Around this time last year, I was coming out of a season of deep disappointment. I had experienced a stretch of about two years where it was a battle to stay hopeful and content. There were a few things going on, but what was most prominent was our longing for a child and my confusion about what I was supposed to do in regards to career and ministry. I felt called to be a mom and to help others know God more, but neither of these pursuits were going the way I expected.
One of the hardest things about this time was that I would almost always wake up dreading the day.
Have you ever been there? Or are you there now? If so, I sincerely empathize with you. It is so difficult to keep moving forward when each morning reminds you of all that’s missing or just plain messed up.
Because the mornings were particularly rough for me, I developed a habit of praying on the way to work. It took about a half hour to get there, and I would spend anywhere from 5 minutes to the entire commute talking to God.
Sometimes praying first thing would put me in a better mood and I would arrive at work feeling at peace. Unfortunately, those days seemed few and far between.
There were even a handful of days when my prayers escalated to anger. To be transparent, it felt like I was spending all my energy trying to be patient and joyful with minimal results. And I vividly remember telling God one morning, “You’re withholding the good gifts. All I’m getting are stones and snakes.”
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11 (ESV)
Ouch. It sticks out in my memory because I immediately knew I had gone too far. It was one thing to be angry, and it was another thing to throw God’s Word back in His face and accuse Him of not doing what was best.
Typing it out makes me want to hide and pretend it never happened, but I’m sharing it to disclose a little reality of what prayer can look like in the midst of difficulties. We are messy people, and our prayers get messy, too.
I also hope to encourage you to keep praying through any darkness you are walking through. When my prayers seemed unproductive and even hurtful, I wondered if it was best to just stop praying until I could be better composed.
I’m glad I kept going, though, because I now can see how it was just what I needed.
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
This verse was a lifeline for me in that season. Every part of it was a comfort.
If we are in Christ, we know that we can come before the Father boldly. His sacrifice gave us full access. There’s no need to clean up our act or sort out our feelings before we are deemed worthy.
draw near to the throne of grace
Standing before a throne should be intimidating, but based on the first part of the verse, we have no reason to be fearful. And we don’t have to stand in the doorway of the place where God dwells–we can move close to Him.
we may receive mercy
He will be merciful to us. When I was angry with Him, I needed mercy. When we get stuck in the weeds of our emotions and forget who He is, we need mercy. When we fall back into old sins and habits because we’re overwhelmed, we need mercy. And, thankfully, we serve a God who offers it freely.
and find grace to help in time of need
Not only does God choose to bestow mercy and forgive us, He grants us with help. He offers strength and perseverance. Even when we can’t see the results, He is building up muscles of faith in us through our persistence.
I’m so thankful for the access we have to our Father. That He is kind even when we aren’t. That He always gives us what is best.
It is because of who He is that we can keep praying, and it is such a gift.