require outside intervention. He will then heal, or correct the situation in a way that restores us either back to the way we were or hopefully into a better circumstance. Lastly, he wants us to repent and make some changes that will prevent the action from being repeated. In that way, we will truly begin to grow in the direction he has planned for us! If you need God’s help out of a situation that you put yourself in, then a hard reflection of your choices is necessary in order to ensure that situation never develops again.
Help, Healing, Growth. That is what God wants to give us! He is ready to help you. You only need to cry out to Him and you will be healed!
The questions are intended for personal reflection but feel free to answer any or all in the comment section as well.
- Looking back, can you now see that God’s “unanswered” prayer was really a NO, WHOA, or GROW? How does knowing this change how you think about God?
- In what situations do you usually need help? Do you avoid asking because of guilt or shame? Why do you think that is?
- Have you ever experienced deep healing after prayer with God? Did it result in a permanent or temporary change?
- Why is repentance a necessary part of the healing process?
Father God! We thank you for always hearing our prayers and responding. Give us the wisdom to determine your answer and how that can help us out of our current troubles. Give us the healing that leads to repentance and forgiveness! In your name, we pray. Amen.
I thank you for reading my blog and look forward to any comments or criticism of what I have discussed.
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“You Turned My Mourning Into Dancing!”, my book, is available for purchase here.